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Secret Santa How To

Updated on October 30, 2009

Secret Santa (also known as Kris Kringle in some places) is a Christmas gift giving tradition. It can be used in schools, offices and among families who are too large for everyone to spend money on each family member. When I was a kid, we did this with my family because it was so large. It can really be fun to do and it's certainly the best way to go easy on your wallet. There are many types of Secret Santa and you can adjust the rules to suit your needs, but the following are pretty standard in most cases.

1. Get your group of names together.

If you're doing this for an extended family get together, you'll probably want to make at least two groups of names -- one for the kids and one for the adults. You may even want a third group if you want to divide small children from older children. Once you got your names together you write them down on small pieces of paper and stick them in a hat or something similar. The you get everyone together and each person selects a name from the hat -- but does not tell anyone who they've got. If someone draws their own name by accident, they simply stick it back in there and try again.

2. Follow your spending rules.

This is something you agree upon before the actual drawing of names and there are many variations. You may want to set the spending limit at 10 or 15 dollars, perhaps more. If you're trying to save money, you may want to say that each gift has to be hand made (cookies, crafts, etc). Don't spend more than has been agreed upon because if you do it could really make some people feel badly about not having more money to spend themselves.

3. Exchange gifts!

When it's time to get back together and exchange your gifts, you'll want to make sure that any children realize there's a spending limit (if there was one) and prepare them to not expect anything wild and over the top. You don't want your kids looking all mopey over the cookies their cousin made for them because they were expecting a Wii.

4. No trading!

There are variations of this game during which you trade your gifts with other people, or take them from other people in a form of swapping. It's not very nice and certainly doesn't have much to do with the spirit of holiday gift giving -- so unless you're in a situation where everyone's a heartless Grinch, I wouldn't recommend allowing for it.

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