Nanu How To: Secret Santa

christmas-presents (1)

Is money a little tight this Christmas? Are you running out of time to buy sackloads of presents? Do you simply have too many friends? Then a Secret Santa could just be the thing for you! I have organised and taken part in many “secret” festive gift-giving activities over the years, and have come up with this handy, step-by-step guide to carrying out a Secret Santa to rival the actual Lapland-based operation.  

  YOU WILL NEED: 4 – 40 people Any less, there’s no element of surprise; any more, it becomes a little unruly.   Pieces of paper with all your Santa-ees names on them If you can write them all on sticky labels (that still have the backing attached, of course), all the better. They can then double as the present label and there’s no risk of handwriting giving someone away.   A hat, box, bag, bowl etc from which to draw the names There are two ways to do this:

  1. Make everyone pick names at once. Getting people to gather all in the one place at the same time can be logistically tricky. However, it means that everyone is ready to go and saves you the job of chasing people up (never fun).
  2. Leave the hat/box/bag/bowl/etc somewhere where everyone has access to it with a big sign explaining the Secret Santa procedure. This is generally more convenient for everyone but the organiser, who will inevitably have to send a few “so… the secret santa…” texts. Also cannot guarantee that people won’t look at the name labels left in the hat/box/bag/bowl/etc. Risky.

I personally recommend Option 1 for groups of 10 or fewer people, and Option 2 for larger parties.  

  A budget £5 – Big Groups You might get your best pal, or you might get Tony from HR who you think you maybe once cc’d into an email. In these situations, I stick by a Jay-Z inspired motto of LOW MONEY, LOW PROBLEMS. Expectations in a £5 Secret Santa are rock bottom: joke gifts are the norm and a real present is an unexpected delight. Anything better than a Boots bath bomb will suffice. Top Tip: Never, EVER buy anyone a bath bomb.   £10 – Extended Friend Groups Breathe a sigh of relief here – you no longer have to buy all your pals presents! For the most part you should know what everyone is in to (unless someone’s relatively new boyfriend/girlfriend is unexpectedly included out of politeness. Those rules are simple: don’t buy them a bath bomb. In all seriousness, unless they are teetotal, the best option there is probably a nice bottle of wine). The budget isn’t high enough for anything outstanding/from Urban Outfitters, so it’s time to get creative and create tangential links between hobbies and your chosen presents. Top Tip: For the most part, a few smaller things looks more impressive than one big thing: add a nail varnish or a couple of pin badges to the main part of the present and it instantly seems more fulfilling.   £20+ – Close Friends/Flatmates/Family/Cult Members Bringing out the big guns with a £20+ budget suggests you really mean business. I recommend a 2-good-present-to-1-small-comedy-present ratio within your budgetary framework. This is not the

time to be generic, either – if you’re willing to spend that much on someone, you must know and like them at least a little bit. Therefore, in-jokes should take pride of place within your wrapping, and functional presents should be banned. Top Tip: Learn a (rare) lesson from Love Actually’s Mia and treat your recipient to something they want, not something they need.   An end in sight Pick a date on which to exchange your gifts, ideally no earlier than the 20th December to allow maximum purchasing time. It’s a nice excuse to have a big Christmas dinner or movie night. With any luck, everyone will be delighted with their gift(s), and you’ll have saved a pretty penny.

Happy Secret Santa-ing!

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