11 Fun Ways To Liven Up Your Virtual Secret Santa Gathering

A gift-giving game that leaves everyone happy.

by Lauren Grant
ozgurdonmaz/E+/Getty Images

While the holidays are getting a virtual makeover thanks to the coronavirus pandemic this year, there's still much to be excited about — loved ones, good food, and gift-giving. But everyone is wondering what our usual festive occasions will actually look like. Enter: the virtual Secret Santa party.

Thought to have stemmed from philanthropist Larry Dean Stewart, Secret Santa parties are a relatively new Western tradition. Countries like the United States, Canada, England, and Ireland all play some variation of the gift-giving game, sometimes playing tricks on one another during the gameplay. No need to worry about setting a vendetta against your best friend during this holiday get-together, though. It's different from White Elephant parties, in that everyone leaves with the original gift intended for them during Secret Santa.

After you've drawn names — try websites like Elfster and Giftster — and settled on a gift price, you'll want to make the party happen on Zoom. Since you won't be there in-person, you'll probably want to make a few changes, like everyone exchanges virtual gifts this year, along with some pre-planned activities to liven up the party. Below, you'll find 11 fun ideas to have the best virtual Secret Santa gathering.

1. Give Back To Those In Need


In the initial planning stages — aka before you all sit down at your computers and unwrap gifts — talk over with your friends on ways you can give to those in need. Perhaps everyone buys two of the same gift with an agreement to give the second to their local charity.

2. Virtual Game Time

A great ice breaker, Jackbox has been the go-to life saver for virtual events in 2020. They even have a lineup of classic games that are perfect for the holiday season. Learn and have fun with games like Dictionarium and Fibbage.

3. Guess The Gifter

A classic game of "guess who sent who what?" Just be sure to anonymously mark your postage or digital gift so you don't give yourself away beforehand.

4. Speed Gift-Wrapping Competition


With those charity gifts you and your crew bought you can have a fun and speedy competition of who can wrap the fastest. You can also have an honorary category for who wrapped the best.

5. Holiday Bingo

A round or two or three of this gaming classic and everyone's spirits are bound to be lifted. Grab some fun bingo cards here or play virtually with websites that do all the hard work for you.

6. Festive Baking

Decide beforehand what goodies to prepare and then get those treats ready for Santa by having a baking session with your party guests.

7. Santa Drawing Competition

Who can draw the best version of Jolly 'Ol Saint Nick in 60 seconds? Winner picks the next activity!

8. Christmas Karaoke


Christmas caroling is so last year. Virtual Christmas karaoke is the way to go in 2020. Put on a virtual karaoke concert with your friends with some classic tunes like Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You."

9. Writing Letters To Santa

Don't worry, you don't have to actually send them to the North Pole (unless you really want to). With the growing popularity of journal prompts, this activity is perfect for filling one's cup and giving everyone a mental break around the holiday chaos.

10. Christmas Trivia

Whether you decide to guess the Christmas song or long lost holiday facts, this game is sure to be insightful and fun for everyone.

11. Watch A Movie Together

Nothing like ending the night with a classic holiday film like It's A Wonderful Life or a Christmas romance like Love Actually. Boot up Teleparty and get cozy with some hot cocoa.