Secret Santa: With a Twist!

Posted on Dec 17 2013 - 11:41am by Jessi Meehan

Many have the tradition of “Secret Santa”…where you draw names and each person is assigned someone to buy a secret gift for. As a young family, we did what we now call: “Secret Santa…with a Twist”.  With four kids who were all pre-teens and teens – the parents decided the gifts and commercialism needed to be toned down and the thoughtful actions and kindness to each other needed to be pumped up. This is our take on a tradition that encourages family time and thoughtfulness along with gift giving.


We would all come home and my mom would set a cute Christmas table for one of our favorite dinners…(we were all huge fans of spaghetti!) On the table was a small bowl to draw names from. We’d enjoy our dinner together and when we were done, everyone picked a name. Once we had our “Secret Santa” picked out, it was up to each of us to think of something nice, helpful, and thoughtful to do for our chosen person each day for about a week. It couldn’t be a material gift, but had to be something that meant even more: taking over doing the dishes for a night…or wiping up the counters for someone or even making a simple secret snack or cup of tea (on the sly) for one another.


We always had fun with it, as when we were done doing our special Secret Santa duties…we’d leave a little tag or note saying “Secret Santa was here”. Sometimes it would be attached to the dishwasher that had been emptied, or to the broom used to sweep up, or left next to someone’s freshly made bed. And when we finally got to confess who’d been helping who…it was always a great laugh because some of those “gifts” could get pretty creative.


I’m pretty lucky to have such awesome siblings, and thoughtful and creative parents. Try doing this kind of “Secret Santa” with your family! I’ll bet you’ll love what it brings out in the people you love. (And you might get your dishes done for you…score!)

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6 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Patti Adams December 17, 2013 at 11:00 pm -

    I love the twist to Secret Santa!! It reminds me a little of our families Holiday Happy. On Dec. 1st we get out our little wooden manger, next to it is a basket full of straw with a sign that talks about christ and doing service for others. Every time we do a good deed for someone else we’re suppose to put a piece of straw in the manger. In doing service for others we will hopefully put in enough straw by Christmas to make a soft bed for the baby Jesus. Merry Christmas!!

  2. Kayla Carter Arnold December 18, 2013 at 7:17 pm -

    My holiday happy is a warm fireplace, the smell of pinecones and apples, Christmas movies, family all around and all the trimmings on the tree!

  3. Kayla Carter Arnold December 18, 2013 at 10:19 pm -

    Dewaynes holiday happy is being home with family, his wife’s amazing cooking, carving the ham, watching Grayson open gifts and helping others

  4. Kayla Carter Arnold December 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm -

    Holiday happy, opening nuts with nut crackers, snuggling up in blankets, reading t’was the night before christmas

  5. SherryvAustin December 21, 2013 at 12:19 am -

    I love the Secret Santa idea. I got everything set up to announce our new Christmas tradition tomorrow at dinner. I explained the concept to my granddaughter today and discussed the concept of doing good deeds within our family so she would have some ideas to implement herself. Her eyes lit up and she asked if we could do this every year, needless to say she is excited. She also wants to take on the job to announce the game so I wrote her a little poem to kick it off, which says:
    It’s that time of year the Austin family needs to spread some cheer. Do unto others like the Good Book reads. Think of things you can do and aim to please. Keep it a secret for just a few days and your good deeds will be noticed in so many ways.

  6. Tania Atack December 24, 2013 at 9:38 am -

    Your secret Santa idea is great. what I did with my grandchildren I had a surprise little gift for them to open every morning that we were here. since they are 6&8 you can imagine the excitement build up till Xmas morning.
    Have a wonderfull Holiday with your family and love you guys so much! Tania and Brian