Science of People - Logo

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

With the holidays just around the corner, you’re likely to be invited to participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange. They’re a popular way to swap presents among families, friends, and coworkers. It builds connection and good feelings as they think about delighting another person with a gift.

But what if the name you draw isn’t a person you know well? Gather your jingle bells and get ready to mingle. We’ve got you covered with over 200 questions for everyone–from kids to adults to coworkers– that will help you find a fabulous gift for everyone on your secret Santa list.

Secret Santa Gift Exchange 101

If you decide to coordinate a secret Santa gift exchange or participate in one, these are the steps to gift exchange greatness.

Step 1: Draw names. Have everyone who wants to participate put their name on a piece of paper. Then everyone takes turns drawing a name, and the person whose name is drawn is the person you buy for. 

Step 2: Agree on a price limit. Because not everyone is working from the same budget, it’s nice for the group participating to set a price limit so that no one feels uncomfortable or unable to participate.

Step 3: Plan an exchange event. Pick a date to exchange gifts. Then keep the name of the giver a secret. Allow the recipients to guess after opening their gift.  

Pro Tip: If you’re the gift exchange organizer, you can distribute these printable secret Santa questions to all the participants to help gift-givers find something memorable or meaningful.

Unique Secret Santa Questions

These unique secret Santa questions will give you deeper insight into your gift recipient.

  1. Would you call yourself a minimalist or collector?
  2. Do you like homemade gifts?
  3. Would you consider yourself a “techie”?
  4. Do you prefer sentimental or funny gifts?
  5. What is one thing you already have enough of but would like more of?
  6. Have you developed any new hobbies recently?
  7. What are you reading these days?
  8. What most intrigues you right now?
  9. Do you have a quote or phrase that you live by?
  10. Finish this sentence. Multiple pillows on a couch are …
  11. What is the body part you like most about yourself?
  12. When brings you joy when you are sad?
  13. What’s the most fun part of traveling?
  14. What’s your most controversial opinion?
  15. What do people most often remark about you?
  16. Have you ever been told you look like a celebrity?
  17. How would you spend a million dollars?
  18. Who is your hero?

Learn how to master any situation with this comprehensive resource where you’ll learn to eliminate awkward silences, build rapport and create deep connections.

Communicate With Confidence

Do you struggle with small talk? Do you often run out of things to say or feel awkward and self-conscious in social situations?

Our Conversation Mastery Course teaches you the secrets of master conversationalists and gives you the skills you need to have confident, engaging, and captivating conversations with anyone, anywhere.

Secret Santa Questions for Kids

Use these questions with the younger generation to set you on the path to gift-giving genius.

  1. What’s your favorite snack?
  2. If you could only eat one food item for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  3. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
  4. It’s pizza night. What are your favorite toppings?
  5. What is your favorite restaurant?
  6. What is your favorite meal?
  7. Do you play an instrument?
  8. Who is your favorite famous person?
  9. What would your best day look like?
  10. Would you rather go to Disneyland or Legoland?
  11. Do you have a favorite superhero?
  12. What was the best day you’ve ever had?
  13. What’s your favorite toy?
  14. If you could have more of something, what would it be?
  15. What’s your favorite game to play?
  16. What do you do when you’re bored?
  17. Do you like to read?
  18. What’s your favorite time of year?
  19. Do you enjoy video games?

Secret Santa Questions for Teens

Rather than giving teens cash, use these questions to help you figure out a gift or gift card they may really enjoy.

  1. What are you planning to buy for yourself next?
  2. What are you most excited about these days?
  3. What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
  4. What one item could you not live without?
  5. How do you prefer to learn—by reading, listening, or hands-on instruction?
  6. Do you listen to more music or podcasts?
  7. Who is your favorite content creator?
  8. Who was part of your favorite memory?
  9. What is the best social media channel to follow?
  10. What’s the trend you’d like to learn more about?
  11. What would you do if you had a full day without school or work?
  12. What is your favorite sweet treat?
  13. Would you choose pizza or pasta?
  14. Do you like sushi?
  15. Do you prefer bagels or muffins?
  16. Do you enjoy savory or sweet foods more?
  17. Do you consider yourself a snacker?
  18. What style of music do you listen to regularly?
  19. Have you ever played a competitive sport?
  20. Do you have any pets?
  21. When was the last time you went on a family vacation?
  22. Have you ever traveled on your own?
  23. Where would you visit if money wasn’t an object?
  24. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  25. Would you go bungee jumping?
  26. Do you consider yourself adventurous?
  27. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
  28. Are you a spender or a saver?
  29. How would your best friend describe your personality?
  30. What is one thing adults don’t know about you?
  31. What’s your favorite app?
  32. Do you watch media on a phone or a tablet?
  33. What’s your favorite form of entertainment?
  34. What image is on your phone’s wallpaper? 

Whether you’re hosting family or friends, find 135 Best Christmas Icebreakers And Games (For Any Situation)

Secret Santa Questions for Adults

Learn more about the adults in your Secret Santa circle with these questions. You may also learn something that leads to a stronger bond or common interest!

  1. What’s your favorite after-work drink?
  2. Do you eat gluten-free, keto, or any other special diet?
  3. Do you enjoy baking?
  4. What’s your familiarity with your kitchen from 1-10 (with 1 being a beginner and 10 meaning expert)?
  5. Do you have a microwave?
  6. Do you have an air fryer?
  7. What do you most enjoy cooking?
  8. Do you like to order room service when on vacation?
  9. What country would you like to travel to next?
  10. Do you enjoy traveling solo or in a group?
  11. How many countries have you visited?
  12. Do you have a green thumb?
  13. Do you like succulents or air plants?
  14. What type of houseplants do you like?
  15. Have you ever played pickleball?
  16. Do you bowl?
  17. Do you know how to play horse in basketball?
  18. Do you wear perfume or cologne?
  19. Do you have any allergies?
  20. How would you describe your personal style?
  21. Have you ever swum in the ocean?
  22. Do you prefer to stay in an Airbnb or hotel?
  23. Which do you enjoy most—planes, trains, or automobiles?
  24. Do you enjoy camping?
  25. Do you like to host gatherings?
  26. What makes a cozy atmosphere for entertaining in the home?
  27. Do you prefer cloth or paper napkins?
  28. Do you enjoy setting the table?
  29. What is your favorite seasonal décor?
  30. What type of décor would you like more of?
  31. Do you like thrifting?

Easy Secret Santa Questions

Here are 30 quick and easy questions to guide you in your gift exchange.

  1. What is your favorite color?
  2. Are you a dog or a cat person?
  3. Do you consider yourself an early bird or a night owl?
  4. What is the first thing you drink in the morning?
  5. Which do you prefer, coffee or tea?
  6. What’s your favorite beverage?
  7. Do you drink still, sparkling, or flavored water?
  8. On a night out, what is your beverage of choice?
  9. Do you prefer cooking at home or having food delivered?
  10. You’re out for dessert. Would you prefer ice cream, frozen yogurt, or sorbet?
  11. Would you rather have an appetizer or dessert (or both!)?
  12. Do you prefer pie or cheesecake?
  13. Do you prefer cheesecake or apple tart?
  14. White, sourdough, wheat, or multigrain bread?
  15. What’s the best sandwich?
  16. Do you prefer hot or cold sandwiches?
  17. What is your favorite type of food?
  18. What was the last thing you made from scratch?
  19. Do you enjoy eating from charcuterie boards?
  20. Do you have siblings?
  21. Do you enjoy doing puzzles?
  22. Do you consider yourself creative?
  23. Finish this sentence: A day of shopping sounds…
  24. What is your favorite movie?
  25. What type of music do you like?
  26. Do you watch professional sports?
  27. Do you have a favorite candy or chocolate?
  28. What do you do on rainy days?
  29. Do you wear nail polish?
  30. Do you prefer outdoor or indoor activities?

For additional ways to make the holiday season easier, read How to Survive a Holiday Party for tips on showing your seasonal spirit without being awkward.

Secret Santa Questions for Friends

You may know a great deal about your friends, but these questions are sure to help broaden your knowledge about their tastes and send you shopping in the right direction.

  1. Do you prefer to sleep in or stay up late?
  2. What time do you usually get up in the morning?
  3. Do you use an alarm to wake up?
  4. What mode of transportation do you use to get to work?
  5. Do you use soap or body wash?
  6. Do you have a favorite flower?
  7. Do you prefer new and modern or antiques?
  8. What’s your favorite scent for personal care items?
  9. Do you like electric or traditional candles?
  10. What was the last movie you saw in the theater?
  11. If you could publish a book, what type would it be?
  12. Whose autobiography would you most like to read?
  13. Do you enjoy travel planning?
  14. Do you carry on or bring as much luggage as you can?
  15. Do you prefer an inflatable pillow or an eye mask on an airplane?
  16. Would you rather go to a theme park or a nature park?
  17. Would you travel around a country with just a backpack?
  18. What is your favorite travel destination?
  19. Where do you hope to visit in the next few years?
  20. What’s your favorite travel accessory?
  21. Do you speak another language?
  22. Was there a movie that brought happy tears to your eyes?
  23. Have you ever gone to a movie premiere?
  24. Do you enjoy live theater?
  25. Would you rather go to a musical theater production or a classical music concert?
  26. Do you play a sport?
  27. What was the last sporting event you attended in person?
  28. What’s your guilty pleasure?
  29. What characteristic do you find most appealing in others?
  30. What’s your ideal first date?
  31. What’s your “type”?
  32. Do you fall in love quickly, or does it take time?

Secret Santa Questions for Coworkers

Doing a secret Santa is a popular holiday activity for work. Here are some secret Santa questions for work to help you find a great gift option.

  1. What is your preferred beverage during work hours?
  2. Do you prefer in-person or Zoom meetings?
  3. How do you spend your free time?
  4. Do you grow your plants from seeds or starter plants?
  5. If you could play any instrument, what would it be?
  6. Do you like singing?
  7. What type of concerts do you attend?
  8. Who is your favorite artist?
  9. Which decade produced the most incredible music?
  10. Do you prefer audiobooks, e-readers, or paperbacks?
  11. What’s your favorite book?
  12. Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
  13. Who is your favorite author?
  14. What is your favorite genre?
  15. Do you like to keep physical books on a shelf or borrow them from the library?
  16. Do you subscribe to any magazines?
  17. What is your favorite magazine?
  18. Do you prefer seeing movies at the theater or streaming them at home?
  19. What do you consider the best movie ever made?
  20. Which actor would you watch in anything?
  21. Would you prefer to exercise on your own or with others?
  22. What’s your favorite sport to watch?
  23. Do you have a favorite team?
  24. Would you rather watch American football or football (known as soccer in the US)?
  25. Have you ever dressed up with face paint to support your team at a game or match?
  26. Who is your favorite athlete?
  27. Would you describe yourself as an indoor or outdoor person?
  28. Do you carry a water bottle?
  29. Do you have a favorite mug at work?
  30. Is staying hydrated a challenge for you?
  31. Do you like tracking your habits toward a goal?
  32. Do you prefer paper or electronic trackers?
  33. Do you wear a fitness tracker?
  34. Do you have a step counter?
  35. What is the next trip you have planned?
  36. Do you prefer locations on or off the beaten path?
  37. Do you prefer the mountains or the beach?
  38. Do you enjoy eating local foods?
  39. Would you rather take a road trip to national parks or fly to an exotic island?
  40. What did you miss most about travel during the pandemic?
  41. Do you have a favorite travel planning resource?
  42. Are your vacations planned out or free-flowing?
  43. Do you care who wins the Super Bowl/World Cup/March Madness/US Open/Kentucky Derby?
  44. What’s your favorite non-profit to support?
  45. Do you collect anything?
  46. What is your favorite clothing accessory?

Putting the Bow on the Secret Santa Gifting

The best gifts are the ones given with a joyful spirit and positive intent. Once you have the answers to the questions, put your themes or ideas into a search engine using this template: 

best gifts for [kids/teens/coworkers/adults] who are [sports fans/foodies/travelers/love music], etc.

This should lead to a curated list of shopping suggestions or items you can create specifically for that person.

Do the best you can to find something you think the recipient would like, wrap it nicely, and give it with a smile.

Be gracious. Along with giving a gift, you will also receive one. Even if the present is something you wouldn’t choose, be gracious and assume the best about your giver. 

Read our 21 Questions Game to find the 110+ Best Questions You’ll Ever Ask to amplify your social prowess and ease those family conversations.

How to Deal with Difficult People at Work

Do you have a difficult boss? Colleague? Client? Learn how to transform your difficult relationship.
I’ll show you my science-based approach to building a strong, productive relationship with even the most difficult people.

Get our latest insights and advice delivered to your inbox.

It’s a privilege to be in your inbox. We promise only to send the good stuff.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.