Dec 14

Six Steps For Hosting a Fun Secret Santa for Your Remote Employees

Recently, we talked about holiday layoffs. So, today, let’s discuss something more cheerful.

It is the holiday season, after all.

Celebrating the holidays at a traditional workplace is pretty straightforward. You book a venue, hire a caterer, and perhaps raffle off a few household appliances or a trip to someplace exotic.

But it’s 2021 (just a few weeks to 2022, actually), and some businesses don’t even have physical offices anymore. Loads of them work remotely, and have a distributed team all over the world at that. So, a typical Christmas party isn’t exactly on the books.

One thing you can do, however, is to host a Secret Santa for your remote employees?

Secret Santa 101

Secret Santa 101
In the Philippines, we refer to Secret Santa as Kris Kringle. (Alternatively, you can perhaps use this term if you work with Filipino remote workers for better recognition.)

The concept is pretty simple. Everyone draws a name, and they become the Secret Santa for that person. There are usually wish lists involved, and Secret Santas pick something out for their respective recipients.

Usually, the gifts are exchanged at the company Christmas party and then the identities of the Secret Santas are revealed as well.

So, how do we apply this to a remote setting?

How to Host a Fun Secret Santa Remotely

Pick a theme (or not).

picking secret santa theme

Themes can be fun! Whether it’s for the codenames to be used for the Secret Santa generator or for the gifts, they can add a bit of spice to the festivities.

For example, you could have fandom-themed codenames. Think Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or whatever the most popular show on Netflix is at the moment.

And since some people have difficulty drawing up their wish lists on the fly, a theme could help narrow things down. Perhaps you could try stuff for their home offices, something wellness-oriented, or even virtual gift cards to their favorite online shop!

Of course, this is simply optional. You could tell all the participants that they can opt out if they’re not comfortable. It’s all part of being an inclusive workplace.

Use an online Secret Santa generator.

There are plenty of Secret Santa generators online! Here’s one you can try.

It would be advisable to have one person take charge of entering the names of everyone who wishes to participate before distributing the link. It would make things more organised, certainly.

Set a budget.

secret santa budget

Sure, the holidays are a time of giving, but achieving a consensus on the budget for each gift can help set expectations – and eliminate the pressure to spend too much

If you’re working with a distributed team from the Philippines, for instance, a good budget would be Php500 (about AUD14) per person is quite reasonable.

But be sure to consult all the participants first. If they’re feeling generous and wish to spend more than the suggested amount, they’re also free to do so.

Draw up wish lists.

secret santa wishlist

Usually, Secret Santa generators and platforms have features for wish lists. In case you can’t find one that does, you can ask all participants to write up their wish lists and then collate them all on a Google document that everyone has access to.

Remind people to provide links to sites where the Secret Santas can purchase the gifts for their recipients. This is especially useful if they want something fairly specific.

Set up a secret Q&A forum.

secret santa forum

The trouble with Secret Santa is you can’t quite ask your recipient questions without blowing your cover. This is where a secret Q&A forum comes in.

Need to know what size your recipient is? Want to drop tantalising clues about your identity as a Secret Santa? Feel free to do that from behind an assumed username!

Provide details to aid the gift delivery process.

secret santa gift delivery

This is especially crucial when you’re doing a remote Secret Santa. When your recipient lives on another continent, you can’t exactly hand your present to them in person, right?

Hence, it’s best to have a directory of shipping details for all participants. Make sure they include contact information as well, and take down the directory immediately after the activity for privacy and security purposes.

Bonus: Hold an unboxing event or activity.

secret santa unboxing event

Half the fun of Secret Santa is unveiling your Secret Santa’s identity! So, one way to do this is to host a virtual party where each participant takes their turn to unbox their gifts live. Once they unwrap their gifts, they can then guess who their Secret Santa is – and the latter can confirm or deny if the recipient got it right.

(Of course, you should schedule the virtual party at least a week ahead of the deadline for all presents to be delivered.)

If that’s not possible, you could just have each participant post an unboxing photo or video – and then caption it with their best guess for their Secret Santa’s identity.

It’s almost a cliché to say it after almost two years of unprecedented events and changes, but times are changing. Work as we know it is no longer the same, and neither is the way we celebrate the holidays.

What will never change, however, is the need to connect. And a Secret Santa can be a great way to do that.

Granted, office Secret Santas can be complex, all the more so when they’re held remotely. Still, it’s worth the effort. Team members that know each other better and get along generally work better together too.

Besides, you can always get an amazing VA to set it up for you. At Remote Staff, we’ve been helping AU entrepreneurs like you find skilled remote workers from the Philippines to help them scale their businesses more sustainably.

So, whether you need a VA to get a great remote Secret Santa going or a whole team of them to help you run operations more smoothly all year-round, we’ve got you covered.

Call us today or schedule a callback and let’s get started.

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Disclaimer: The above article was written according to the information available as of press time.
All opinions and beliefs expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Remote Staff's, its employees, subcontractors, clients, and affiliates.

About The Author

Serena has been working remotely and writing content for the better part of the last decade. To date, she's written for and Mabuhay Magazine, among others, and has churned out more than a thousand articles on everything from The Basics of Stock Market Investing to How to Make Milk Tea-Flavored Taho at home. Hermits, aspiring hermits, and non-hermits with interesting project propositions may email her at

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