Secret Santa Rules:
The Ten Rules to a Successful Game

Start a Secret Santa Exchange

If you’re planning a fun Christmas or holiday gift exchange, you can do no better than Secret Santa. Well, you can do better - you can run your game online through Elfster, but we digress.

You don’t know the rules, you say? You don’t know the guidelines or etiquette, and you’re terrified you’ll do something wrong? Don’t worry, Elfster’s here with the rules of play to a successful Secret Santa.

Rule #1. Realize that this is a game with few rules.
And, that rules in Secret Santa are actually steps towards fun. (We’re elves, after all, and we don’t do rules).

Rule #2. Identify who should be “in” the game.
If it’s an office Secret Santa, go around the office and get everyone’s email; if it’s a family game, you’ll need the email addresses of everyone you want to invite. Post a notice on Facebook, asking who wants to participate. (Elves love Facebook, except for those that prefer Twitter or Pinterest, or LinkedIn (that’s where the career-minded elves hang out)). Etiquette alert: don’t pressure people into playing, as we find that shaming them is really a better tactic.

Rule #3. Specify a gift limit. Are you rich?
Then by all means, set your gift limit at $1000. Not so rich, well, set it at $10. The gift limit gives guidance to everyone as to what to put on their Elfster wishlist, and how much to spend on their recipient. While elves can make gifts, we recommend that humans buy gifts. It’s easier: have you ever tried to make a Nintendo from scratch?

Rule #4. Specify a gift theme and forbidden gifts.
By this we mean, are you giving serious gifts, or gag / funny gifts? Either way is great. If you’re in an office, or your family is pretty uptight, you might want to clarify no alcohol, no naughty gifts, etc. Whatever works for your group. We elves like to keep it clean, but hey - it’s your family or office - so you go girl with those guidelines!

Rule #5. Create a Secret Santa questionnaire.
Secret Santa questionnaires ask folks about their hobbies, their likes and dislikes. For an office, it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn about each other. Gosh, that’s true for most families, too. Did you really know that Aunt Sally is into motorcycles? Or that the boss likes the Twilight series?

Rule #6. Set a gift-giving date.
This is the date that everyone will exchange gifts. It can be “in person” or in the case of Elfster, it can be “online.” December 25th isn’t a good date, by the way; that’s taken.

Rule #7. Elfster will randomly assign a secret recipient to each player.
No peeking! And no cheating, or re-assignments. Part of the fun is that you have to buy a gift for your recipient, no matter how little you know about them. Check their wish list on Elfster.

Rule #8. Create your wishlists.
Everyone should login to Elfster and create their “wish lists.” Their “Secret Santa” will be able to see their preferences.

Rule #9. Remind everyone to buy a gift.
This should perhaps be the most important Secret Santa rule: you gotta buy a gift. Elfster makes it as easy as point and click, and we send out email reminders, too. No crowded shopping malls for your little elves!

Rule #10. Exchange gifts.
On your gift-giving date, everyone meets in person or online and exchanges gifts. The identify of their Secret Santa is revealed! Secret Santa rules learned, game over!