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How to Organize a Secret Santa Gift Swap

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BC chapter.

Gifts are one of the best parts about the holidays. Everyone loves to receive something picked out especially for them and the excitement of waiting to see someone’s reaction to the perfect gift you got them can be almost too much to bear at times. So this holiday season, extend the tradition of gift-giving beyond just your immediate family or best friends by throwing a Secret Santa party for your whole crew!

#1 – Make a Guest List

Unlike other parties which can be more relaxed when it comes to invites, the guest list is the very backbone of any gift swap party. Try for a good mix of people so everyone feels comfortable getting each other a present, but also consider extending beyond your immediate friend group; after all, it is the holiday season and the more the merrier!

#2 – Create Gift Guidelines

Whether it’s under $10 or under $50, set a price limit for gifts so no one feels awkward accepting a more expensive gift than they bought or feels obligated to spend more than they feel comfortable with.

#3 – Decide How to Exchange Names

It’s the twenty-first century, and nearly everything can now be done online — including drawing names for a gift swap! Drawnames.com is one website that does just that. With features such as the ability for each of your guests to create their own wishlist, the ability to anonymously send questions to your drawee, and email reminders as the day of your party draws near, this app is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for an online alternative. Otherwise, simply write everyone’s name on a slip of paper, toss them all around in a bag and draw randomly!

#4 – Set a Time and Place

This is pretty straightforward. Set a time and place for your party and get the word out. Whether you decide to create an Evite, Facebook event, or just a group text, make sure to tell everyone knows the party logistics and RSVPs.

#5 – Mention Any Dress Code

Nothing is more embarrassing than showing up to an ugly Christmas sweater party all dressed up in your brand new LBD. Holiday parties tend to be more formal than parties at other times of the year, so make sure you let your guests know what the dress code is, be it formal, casual, ugly sweaters, or even costumes!

#6 – Plan the Menu

Are you serving dinner? Or just snacks? Decide whether or not you’re serving alcohol at your party and make sure to include non-alcoholic beverages as well for designated drivers and those who choose to not drink. Similarly, make sure to account for any party guests have any allergies or special dietary needs and plan to have alternatives available.

#7 – Make the Christmas Playlist

There are tons of pre-existing Christmas playlists online already. I recommend using one that you like and editing it to your liking. Shuffle through it a few times to double check that they all flow together and then jam out!

#8 – Decorate Your Place

Nothing sets the mood of a party like decorations. Now is a great time to test our your party playlist and get into the holiday spirit by totally decking out your place. The look on your guests’ faces when they walk in will surely be worth it.

#9 – Invite a Friend or Two Over Early

Avoid the awkward first-person-to-arrive-at-the-party situation by inviting a friend or two to come over early. An extra pair of hands is always appreciated and having multiple people hanging out already will set the party vibe before the first guest even walks in!

#10 – Have Fun!

Now for the most exciting part, it’s party time! Whether you decide to exchange gifts right away or later in the evening is up to you. Open them one at a time or all at once. Give each gift personally, try to guess who got it for you, or even just leave it anonymous! The details are up to you, but the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy your time together.

Happy gift-swapping!




Rising sophomore at Boston College.
Vanessa is a senior at Boston College studying Economics and Communications. She is proud to be the Campus Correspondent of Her Campus at Boston College!