Classroom Secret Santa

Secret Santa activities in the elementary classroom.

By Elisa Jackson


secret santa

Having a Secret Santa gift exchange in the classroom is a fun way to celebrate the season. Students love trying to guess the name of their "secret santa." Here's how it works. Students are given the name of a student in the class to give a gift to, but everyone has to keep their recipient a secret until the last day. It creates excitement and suspense.

The first thing to do when organizing a Secret Santa exchange is to have students pick names out of a hat. After they do this, the teacher needs to record who everyone picked. This way if, and probably when, students forget who they have chosen, you can quickly pull out your list and tell them. Another thing to keep in mind is that students often have a hard time keeping this a secret. So you can pair up students that you know didn’t pick each other, and they can tell each other. This relieves the pressure of holding in this information, and they can have an ally in their secret surprise. You can also give team points or stickers to those students who have kept their secret until the end. And believe me, you will know if they have told or not. . . the other students usually tell you.

Once everyone has picked a name, it is important to give them a letter to take home to their parents about what you are doing. Included in this letter should be a date when they should bring in their gift, a price limit, and a signature space at the bottom for the parents to sign. Next to the signature line, have a check box so parents can say whether they can or cannot participate. Due to the economy, even a $5 gift may be hard for parents at this time. If you have families that cannot participate, you can go to a store such as Target, and get something for that student from the $1 bins. They have great items, and the student will not feel left out.

Although you should give students a date for bringing in the gifts, encourage students to bring them in early if they have purchased them already. This is so that even if they have the gift on the day you require it, they don’t forget them at home. This happens quite often. You can have a designated basket or area in your room for students to store their gifts. Make sure that the other student’s name is not on it though. Students can label it as such: “Susie’s Secret Santa.” This way, Susie knows who it is supposed to go to, can pick out the gift from the pile, but the other student will not know that it is for them, and see Susie put it in the pile.

And finally, students can create a card for their Secret Santa as an art project in class, but label it just like they did their gift. Here are more activities to do with your students related to a classroom Secret Santa activity.

Secret Santa Activities:

Santa Countdown

Students create an advent calendar for a countdown until Santa comes. You can do this for your Secret Santa date as well.

Christmas Around the World

Students use the Internet to do research on how Christmas is celebrated around the world. You could incorporate another country's tradition into your Secret Santa activity.

The Night Before Christmas

Students retell the story of "The Night Before Christmas" in their own words. You can do this the day before your own Secret Santa gift exchange.

Santa Word Jumble

Students unscramble words that have to do with Santa Claus.