How to set up a traditional Scandinavian Secret Santa Game

We know you read a lot about Secret Santa from us these days. But how do you set up such a game with friends and what is Julklapp, the Scandinavian way of playing it? The game usually takes place in the weeks before Christmas and is a secret gift exchange between friends or acquaintances in order to spread the spirit of the act of giving. 

For a traditional Secret Santa Game the participants have to meet twice. The following steps include both the drawing session (step 1-3) as well as the gift-giving date (step 4 and 5). The second part is often combined with a Christmas party in a certain social circle. 

Following you can learn how to easily set up a Secret Santa Game:

 Step 1: Write down all participants 
Write a list with all the names of the players. In case the group is big or not all people know each other so well, we recommend to additionally write some hints describing the person on the paper; e.g.
“Anton, 26 years, passionate biker and cryptocurrency enthusiast”

Step 2: Create the name lottery
Cut out the names, fold the papers to hide them, put the pieces into a hat or a bowl and shuffle them. 

Step 3: Let people draw and decide a gift-giving date 
Let everyone draw a name but make sure they don’t show it around. We know it’s hard – but the best Secret Santa games are those when nobody knows each others presentee. If somebody draws their own name, they redraw and put their own paper back. 

Following the drawing the group decides upon a gift-giving date, if this was not done before already.

In step four and five you can read more about the second part of the game. 

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Step 4: Purchase presents
Before the second event every Secret Santa player goes out and purchases the perfect gift for the their presentee. We recommend buy personal gifts and to avoid generic things. Remember to stay in the price range to avoid uncomfortable situations at the gift-giving event.

Step 5: Preparation & exchange of gifts (the Scandinavian way) 
Depending on your own choice this can be done in different ways.
However, we – obviously – recommend to do it in the traditional Scandinavian way and NEVER disclose who gives and receives a certain gift is. This means the Secret Santas remain undercover.

In order to make each present reach the right person, the gifts should be tagged with a hint about the recipient. This can be a poem, a story about them or another creative way describing them. Thereafter the presents are secretly placed together under the Christmas tree or on a table. 

Now: Let the gift-giving begin! 

Additional tips:
We highly recommend to set a price range to prevent people trying to be cheap while nobody should be overspending. The range can be very different depending on the group, but should be thought through well to not exclude anyone (too expensive). Likewise the gifts shouldn’t be too cheap, since it can make the whole game appear cheap. However in the end it’s about the fun and the gesture of giving!

If you don’t have time for the initial meeting to draw the names in a traditional way, the internet can help you with several solutions such as this Secret Santa gift exchange organiser / Kris Kringle generator


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