After last Christmas, it occurred to us that most of the kids in the family are grown now – some even married – so it might be a good time to revisit how we handle Christmas gifts and keep spending under control.   What we decided to do was go to a Secret Santa system for anyone over 18 who wants to participate while letting people shop however they want for the kids.

Having never organized a Secret Santa before, I immediately started digging (that’s what I do) into variations to determine how we wanted to do this thing.  It did not take long to find tools that make this whole process easier.

The one we have settled on is Boogspace’s Secret Santa Generator.  It is free and offers everything we needed.  It allows you to add your list – along with special features to control for people who should not be shopping for each other – and have the drawing and notification (by SMS or Email) done right from the standalone tool.  Nobody has to register on the site — not even the organizer.

Their FAQ explains it better:

How does the Secret Santa Generator work?  – Fill out your name, email address, and enter a list of participants in the Secret Santa gift exchange. Determine the number of presents for each participant, and if duplicates Secret Santas for the same participant are okay, then select the appropriate boxes for each. Click the “Submit” button.

Then, if you want the names to be sent to each of your participants via email, enter their email addresses, a private note, and click the “send email” button.

What if I don’t want one person picking another person’s name? – When entering your list of names, please use the following format:

Name,{exclude-name, exclude-name, etc.}

“Name” is the name of a participant and “exclude-name” is the exact name of another participant. So, your list would look something like this:


Please make sure you include the comma after the name and note that the excluded names are in braces “{ }”and not brackets “[ ]”. If you do not use the above format, you will get an error.