10 Best Virtual Secret Santa Ideas for This Christmas


The holidays are a special time of year, and bringing some of that joy and fun into the workplace is sure to set your organization apart. One of the best ways to do this is with the time-honored tradition of Secret Santa, which allows coworkers to play St. Nick amongst each other. For remote and hybrid teams, Secret Santa can be easily played virtually. Read on for the list of the 10 best virtual secret Santa ideas for your team this holiday season!

Read more: 30 And Above Virtual Holiday Party Ideas That Your Remote Teams Will Love  

1 What is a Virtual Secret Santa?

A virtual Secret Santa is the online version of the traditional gift exchange. The giver’s identity remains a secret but can be guessed depending on how acquainted one is with their coworkers’ preferences. 

Playing Secret Santa online 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.

The Santas know who they’re giving their gift to, but their identity isn’t revealed to the recipient before the recipient tries guessing who their Secret Santa is! 


Virtual Office Christmas Party Ideas

2 Why Do We Play Secret Santa?

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. 


Whether offline or online, secret Santa is guaranteed to put a smile on you and a coworker’s face!  

Virtual White Elephant Guide

3 How Do You Hold a Virtual Secret Santa at Work?

How do you hold a Virtual Secret Santa at work

3.1 Set a Budget

The first step is to 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. It gives the remote team equal footing and lets the Santas earmark or wishlist gifts. 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 Pick 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 gifts for little children! If your office is observing that week as a holiday, 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

  1. Arcanis: Arcanis is an open-source tool developed from Github’s repositories. It asks you to enter all your names on the right-hand side and then generates individual links for people to use to know who they have to buy gifts for! 
  2. DrawNames: This site’s generator lets you reuse last year’s list in a way that prevents repetitions in pairings. Participants can also choose two names instead of one. 
  3. Mywishlistonline: My wishlist online works like the other sites listed, but with a small difference. It lets you add exclusions (such as Participant A not drawing Participant C’s name and vice versa). Once you confirm the event date, the list goes out to the named participants.
  4. Prezzybox:  Prezzybox lets you enter your details and a personal message before moving on to the Secret Santa list. The email addresses entered notifies the recipient of them being registered for the virtual Secret Santa gift exchange.

3.4 Invite Participants to Share their Wish List

Once the list gets 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 virtual Secret Santa gifts and mail them to the person. They can give you the tracking numbers or reference if the shipment is still in transit. Adjust the date of the event according to everyone confirming 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 main event! 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.

Gifts For Remote Employees That Will Make Them Happy

4 Virtual Secret Santa Gift Ideas

Virtual Secret Santa Gift Ideas

4.1 Bombas Socks

Bombas Socks

A wireless charger is always a practical and useful Secret Santa virtual gift for people who use their mobiles in cars or when traveling. If you know what phone your coworker uses, you can get them a compatible charger. Or, you could always use 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.

4.2 Wireless Charger

Wireless Charger

A wireless charger is always a practical and useful Secret Santa virtual gift for people who use their mobiles in cars or when traveling. If you know what phone your coworker uses, you can get them a compatible charger. Or, you could always use 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.

4.3 Milk Frother

Milk Frother

Personally, I’d 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!

*–  Team SIWOM runs on ginger tea and coffee, so some of us would definitely love to see a frother on the gift list! 

4.4 Grow Your Own Salsa

Grow your own Salsa

This one is already one of my favorite virtual Secret Santa gift ideas! 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!

4.5 Wine Glasses

Wine Glasses

Wine glasses are an elegant addition to your 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!

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. 

4.6 Fruit-infused Water Bottle

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 flavors 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. 

4.7 Exploding Kittens


Exploding kittens is a game created by Elan Lee and Mathew Inman, author, programmer, and the man behind Oatmealcomics. If you’ve laughed at some of Inman’s relatable humor about work meetings, cats, and coffee, you’ll definitely enjoy playing this card game! The objective is to avoid drawing an exploding kitten card. Players take turns dealing cards, and if someone gets an exploding card, they blow up and are booted out of the game. You can stay alive by strategizing how to defuse the kittens using an array of weapons, such as laser pointers or catnip sandwiches. Introduce this card game at your next Fun Friday to surprise your coworkers or guests! Another great thing? It’s a great team-building game.

4.8 Engraved Artefacts

Engraved artefacts

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 gifted a beautifully engraved set of binoculars from India! If the budget is between $20 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 USD6 (without personalized engraving). 

4.9 Weighted Blankets

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.

4.10 The Northpole Brunch

The Northpole brunch

Have you and your coworkers ever talked of getting a virtual brunch or social lunch together during the weekday, which so far hasn’t materialized? Well, here’s your chance to host a special North Pole brunch using the Foodie’s dice! This gift pouch has 5 primary dice for protein and 4 for seasonal veggies. 

If brunch isn’t on the cards, you can also use the foodie dice to lock down a meal to cook for yourself. The best part? It’s vegetarian and vegan-friendly so that you can mix and rotate dishes according to everyone’s preferences!

Office Party Guide for Remote Teams

5 FAQs


5.1 How to play Secret Santa virtual 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.

5.2 How do you plan a Secret Santa at work?

Planning a virtual Secret Santa event requires a bit more planning and coordination than the in-person version. 

  1. You’ll need to gather interest from the team on who would like to participate.
  2. Once you have your list of participants, poll the group to settle on a gift amount for the Santas to stick to
  3. Next, run the participant’s names through a random name generator and send the pairing details out. Any special requests can also be added as a note to the gifter.
  4. Everyone should ensure that the items they’re shopping for can be delivered to the recipient’s location.
  5.  Factor in the delivery time to make sure it reaches them in time for the event.
  6. Record the unboxing and take as many screenshots as you want because this will be an exchange everyone will want to reminisce about later fondly!

5.3 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. 

5.4 What is the best online Secret Santa?

The best sites to play online secret Santa are – Arcanis, DrawNames, and Prezzybox.

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