Blogmas Day 7: How to organize a Secret Santa

So I’ve given you tips for white elephant gift exchanges, ideas for what to get your parents, and some budget gift ideas, but I haven’t talked about my favorite gift giving method around the holiday season: the Secret Santa.

If you’re not familiar with it, in a Secret Santa gift exchange, everyone in the group is randomly assigned to another person, who they get a gift for. Who your “Santa” is (who bought the gift for you) is only revealed when you actually get the gift! The reason I love this gift exchange format so much is that it means I only have to buy a gift for one person per friend group. Instead of getting a bunch of little cheap gifts, I can get one high quality, thoughtful gift.

It’s a great money saver and honestly so much fun, so I’d highly recommend this type of gift exchange. If you’re the one proposing it to your family or friend group though, you’re probably going to be expected to organize it. So, today for #HBJblogmas Day 7, I’m bringing you my best tips for how to organize a Secret Santa!


My favorite way to get gifts for my friends is through a Secret Santa. If you're looking to organize one with your friend group, I've got some suggestions! | BLOGMAS DAY 7: HOW TO ORGANIZE A SECRET SANTA | HONEYBEE JOYOUS


I’m a part of five (five!!) different Secret Santas this year and they’re all organized in different ways. Here are some examples for your inspiration!


The old fashioned way

The most classic way to organize a Secret Santa is to just pull names out of a hat. Two of the exchanges I’m doing this year are with different friend groups at school and for both of those, we wrote people’s names down on a post it or piece of paper, put them in a cup, and passed the cup around. The only thing you really have to be careful of with this method is making sure that nobody draws their own name. I’m all about treating yourself, but a holiday gift exchange is a time for treating others instead!


The old fashioned way + a virtual twist

While the old fashioned, pulling names out of a hat way works great if you see that group of friends all the time, sometimes your group might be a bit more long distance. I’m participating in the “Bookish Secret Santa” gift exchange, put on by fellow blogger Amélie from A Wanderer’s Adventures (check out her blog y’all, it’s awesome!). This gift exchange is international, so we definitely couldn’t all get together to pull slips of paper out of a cup. Instead, we filled out a Google form with some information about ourselves and Amélie emailed us with who we’re assigned to give a gift to.

Once I receive my gift for this, I’ll be revealing the book I got on my Twitter, so be sure to follow me there! I just bought the book for my person today and I’m really excited to send it to her.



If you’re new here, you might not know that I’m a freshman RA. One of my favorite holiday programs to do is holding a “Secret Snowflake” gift exchange with the hall (not everybody celebrates Christmas but everybody celebrates snow days, so I picked a more inclusive name for my residents). Last year, I organized it the old fashioned way, but this year I decided to use an online method.

My lovely friend Kayla introduced me to, which is an incredibly easy website to use to organize a Secret Santa. You put in the names and email addresses of the people who will be involved in the gift exchange and then hit a button to send out an email invite. The participants have to click a couple of buttons to “join” the gift exchange and once everybody’s in, the names are drawn and everyone receives an email with the person they’re assigned to give a gift to. There’s a wishlist feature, where you can put in specific items you want, but there’s also the option to select “I want to be surprised” and just note some of your interests. This service also allows the organizer to put in restrictions so that certain people (significant others, roommates, etc.) can’t get each other.

I really like this website because I think it’s incredibly user-friendly and I am super excited for my hall’s Secret Snowflake.



This is the most high-tech option in my opinion. is similar to Draw Names in that it is an online Secret Santa organizer, but it has a lot more features. The wishlist feature is more robust and if you’re a part of multiple gift exchanges, you’re able to make one wishlist that’s available to all of them or customize your wishlist to the specific exchange. It lets you put your address directly in, but only makes it visible to the person who is assigned to give you the gift. There’s also a feature where you can ask questions anonymously of the person you’re buying a gift for.

This service is the one that’s being used for the Blogger Secret Santa I’m a part of this year, hosted by Abigail from Living the Gray Life and Cathleen from Classy Cathleen (more great blogs you should definitely check out!). I’m super excited for this exchange and there will be a post going live here on on Christmas Day revealing who my Secret Santa was and what I got!

I think Elfster is probably the best option if you’re organizing a big gift exchange for people from all over, because it requires the least involvement on the part of the organizer.


{Does your friend group do a Secret Santa gift exchange? Have you ever organized one? Leave your tips in the comments!}

30 thoughts on “Blogmas Day 7: How to organize a Secret Santa

  1. AAAAAA, MY SECRET SANTA KNOWLEDGE IS CITED IN A BLOG!!! Not gonna lie, I clicked on this blog intending to write a snarky comment about how Secret Santa always ends in annoyance when participants forget the date or leave gifts around the Flat Hat office for months afterwards but holy cow, my old bitter heart just grew three sized reading this post! Happy Holidays and Blog bless us, every one!

  2. we’re organizing a secret santa at work & weren’t sure how to really streamline it, so I’m definitely going to let everyone know about! (also a great platform to know about for blogging purposes.) x, nicole //

  3. My office is using Elfster this year and it’s so fun! My co-worker says she feels like she has a secret admirer when she gets anonymous messages haha!

  4. Ahh congrats on being a Freshman RA! I was an RA when I was in college and I loved organizing secret santa events for my residents and my residential area, it’s such a great idea for a program!

    Logan |

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