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Tuesday, December 24, 2019

A Fun Family Secret Santa Game


I feel like every time Christmas comes around, people are so unsure what to do about gifting. Especially if you have many kids, what will you do? How many gifts will you give each kid? Will kids give each other gifts? How much will this add up to financially?

I've long known about the game Secret Santa and have participated in it many times, but I never thought about doing it with my kids until my friend N recommended it and said that she does it every year with her family for the holidays.

For those of you who haven't heard of this game, the way it works is each person is assigned someone else to be their "secret Santa". When you do this, you're supposed to secretly do nice things for your assigned person without them knowing who is doing it for them, and also get them a gift, again secretly, and then after the period of the game, you reveal yourself.

I was recommended that when doing this with my kids, I give everyone a certain amount of money to spend, and then let them go around a mall buying things that the other person would enjoy. I knew my boys were old enough to do this, but knew my girls would need help.


Often when a Secret Santa game is done, there's a person assigning the people to others so that everyone has someone else and no one ends up with themselves, but because I wanted to participate, and I wanted to make sure that the people playing were able to figure out what to gift the other person with, I assigned both girls each other, and then for myself and the boys, we drew lots, and put back when someone got themselves. (The kids figured out that because there were so few people involved, they could figure out who had them by who they didn't have. Oh well. If you have a larger family you can still do it that way, or get a friend to assign.)


We had a group conversation about what types of things we wanted and didn't want, Lee said he wanted either cool techie stuff or a basketball, Ike said he wanted Lego stuff ideally with swords and fighting people, Anneliese said she wanted makeup, and Rose said she wanted jewelry. I said I wanted cool kitchen stuff or jewelry.

I considered giving each of them $3 like my friend did, but since we're not really doing other gifting this year (more on that in another post), I decided to give everyone a budget of $15.

I took Anneliese and Rose with me to a toy shop in the mall, and each looked for something that they thought the other would enjoy, and then snuck it to the register without the other one seeing it. I helped them work out what was within their budget, and they did a really wonderful job with it. I got Lee his present there too. After that, I took them to the mall's supermarket to buy a treat for their person, since there still was money left in the budget.

The boys went around the mall on their own and found their own things and came back really excited and nervous about whether the other one will like their gift.


To be honest, I really wanted this game to last a few days, and save the presents for another date, and build up the anticipation of who their secret Santa was, but my kids were too impatient and wanted to gift already then.

Everyone was really thrilled with their presents.

Anneliese picked out two kids jewelry sets for Rose and also a pack of sour sticks.

Rose picked out a kids' makeup set and a doll that turns into a cupcake and a pack of Skittles.

Lee picked out an imitation Lego set for Ike.

I picked out a basketball as well as a mini hoop and mini basketball for Lee to hang in his room, and a bag of chips.

Ike had the hardest job, picking out something for me.

He got me these beautiful rinestone earrings and a kitchen knife and a peeler.

This was really fun, and I think I will make this a yearly tradition.

If you want something fun to do with your kids, and a way for them to think about doing something nice for the other instead of just wondering what present they will get, I highly recommend this.

Have you ever done a Secret Santa game with your kids? From what age? How much of a budget do you usually set? How does it work with them?

1 comment:

  1. Hi. I just wanted to let you know there is a pretty major typo in your recent guest post about being more eco friendly. Instead of rayon being a dangerous chemical in your home it should be radon. I love rayon clothing and would be sad if I had to give it up! I couldn't find a way to email you about this so I put it here, knowing you would see it. Happy Holidays!

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