Secret Santa Explained vs. White Elephant & Other ‘Thieving’ Gift Exchanges

These days, the holidays are so hectic! (We know; we’re elves). Today’s busy moms and dads, uncles and aunts, friends and family, scarcely have time to go to a mall, much less organize a gift exchange. We at run the world’s most popular gift exchange site, and we get many confused requests comparing us to alternatives.

Let us take a moment and clarify your mind. You as the busy game organizer might be a Mom, an office manager, or just that special someone who’s thinking how to get a group together to have fun.

White Elephant / Chinese Gift Exchange and Yankee Swap

All of these games are played by the same rules; another common name is ‘dirty Secret Santa’ or ‘thieving Secret Santa.’ In each variant, one participant chooses the first gift, and then subsequent participants can either ‘steal’ his gift, or take a new gift from the pile. At the end of the game, everyone has ‘stolen’ or ‘swapped’ their way up or down the ladder.

Let’s admit it. This game is a lot of fun! But we, at, don’t play the game this way. We’re traditionalists. Every Christmas, we watch ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas,’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ and we organize our own online Secret Santa.

We have gone online, however.

Consider Online Secret Santa as an Alternative

So if you are considering a ‘White Elephant game,’ allow us to suggest playing Secret Santa online. It might be more fun, but at least you know it’s different. The real advantage is that it is so easy, and the gifts can all be purchased online - via our website - making an online Secret Santa a real time-saving alternative to a ‘White Elephant Gift Exchange,’ ‘Chinese Gift Exchange,’ or ‘Yankee Swap.’

The main difference is that Secret Santa does not involve the ‘stealing’ of other people’s gifts. It really involves a one-to-one gift exchange, allowing a bunch of people to work together and have fun during the Holiday season.

Browse our website to learn the rules, and consider setting up an online Secret Santa as an alternative. You’ll be glad you did!

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