Nov 252012

A Secret Santa gift circle is a great way to stay in-budget for the holidays.

For anyone who’s not familiar, a gift circle (often called a Secret Santa) is where everyone involved writes their names on slips of paper, and then each person draws a name randomly and buys a present only for that person.  So, each person in the circle gets one present.  Because you’re only spending money on one present, you can afford to spend a little more than usual on it.  It’s helpful to set a maximum or target spending amount so that people gives gifts that are roughly equal in value- depending on the culture and spending power of the group, a max limit of anywhere from $5 to $100 could be appropriate.

My husband’s family used to do the traditional gift-giving scenario for Christmas: everyone bought gifts for everyone.  It was fun to give and get lots of presents, but it was also expensive! One year someone broached the idea of doing a Secret Santa gift circle instead, where we would each write our name on a piece of paper, put the names into a hat, and then draw names to determine who would buy for who.  We set the limit per gift at $40.  Originally we drew names at Thanksgiving, though for shopping convenience we’ve now moved the name-picking date closer to Labor Day.    Holiday shopping is so much less stressful now- we have fewer people to shop for, and a set spending limit for the gift circle (it’s now $50 per gift).  It’s super fun to show up at our family gathering with our secret gifts, waiting to surprise our gift recipient.

You can suggest a gift circle in lieu of gift exchanges at your work place, for each side of your family, and for groups of friends.

Are you a part of any gift circles for the holidays?  If not, do you plan to start one this year?

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