Christmas Name Drawing Ideas & Generator for Easy Gift-Giving

Yule love these ideas on how to have a jolly time drawing names for Christmas gifts!

Updated October 26, 2023
Exchanging Christmas Gifts

I think we can all agree that giving and getting gifts at Christmas is great. But when you've got a large group, all expecting gifts... that could be slightly less great. Fear not! Help is here. Gather up all those names and enter them into a Christmas gift name drawing. Everyone gets a gift, and everyone gets to give. It's an elegant solution.

And we've got an even more elegant solution — a gift exchange generator that pairs people up for gifts. Or you can try one of our fun ideas to pair people up that are a little more hands-on, if that's what you're looking for. 

Christmas Gift Exchange Generator

With this handy widget, your gift pairing is made easier than Santa's reindeer travel. Input all the names in your group, separated by a comma, and click on "create list." The widget will randomly pair up people to evenly distribute a gift partner for each person. Magic that only Christmas can produce! 

Drawing Ideas

While drawing names out of a hat or bowl is simple and effective, there are other ways to draw names for a Christmas gift exchange that can get everyone in the gift-giving mood.

Pin the Tail on the Gift

A fun game that will get the holiday season started right, this method is suitable for exchanges where the participants aren't anonymous.

  1. Using a posterboard placed on the wall, write the name of each person participating in the exchange.
  2. Choose the first person to play. Blindfolded, they should be spun around a couple times and then led to the posterboard.
  3. The person then "pins the tail" (or puts a sticky note) somewhere on the board. Whichever name it lands closest to is the person they buy a gift for!

Gift Tree

Handcrafted christmas balls

If you want to allow participants to choose who they partner with while also getting everyone into the holiday spirit, a gift tree can be a good idea.

  1. Place a Christmas tree in a common area, such as the break room for a workplace or the entryway for a family gathering. On the branches, hang "ornaments" made out of paper featuring one name per ornament. To make things a little smoother and easier for the giver, on the back of the ornament can be items the recipient would enjoy or hobbies they love.
  2. Allow participants to peruse the tree and grab one ornament. Depending on the personality of your group, this could be a mad dash with everyone or a calm perusal one at a time.

Pull Names from a Stocking

Like the ornament gift tree, but with more anonymity, have each particpant write their name on a piece of paper. Then, if you so desire, have each participant write down three things they enjoy doing, shows or movies they enjoy, or any other hobbies and interests — just not specific gifts. 

Place all the names in a stocking and have each person draw a slip one at a time throughout the day or over the course of a few days. 

The Santa Assignment

Dressed as Santa, an elf, reindeer, or even just wearing a holiday hat, enter the room with a bag full of participants' names. This is a variation of pulling names out of a bag that takes the moment to a more festive holly-jolly-deck-the-halls-with-Christmas-spirit level.

  1. Allow each person to choose a name from the bag — this is the person they buy gifts for.
  2. If your goal is to get everyone into the holiday spirit, "Santa" can hand out candy canes or even toss confetti after each selection.

Don't forget the music! 

Go Digital With Name Drawing for Gift Exchanges

Let technology do the drawing and assigning for you. Whether via your phone, tablet, or laptop, these will skip the plotting and get you and your merry group straight to gift and celebrating planning. 

Secret Santa Present


Elfster is an excellent way to plan a Secret Santa gift exchange, even if your group is miles away from one another! Elfster allows you to add a wish list to offer suggestions (or not if you want the gift to come from the heart of the giver). You can easily mail the suggested gifts or have them sent to you to wrap up personally, something I've done several times with friends who are scattered across several states. 

Better yet: no one needs to know who is Santa for whom. So there's no risk of spilling any secrets. You can even assign rules or conditions, such as a boyfriend can't be assigned their girlfriend, or even block individuals from receiving or giving gifts as the same Secret Santa as in the past. 


Much like Elfster, DrawNames.Com allows you to generate wish lists with your participants. You can also ask your Secret Santa questions anonymously to help you to craft the best gift or experience. And the best part is, by using DrawNames year after year, you don't need to manually make conditions each time. You can import previous rules, including having the algorithm not assign the same participants as previous years. 

Have a Jolly Gift Exchange

Getting and giving gifts is fun, but the logistics can be enjoyable, too. With easy-to-use ideas for Christmas gift name drawing, you'll be paired up and on your way to presents in no time. 

Christmas Name Drawing Ideas & Generator for Easy Gift-Giving