Before my office transitioned to all of us working remotely, we were planning our annual summer party. Each year, it’s always featured a competitive kickball game and a Secret Santa gift exchange—playing off the “Christmas in July” theme. Needless to say, this being 2020, our normal party isn’t going to happen. While there won’t be a chance to defend our kickball championship title, my team will still be able to participate in a Secret Santa for virtual teams.
As we grow more and more accustomed to virtual teams, whether due to a pandemic or just because that’s how your business is set up, we have to learn how to still make connections. After all, you’re still working together. You’re still sharing a lot of time. And, you’re probably still seeing each other’s faces just as much.
Secret Santa for virtual teams can be fun, easy, and rewarding. So if you want to stay connected, get cool gifts, and give a little joy, no matter what time of the year—and no matter where your team members are located—follow these tips and tricks.
How Secret Santa for Virtual Teams Can Work
Hosting a remote workplace gift exchange might seem like a challenge, but it’s actually really simple. Think of it like working on a document with your virtual team. You could, in theory, write down your part on a piece of paper, tie it to a pigeon, and send it to a co-worker to make notes on. OR you could use a cloud-based document sharing. Your choice.
The point is that the most important thing is to use the right tool (in the above example, the one without feathers). For your gift exchange, you want to start with a tech-friendly, easy-to-use, multi-functional Secret Santa generator. This is the cornerstone of the whole exchange.
But what should you look for in that generator?
You deserve a tool that will do the work, so you can have all the fun. You should look for the following qualities in your quest to for a Secret Santa for virtual teams:
It Should Be Free
OK, that one probably goes without saying. A free tool frees your team up to save money (which could be important depending on the economy) or to spend it on other cool activities, like ordering pizza for everyone at their homes.
It Should Be Easy to Start
You’re busy. You might be doing your job, planning the party, and taking care of the kids. Why not let the party mostly plan itself? With the right generator, all you have to do is plug in three things:
- Participant emails
- Date of the name drawing
- Date of party
…and then your work is pretty much done. How does that sound?
It Should Draw Names Randomly
This is pretty important as well. You might have restriction lists, like supervisor-to-employee, and the system needs to take that into account. You don’t need people reaching into a hat. You don’t have to assign everyone and then know your Secret Santa. The system should be able to draw the Secret Santas and email each participant their match.
It Should Let People Make Their Wish Lists Online
Now comes the real fun part: making the wish list. The best generators allow you to create your list online so that your Secret Santa can see it. There are a few things that make wish list creating wonderful.
- Being able to shop through the biggest online retailers so you can find exactly what you’re looking for
- Being able to update your list whenever and from wherever and have your Secret Santa see it
- Being able to use filters when searching and gift guides to narrow down exactly what you want
Basically, you will be able to have the entire world of gifts at your fingertips.
It Should Make It Easy to Buy and Send Gifts
If you’re the Secret Santa, you want it as easy as possible to choose, buy, and ship. And with the right generator, you can click on an item, purchase it, and have it delivered to your giftee. (Make sure it is wrapped!) No need to go into a crowded store. No need to do anything but think about what gift works best for your teammate, and get it.
So that’s how the generator works. But how should you throw the party?
Tips For Throwing a Secret Santa for Virtual Teams
Obviously, you want this party to be a big success. You want to show that even though you’re remote, you can still be connected. Here are a few ways to make sure everyone has a good time.
- Choose a theme. Having a Secret Santa theme for work parties is a great way to stir imagination and make it easier to choose gifts. For example, you could have everyone pick cool gifts for their home office. After all, we might be working from home for a while!
- Set a price limit. This is usually pretty crucial in avoiding anything awkward. Setting a price limit lets everyone have fun, without any pressure. Your Secret Santa generator should be able to let you filter by price.
- Make sure the date and time work for everyone. I don’t know about you, but between caring for the children, meetings, pets, and more, our team’s 9-5 is a little fluid now. And that’s fine. But your party should take that into account.
- Set up a virtual meeting room. Consider using a video conferencing platform so that everyone can see each other open gifts.
From there, it is played like normal. Start a guessing order (newest to most veteran, or anything else). Have people open their gifts on camera, and then have them guess who gave them the gift. It’s just as silly and just as fun as being there.
The Virtual Team is Still a Team
The elves at Elfster are the experts at being virtual. They are a fully remote team and understand what it takes to stay connected. They do plenty of gift exchanges—all remotely. They know it works. They know how to get it done.
You might not have done this before. I only have a little experience. But that’s why I trust the elves who are professionals in bringing people together, no matter how far away.
Want to make it easy to set up a Secret Santa for virtual teams? Use the Secret Santa generator that makes gift exchanges easy for everyone, whether in-person or remote. Thanks to Elfster, you can easily shop for gifts and start a Wish List. Plus, you can access it all from an iPhone app or Android app.