How to host the ultimate socially distanced Secret Santa

It's no secret that we have a completely different holiday season this year.

But, that doesn't mean there's no more fun! You can still keep up old traditions, or maybe start a new one. And one classic holiday tradition is Secret Santa!

Secret Santa is *so* fun because you can do it with just about any group, from your volleyball team to your large extended family to your fave friends.


Helpful hint: the smaller the group is, the easier it is to organize. You don't want *too* few people though; 4-8 participants is a good number to keep the mystery alive while avoiding the headache of getting a big crowd organized!

In order for Secret Santa to run smoothly, you need to have a couple ground rules in mind. 

First, decide on the maximum amount people should spend on their gifts; $15-$30 is a good range. Nobody should be breaking the bank for a fun holiday tradition! And PS, sometimes the *best* presents are homemade.

Second, have everyone write out anything gift givers should know. If you have sensitive skin, certain makeup or skincare products might not be a great gift. If you want to take it one step further, have everyone write out likes and dislikes to give their Secret Santa a guide. Make sure you know what people are comfortable recieving, and if you're not sure, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Lastly, make sure to have a deadline, and send out reminders!

And while ordinarily you'd host a sleepover for the big reveal, complete with your dad's famous apple cider recipe and a screening of *all* the classic holiday movies, this year we have to prioritize safety and health. 

Introducing....Snail Mail Secret Santa!


Everyone makes and sends a curated gift box (filled with *all* the giftee's favorites). Double win; you observe distance protocol *and* get an adorable holiday present in the mail!

Rather than picking names in person, gather your group on Zoom and use a name picking generator; is a great one! But make sure you get mom or big sis to do the honors so that you don't spoil the surprise for yourself! 

Once you have your person, have fun with it! Don't get too stressed, and if you're totally stuck, do some recon. If your giftee's Instagram is basically a shrine to music, frame a super cute pic of the two of you at Rolling Loud, order the vintage Pink Floyd band tee she's been eyeing, and throw in a pair of fun pineapple shaped earbuds. You can even subtly ask them for gift ideas ("Hey Casey, it's my cousin's birthday tomorrow and I'm totally spacing! What do you think I should get her, new makeup brushes or cute fairy lights for her room?") 

When the deadline comes and everyone has their Secret Santa box, decide as a group how you want to proceed! Does everyone want to open boxes together via Zoom or in person (socially distant!), or would people feel more comfortable opening their gift privately? Either way, make sure you give a heartfelt thank you to your Secret Santa (thank you cards are always appreciated!) 

And hey, maybe you can finish off the night with a Netflix Party movie marathon of Christmas movies or by hand delivering mugs of Dad's apple cider to the participants. Just like last year!

Are you going to host a Secret Santa this year? Let us know on Twitter @girlslifemag 


Slider image:


by Elina Graham | 11/18/2020