How to Participate in a Secret Santa Gift Exchange

Snow is falling, store windows are filled with shiny toys and gifts, and carolers are out in full force. That could only mean one thing: the holidays are just around the corner! Like some other parts of the world, many Americans participate in Secret Santa exchanges at school, at work, or with families and friends. During Secret Santa, these groups of people anonymously exchange gifts with one another to celebrate the holidays. If this is your first year participating, here’s what you can expect.

How It Works

A person holding out a Christmas present

Secret Santa offers an affordable way to give and receive holiday gifts, as it usually only requires participants to buy one gift. Each participant is assigned a “Secret Santa,” and they will buy that person a gift. On a specific date, the whole group exchanges gifts. Everyone should keep their Secret Santa a surprise to avoid spoiling the game for anyone. A Secret Santa exchange offers a perfect way for you and your classmates to spread the holiday cheer without going broke.

Additional Rules

The exact rules will vary from group to group. Usually, groups set a spending limit—perhaps $25—so no one goes overboard on expensive gifts. Most groups will ask participants to provide a list of their interests to guide their Santas in picking the perfect gift. There are also other ways to play the game, like Thieving Secret Santa. This game asks participants to buy a gift suitable for anyone, then they take turns choosing gifts from the pile or “stealing” gifts that have already been opened.

Many ALCC American Language students enjoy participating in Secret Santa exchanges with their classmates and friends. Secret Santa exchanges offer a great way for students to meet new friends and get in the holiday spirit while celebrating away from their families. To learn about other ways to celebrate the season with ALCC American Language, get in touch or call us at (212) 736-2373.

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