It’s my favorite time of year: Secret Santa Time! I’ve always loved Secret Santa, whether I was an elementary school student picking out the new coloring book I thought my peers would love or a high school shopping for the perfect sweater that my Secret Santa would show off at school or now, when I go overboard as a Secret Santa and put together a whole experience.

Over the years, I’ve honed my skills as a Secret Santa. I’m going to share my tips and tricks with you so that you too can be the best Secret Santa, no matter your scenario. Whether it’s an office exchange, among your closest friends, or with complete strangers, these tips will help you succeed and make it a Christmas your recipient will always remember.

Stalk their social media

Don’t be afraid to be a little creepy and scroll through your recipient’s social media, discovering the kind of things they like, what they’ve been wishing for, etc. This is also a great way to discover things they already have, stores and restaurants they frequent, if they have a pet, their favorite teams, etc. I’m not saying you need to hack into their Facebook Messenger, but scrolling through their Twitter or Instagram will give you a good sense of who they are and how you can shop for them.

See what books they’ve read and enjoyed

I love giving books as gifts, especially books I’ve loved and think my recipient will love, but it can be hard when you don’t know your person as well as you might know a close friend or family member. If you still want to give a book, and I always recommend it, you’ll have to do a little reconnaissance to figure out the kinds of books they enjoy and what they have and haven’t read. I like to go with more recent releases because they are less likely to have read them. Use social media and book sites like Goodreads or Amazon Wishlists to determine if they like nonfiction, thrillers, young adult novels, or fantasy, so that when you gift them a book, they’ll want to read it.

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Get the clothing size right—no matter what it takes

It is devastating to receive clothes as gifts that are way too big or way too small, so try and avoid that. I rarely gift clothes because it is so hard to tell what size people wear if you don’t know them personally, but if you have found the perfect shirt or sweater to gift, do your best to determine their size correctly. This can mean snooping in their closet if they’re your best friend, casually asking them what size sweater they’re wearing at dinner one day (implying you want to buy yourself one!) or straight up asking someone who would know. I’m not saying I’ve asked their mother before, but I’m not denying it either.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

I’m always wary of getting my Secret Santa recipient only one gift, unless I know it is THE gift. Most of the time, I don’t know my recipient super well and therefore I want to give them a few smaller gifts so that I know there is at least something they really enjoy. I call this not putting all my eggs in one basket (or present.) Of course, if you know the perfect gift, go for it. But, if like me, you’re nervous about that or can’t find the perfect gift, then go with a couple smaller gifts. This could include candles, cozy socks, a coffee mug, a pretty journal, etc. 

Spend a little extra for presentation

Most Secret Santa exchanges have a budget, say $25, but that usually doesn’t include shipping or presentation. I always spend a little extra on presentation to make sure my gifts arrive in tact and looking nice. If you’re shipping your gift, priority boxes at the post office are easy and cheap, but don’t just shove things in there and call it a day. Dress it up a little bit. Wrap the individual gifts inside it, perhaps. Use one of the nicer holiday boxes that the post office sells. You don’t need to spend a small fortune on nice presentation. A couple dollars can go a long way. One year I included tinsel in the package to make it festive. Be creative and it will pay off when they open it!

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member