Secret Santa Online

Doing a Secret Santa? Draw Names from a virtual hat or read about the history of the Secret Santa tradition.

Start up the Secret Santa generator here.

Or use the UK Version or German Version.

Secret Santa History

How did Secret Santa start in America?

The Dutch settlers brought their tradition of Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) with them to the New World 400 years ago. Santa Claus in America is largely based on Sinterklaas. Both bring gifts to children and adults alike. Since family and friends often exchange gifts at Christmastime, Secret Santa was started to simplify the gift-giving and have a little fun.

How did Secret Santa work before the internet?

A group of people would put their names into a hat and then secretly pick a name out of the hat. They would buy a gift for the person whom they drew.

Why organize your secret santa online?

Now that family members and friends often live far away from each other, the hat process can become tricky. So DrawNames offers a free secret santa generator over the internet.

Each group chooses someone from the group to be their Organizer. The Organizer enters every member’s name and email address, and sends an email with information regarding the celebration. Then DrawNames secretly draws names for everyone and emails them their drawn name.

Each member is able to set up their own wish list and ask questions of their drawn person anonymously. Unlike other services, DrawNames does not require logins and passwords which are often forgotten or misplaced. It’s fast, fun and free!


Santa Claus, Sinterklaas and the Christmas man

In the Netherlands the character of Santa Claus is distinct from Sinterklaas, known instead as de Kerstman (trans. the Christmasman). Although Sinterklaas is the predominant gift-giver in the Netherlands in December (36% of the population give presents on Sinterklaas day), Christmas is used by another fifth of the Dutch population to give presents (21% give presents at Christmas). Some 26% of the Dutch population give presents on both days.

Sinterklaas is traditionally celebrated on the 5th of December, with songs, chocolate letters, pepernoten (ginger nuts), speculaas (spiced biscuits), marzipan and hot chocolate.

A gift, a poem and funny gift wrappings

In the Netherlands the gift is often accompanied by a Sinterklaas rhyme that mocks events in the past year, relating to the person drawn. It’s a good opportunity to legitimately ‘nag’ your family, friends or colleagues in a humorous way, possibly highlighting blunders the person has made in the past year.

The gifts themselves may be just an excuse for the wrapping, which can be quite elaborate. In both the Netherlands and America the gift is given anonymously and the drawn person must guess who their giver is.

Our Dutch Heritage

The secret santa gift exchange is also very popular in the Netherlands and other countries. is the most popular high-tech secret santa generator in the Netherlands.

DrawNames is the English sister website of Once again, the Dutch are bringing their traditions to the States! To add more of a Dutch influence to your holiday celebration, read the traditions below. All you poets, songwriters and rappers - get ready to perform!


Our mission is to simplify your holiday gift-giving and give you more quality time with your family and friends. Our service to you is free.

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