Organizing And Planning A Dirty Santa

Planning and organizing a Dirty Santa gift exchange is very easy, but very important at the same time, because without setting some ground rules and arranging the right date for the party, the whole thing could turn into a disaster.

Here’s how you can plan and host a perfect Dirty Santa gift exchange party:


  • Determine best possible date
  • Decide the rules to apply
  • Select a Dirty Santa gift theme
  • Set the maximum spend limit
  • Announce the party date and include information
  • Collect RSVPs
  • Make food/drinks arrangements

Determine The Date

The date of the Dirty Santa party would depend on the setting. If you are doing a Christmas party with family on Christmas eve, and all the relatives will be over on that day, it’s quite simple, but lot of Dirty Santa parties happen at the offices and workplaces so the planning the date takes a bit more effort.

The goal is to pick the best date. What would a best date be? Simple – the date that the majority of the coworkers would be able to attend. Depending on the company schedule, this may be a working week day where everyone drops by after work hours or a weekend day that offers a bit more flexibility.

It’s important to understand that it might be impossible to accommodate everyone’s needs, but with a bit of inquiry, a better date can be found.

One tip often voiced by the party organizers is to ask around in general terms whether people prefer a weekday or a weekend. If the majority of the coworkers prefer one over the other, then you have your answer.

Sometimes office Dirty Santa parties are held a week or two prior to Christmas. It is not unheard of to have a party after Christmas, or even the day before. Sometimes these parties take place on new years eve. Generally speaking though, most office Christmas parties are planned for the first weeks of December.

Once you know whether or not your group prefers weekday or a weekend, create two options and ask them to choose. The most preferred date is this determined and can be set for your Dirty Santa gift exchange.

Set The Rules

So now that you have the date in mind, you are ready to announce it or send it to everyone by email, but before you do, set the rules for the Dirty Santa gift exchange, so that the guest know what kind of presents to bring to the party.

Have a look at the rules section and decide for yourself what rules and variations you want to apply to your party. Once you have it all set, either print it out, or even better – email it together with the party date so that your potential participants can RSVP to the party and have the rules handy as an attachment.

Set The Gift Theme

Generally it is not necessary to set the theme for Dirty Santa, but sometimes it is a good idea to do so. If you want to make the party more fun, set the theme to “GAG Gifts Only” or “Novelty Items Only”. This ensures that each gift is going to be unique, surprising and contributing to the fun atmosphere of the evening.

For some other great theme ideas have a look at the themes section.

Set Maximum Spending Limit

Even though it is a common sense to spend around $20 for a Dirty Santa gift, it might be a good idea to set the price range or the maximum spending limit in the rules, because if someone bring a gift of significantly better value than others, throw the gift exchange as everyone will be stealing that particular gift.

It is best to have multiple great and funny gifts that are of similar value to ensure better game play.

Announce The Date

Make the announcement and include the rules and expectations in it. If you are gathering your friends or family, give everyone a call or email them. If you are organizing a company event, it might be a good idea to not only email, but also post the event on the company website or blog, and include the link to event page in the email. This way if there are changes, you can always update the event page.

You can also set up an event with event tracking services. The advantage of having a dedicated event page is also the ability to manage RSVPs with ease and also distributing information directly on the event page. Taht way if there is an update to the event information, the guests can view it on the page itself.

Collect RSVPs

Next obvious step is to collect the RSVPs to have a good understanding of how many people will attend. It is a good idea to set the date that you can RSVP several days before the actual party so that you have time to prepare anything that’s necessary, including booking the venue or catering if that’s what’s your company will do.

Food and Drinks Arrangements

It is common for friends and family to contribute to the festive table with food of their choosing. Encourage everyone to bring something they are good at making. No restaurant can replace home cooked dishes that are specially made for the party.

If the party is adults only, include alcoholic beverages, cocktails, wine and beer. Otherwise it;s a good idea to stick with non alcoholic refreshments if the children will be present.

And as always, make sure that everyone has an arrangement to safely get home after the party, especially if the Dirty Santa party involves alcoholic beverages.

Have a great party and enjoy your holidays in 2024!

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Dirty Santa Facts

You don't have to stick with regular Dirty Santa gifts and can set a theme as part of the game rules. For example a theme could be "Funny Mugs", "Candles", "Funny Clothing" or just about anything.

When planning a Dirty Santa Party, the organizers must set a maximum amount allowed to be spent on a gift. The most common amount set in rules and spent happens to be 20 dollars.

Unveiling a gift can be as fun as the gift itself, this is why as a trick, people love to wrap a gift many many times to make unwrapping pain in the butt for the recipient. Frustration on the face of the giftee can be priceless.