My wife and I first started dating in early July. But by Christmas we were already at the “let’s see each other’s family!” stage of things (cue: awwww). When she joined my family’s Secret Santa game and got my cousin Chuck, I was super excited. Chuck is great! Of course, she asked what to me was a surprising question: “Who, exactly, is Chuck?”
Yeah, I had forgotten that she didn’t know everyone in my family. But that brings up a really interesting issue for a Secret Santa game. What happens when you’re the Secret Santa for someone you don’t really know?
It happens more often than you might think. You might be new to a family, you might be participating in an office Secret Santa in a bigger company, or maybe you’re in a gift exchange with a big, extended group of friends. Either way, if you’re in a Secret Santa with people you don’t know, or are organizing one where that might happen, there are ways to make it easier.
How to be the Secret Santa for Someone You Don’t Know
Now, chances are that your giftee made a wish list, so you already know a little about what they want. But that doesn’t help you narrow it down, nor does it help you pick the right present. So, here are a few ways to go about it:
Ask People Who Know Them
Say you’re at work, and you get someone from a department that isn’t yours. You can ask people in that department what they’d like. You can do the same with friends and family.
But… you also might not know the other people in the department. You might not know who to ask. And asking around can be sort of awkward. Not to mention that asking around makes it more likely that someone will accidentally reveal who you’re Secret Santa-ing for.
There are two ways to do anonymous messaging.
- Leave secret notes asking questions and telling them to drop their answers off at a special place where you can sneakily pick them up.
- Literally not that, goodness gracious. Anything else!
That’s where the organizer comes in. Using an online Secret Santa generator that allows users to ask anonymous questions is a great way to connect people. Messaging can be really straightforward, like, “What color shirt do you want?” or “How tall is a ‘life size cutout of Baby Yoda?’” It helps you get more info so you aren’t guessing randomly.
Asking Fun Questions to Get to Know Someone
If you have this anonymous messaging feature, you can ask questions that are a little more fun, too. You can come up with these on your own, or the organizer can have a list that everyone has to answer. Like:
- What’s your favorite food?
- Coffee or tea?
- Favorite TV show?
- What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
- What’s the last movie you saw in theaters?
- Best present you ever got for your birthday?
- Would you rather be a squid, whale, or shark?
Really, anything goes. Not all of these will directly help you pick out a gift, but they’ll give you insight into that person. That’ll get you closer.
This is one that the organizer has to, well, organize. Icebreaker games for Secret Santa are designed to elicit more complicated, deeper, and often sillier answers. With the right games, you can get a good look at someone’s personality.
Now, you might not think that these games help you pick a gift. And yeah, maybe knowing someone’s favorite Hobbit won’t help you pick out a sweater. But maybe that doesn’t matter. This game is about getting to know a person better—in this case, someone you don’t know at all. No matter what, you’ve already gained insight into someone and possibly gained a friend.
Using a Gift Guide
Okay, fine, but you still have to get a gift, deep and eternal insight aside. That’s why so many people like to use a platform with online gift guides.
These gift guides allow everyone to find what they want from the top retailers on the internet. It’s broken up into dozens of categories, making it easy to browse (and making it easy to set gift theme ideas, if you want).
You just have to register to create a Secret Santa wish list. And since your giftee can organize their wish list however they like, you can get an idea of what’s a top priority for them.
Getting to Know Your Secret Santa Participants
If you’re running a Secret Santa with people who don’t know each other, find the right platform. If you’re going to be in one, talk to the organizer about how to make it easier. Giving someone tips for a Secret Santa isn’t a bad thing; you’re making their life (and their holidays) a lot simpler.
After all, this isn’t supposed to be stressful for anyone. We don’t want you worried about not getting the right thing or worried about offending someone somehow. We don’t want you concerned you’re going to ruin Chuck’s holiday. It’s about making everyone happy.
Making new friends isn’t always the point of Secret Santa, but it can be one of its outcomes. You might be a Secret Santa for someone you don’t know. But if done right, at the end, you’ll know them. They won’t be a secret anymore. And that’s a gift worth everything.
Whether it’s all friends or a bunch of strangers, you want a Secret Santa generator that makes everything easy. Elfster is a convenient platform that helps you draw names, shop online, and start a Wish List. Plus, you can play using an iPhone app or Android app, too.