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10 Best Virtual Secret Santa Ideas for Christmas in 2023

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By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

Reviewed by Kara Funk

Senior HR Consultant, People & Culture

virtual secret Santa

Christmas season is officially upon us. This means you and your coworkers are racking your brain for some best virtual secret Santa ideas for a memorable holiday celebration. You may not know if a bunch of pens could truly surprise John  whom you only know from the weekly Zoom call. Alright, we get it and we are here to help you choose great Christmas gifts that are fun, thoughtful and even useful for a coworker. 

So, read on for the list of the 10 best virtual Secret Santa ideas that will undoubtedly keep you on St.Nick’s nice list. 

1. What is a Virtual Secret Santa?

A virtual Secret Santa party is the online version of the traditional gift exchange. Participants brainstorm best virtual Secret Santa ideas, communicate and exchange Christmas gifts online.The giver’s identity remains a secret but can be guessed depending on how well you know one another. 

Playing online Secret Santa is slightly different from playing it in person. Instead of passing around a bowl of paper chits for the team to pick turn by turn, you enter the participant’s names on a random name generator. To add a bit of fun to the exchange, you can have the recipients try guessing who their Secret Santa is! ), 

2. 10 Best Virtual Secret Santa Ideas for Remote team

2.1. Socks 🧦

Socks

Who doesn’t love a fun yet cute pair of socks as a present for virtual Secret Santa exchange? After all, everyone needs socks. You can add a personal touch by printing their furry best friend face, favourite sports team logo or a photo collage on socks. So you are basically combining practicality with a touch of personalization. 

Whether choosing a vibrant pair with quirky designs or opting for a subscription to a sock-of-the-month club, there are various ways to add an element of surprise to this seemingly simple gift. 

2.2. Wireless Charger 🔌

A wireless charger is always one of the best virtual Secret Santa ideas as it is practical and useful for people who use their mobiles a lot or are always on the go. Considering the number of different charger devices used, this is a practical gift as they are universally compatible. 

If you know what kind of phone your coworker uses, you can get them a specific charger. If you do not know, then you could pick a universally adaptable charger such as the TOZO wireless fast charging pad that works with wireless charging-enabled devices such as iPhones, Samsung, or Nokia.

2.3. Milk Frother 🥛

Personally, we take a pot that doesn’t let the milk boil all over the stove, but you do you! If your coworker is a coffee lover* and knows their Lattes and Espressos, ordering them a milk frother might just be the thing they need to log in to work fresh and bright-eyed!

A milk frother is a motorized handheld tool that creates foam from milk which can be used in your morning cup of joe. Our personal pick is the PowerLix Milk Frother and Whisk Foam maker. This mixer runs on a battery. All you’ll need to do is immerse the frother into the cup and turn it on. The magic happens in 20 seconds or less!

2.4. Cookie Decorating With Hooray Teams 🍪

vest virtual secret Santa ideas - Cookie Decorating

Looking to add a dollop of sweet fun to your list of  best virtual Secret Santa ideas? Then join Christmas Cookie Decorating Class by Hooray Teams, our sister site that covers a wide range of hosted virtual team-building events, each one more fun than the next. 

With an included kit and an expert to share tips and tricks through the 60-minute cookie decorating session, you’ll be a seasoned pro at sprucing up plain cookies into delicious works of art. The kit includes icing, sprinkles, and edible glitter, basically everything that you need to be able to decorate your cookie.

2.5. Grow Your Own Salsa 🍅

This one is one of our highly recommended best virtual Secret Santa ideas for holiday gifts! If a coworker loves plants and grows them, consider getting them the salsa growing kit which contains six seed packets for Roma tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapenos. 

You can find the grow salsa kit on Uncommongoods, which ships all over the U.S. The kit contains recycled egg cartons, instructions, and plant stakes to help you track how you're planting them. 'Uncommongoods' also sells avocado sprouts, seedling starter boxes, and other succulents if you want to opt for a microgarden!

2.6. Wine Glasses 🍷

Wine-Glasses

Wine glasses are an elegant addition to any dining table. If your virtual Secret Santa gives you a set, then you have something new to show off at your next virtual happy hour! With the right set of wine glasses, you’ll enjoy a more enhanced tasting experience. This in turn, allows you to fully appreciate the qualities of the wine you're enjoying.

We like Crate and Barrel’s Lucia Tulip Red Wine Glass and the Hip Wine Glasses. The latter contains an assortment of shapes per glass. 

2.7. Fruit-infused Water Bottle 💧

Fruit Infused-water bottles from Fruitzola by Good Living are the best way to stay hydrated! The bottle comes with an infuser pump to work in the fruit flavours and make for a great Secret Santa virtual gift. 

You can fill the inside of the tube with any fruit of your choice - berries, citrus, or mint and sip from it all day as you work. It is spill-proof and fits in most car cups, thanks to the cap screws. 

2.8. Engraved Artifacts 🏺

Engraved-Artifacts

Artifacts such as a brass mini telescope, sailor’s compass, or binoculars can be thoughtful Secret Santa gifts for people who like collecting antiques. They are a little more indulgent as far as virtual Secret Santa ideas go, but people do really enjoy them.

Buzzfeed had done a gift box swap between their Indian and US offices, and one of the colleagues was given a beautifully engraved set of binoculars from India! If the budget is between $20 and $40, try Stanley London’s website. The store carries nautical instruments, pocket compasses, and engravable plaques. We particularly liked the antique look of their brass pocket compass, which costs just $3.95 (without personalized engraving). 

2.9. Weighted Blankets 🛏

If you know your colleague has trouble falling asleep, these weighted blankets are the perfect gift to get them a good night’s rest. Weighted blankets are heavier and designed to mimic hugging, which creates a sense of security and makes for a great Secret Santa virtual gift.

It can fit a king or queen bed. The YnM glass bead blanket is made up of 7 layers that contour to the shape of your body. The price ranges from $35 to $250.

2.10. Foodies Dice 🥂🧇🍽️

Foodies-Dice

Do you have any amateur cooks in your team? Well, here are the best virtual Secret Santa ideas for them to put their skills to the test. The Foodies Dice are a perfect gift idea for people to cook things a little bit out of their comfort zones. You can even make it a team thing and plan the food for your next virtual event with this gift. 

You can also use the foodie dice to lock down the ingredients for everyone. The best part? It's vegetarian and vegan-friendly, so you can mix and rotate dishes according to everyone’s preferences!

3. Tips on How to Host a Virtual Secret Santa?

Here are some useful tips to help you organize a successful virtual Secret Santa party: 

3.1. Set a Budget

Pick a gift limit that everyone can afford, bearing in mind any extra charges for shipping that may apply. No one should feel pressured into getting their recipient an impractical and/or expensive gift. Also, once the budget is fixed and communicated to the participants in advance, there’s a high likelihood that they’ll be able to find the gifts at a discount. 

3.2. Choose a Date

Traditionally, secret Santa is played on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This is in line with the belief that Jolly ol’ St. Nick will slide down the chimney with his sack of Christmas gifts for little children! Suppose your office is observing that week as a holiday. In that case, you can plan to organize your Secret Santa event the week prior to ensure that everyone’s present and accounted for before the holidays. Be sure to send out an invite to all participants with a link to the event so that they have the date and time reserved on their calendars.

3.3. Use an Online Secret Santa Generator

Send the link to an online Secret Santa generator to all interested participants. A few sites that create wish lists by name and email are:

  • Arcanis - a simple secret santa generator that  generates individual links for people to use to know who they have to buy Christmas gifts for! 
  • DrawName - this site’s virtual secret santa generator lets you reuse last year’s list in a way that prevents repetitions in pairings. 
  • Mywishlistonline - lets you add exclusions such as Participant A not drawing Participant C’s name and vice versa.
  • Prezzybox - lets you enter your details and a personal message before moving on to the online Secret Santa list. 

3.4. Invite Participants to Share Their Wish List

Once the list is mailed to everyone, the next step is to keep tabs on special requests. If you’re the organizer, you can make sure that the right requests are seen by Secret Santa so that they can find and buy it in time. 

3.5. Mail the Gifts

Check in with the team about a week before the game to see if everyone was able to get their best virtual Secret Santa ideas for gifts and mail them to the person. They can give you the tracking numbers or reference if the shipment is still in transit. Make sure to set a meeting date when everyone has confirmed that they’ve received their gifts and can make it to the meeting. 

3.6. Exchange Gifts Through Video Calls

Now it's time for the virtual Secret Santa party! Welcome the participants and ask them to turn on their videos. The group can exchange greetings, and you can plan to do 1 or 2 icebreaker activities just to get the conversation going - one fun icebreaker would be to ask the group a question like, “What was the best gift you’ve ever received?”

Following the icebreaker, give the group a countdown to start unwrapping their presents on camera. You can ask people turn by turn to share their gift and to guess who their secret Santa may be. Don’t confirm or deny any Secret Santas until all guesses are in and all presents have been opened.

4. FAQs

4.1. How to host a virtual Secret Santa on Zoom?

  1. Fix a date and time according to the arrival of gifts to every recipient and their availability for a Secret Santa virtual gathering. Send a Zoom invite link via email and include information about the event, such as the dress code (optional).
  2. Arrange for party snacks and a cocktail package to go to all participants to get them into the holiday mood. Order this separately to surprise them!
  3. Send out a reminder before the event and use the opportunity to check in on the gift ETA (already reached, in transit, or delayed?).
  4. Once everyone joins, break the ice with a few virtual team-building activities, icebreaker questions, and guess-the-gift rounds before unwrapping presents.

4.2. How do I pull names virtually?

Online name generators and Secret Santa organizers can help you fill out the details, such as the person’s name and email. They’ll be automatically sent a link to see who they will be buying the gift for. 

4.3. What is the best online Secret Santa?

The best sites for playing online Secret Santa are Arcanis, DrawNames, and Prezzybox.

4.4. Why do we play Secret Santa?

Secret Santa is a fun way for coworkers to get into the season of giving by allowing them to shop for their coworkers. Not only is there joy in gift giving, but the suspense of opening your gift and attempting to guess your ‘Santa’ is exciting and a great way to bring the team together. 

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