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Secret Santa Is Super Helpful When Money Is Tight

Christmas Gifts
Matt Cardy, Getty Images

Money is definitely tight for everyone this time of year, but that’s no reason to be a Scrooge. Coming from a moderately-sized Italian family, Christmas is the mother of all holidays in my house. Gift-giving is fun, but can wind up being insanely costly (not to mention stressful!) so this year? We’re switching it up: Secret Santa to the rescue. Even better, there are several ways to do this.

I’m more of a traditionalist…so my family is going with the basic version: I wrote down the names of everyone who would be involved on slips of paper, and did a basic ‘pull a name from a hat’ thing. If you pull out your own name, you put the slip back and pick again. (We did this in my house on Thanksgiving, and not everyone was there, so we had to do it via envelope…slightly more complicated, but whatever, make it work.)

You are responsible for buying a gift for the person you draw.  We decided on a limit of $75, so instead of receiving 10 lame cheapie gifts you don’t want, you get one really good gift.

The second option is the silly version. It’s often known as “Dirty Santa” or “White Elephant”. The price limit is much lower, and you buy a gag gift*. All the gifts go in a pile, and when it’s time to open them, you pick a number from a hat to decide the order of gift picking.

You can either decide to open them as soon as they are picked or leave it wrapped, but after the first person takes their gift, the person after them can decide to pick from the pile, or pick the gift from the previous picker (or ANY of the previously picked gifts).

*Note: you can also do this with regular (non-gag) gifts, but it’s much harder to find a decent gift that EVERYONE could possibly like.

This version is much trickier, but can be entertaining, depending on the people in the group.

The most important thing is to have fun with it…it’s the holidays, it shouldn’t give you anxiety. Spare your wallet and your sanity and remember the best part about the holidays is spending time with the people you love.

Have you ever done a Secret Santa?

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