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Gift exchange gift cards from American Express

Secret Santa Gift Ideas: Throwing an Office Gift Exchange

Holding a holiday gift exchange in your office can be a great way to promote team camaraderie and create a festive holiday spirit to end the year on a high note. Here are a few tips to throw a gift exchange and help your employees pick suitable White Elephant or Secret Santa gifts for their co-workers.

Your Guide to Running a Successful Holiday Gift Exchange

A holiday gift exchange can be a great way to spread some cheer around the office this holiday season. Swapping Secret Santa gifts is probably the simplest and most common type of gift exchange—but for a change of pace, you might want to consider running a White Elephant gift exchange instead. Here’s a step-by-step guide to both.

Secret Santa Gift Exchange

  • Put the name of every employee in a hat to keep the gift exchange anonymous.
  • Let each employee draw one name. Each Secret Santa is responsible for giving a gift to the employee he or she picks.
  • Set guidelines and a reasonable price limit to keep the gift exchange appropriate, equitable and affordable for everyone.
  • Offer Secret Santa gift ideas to point your employees in the right direction. American Express® Gift Cards are always appropriate and a great way to ensure that recipients get gifts they can actually use.

If you want to increase the odds that each of your employees will get Secret Santa gifts they’ll truly appreciate, consider personalizing your holiday gift exchange. Have your employees fill out a questionnaire to indicate their favorite color, food, music style and movie genre. Let them list their hobbies, favorite indulgences, allergies, and a variety of personal preferences (coffee or tea, red or white wine, candles or incense, showers or baths, cook at home or make a reservation, etc.). Instead of simply choosing a name from a hat, picking someone else’s questionnaire can inspire a slew of more thoughtful Secret Santa gift ideas.

American Express Gift Cards: The Gifts that Stand Out
  • Can be used virtually anywhere in the U.S. where American Express Cards are accepted
  • Safer than cash because the funds can be replaced if lost or stolen*
  • Choose from a variety of designs appropriate for the holidays

White Elephant Gift Exchange

  • Each participant brings in a wrapped present (again, set guidelines and a reasonable price limit).
  • Have your employees draw numbers to create the picking order for the gift exchange.
  • Each participant opens a gift, then chooses to either keep that item, or trade it for another present that someone else has already unwrapped.
  • Open gifts are fair game until they’ve change hands three times.

A White Elephant gift exchange has several positive aspects for your team. It is fun and interactive, it engages the whole office simultaneously, and it involves a certain level of good-natured gamesmanship as employees compete to secure the most desirable gift. Compared to normal “draft” scenarios, people who pick later in this type of holiday gift exchange often end up with better gifts.

Whether you choose to run a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange, you can remind your employees that American Express Gift Cards are always well received. (You can also consider surprising the entire team with American Express Business Gift Cards as bonus gifts after the White Elephant or Secret Santa gifts are distributed, or offer them as incentive for the employees who bring in the most creative gifts.)

Happy gifting!

Holiday Gift Ideas from American Express

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