As we all know, it’s getting increasingly more difficult to enjoy and celebrate a truly Christ-Centered Christmas with each passing year. Commercialism, Materialism, and Consumerism reign supreme and if you’re like me, it is easy to get blinded by the bling. 

You might know games such as Yankee Swap, White Elephant or Secret Santa, so our family came up with a more Christ-centered Gift exchange game that we play each year and can’t get enough: Secret Jesus. It’s a game that keeps alive the mystery, suspense, and surprise of Christmas gifting and at the same time keeps a Christ-Centered focus.

What is Secret Jesus and How to Play: Game Rules

Secret Jesus rules, in essence, are pretty simple and very close to the traditional Secret Santa where no one knows who is getting whom a gift. It does require some organization with your family and/or friends. Here are the steps for hosting a Secret Jesus game:

  1. Write down each name on a piece of paper. You can also use an online name picker tool to help simplify the process. This a great option when playing with distance players.
    • Here are a few of the good name pickers tools:
      • Elfster: This website asks you to input the date, budget, and participants, and also enables guests to add gift preferences. Once all teammates opt in online, Elfster will match up partners and email details to the gifters.
      • DrawNames: This site’s online generator allows you to reuse lists every year to ensure no repeats in pairings, and also has an option for every participant to choose two names instead of one.
      • Giftster: You can use Giftster as a website or an app. The site functions like a registry, letting participants add a wishlist with store links and mark items as purchased. Giftster draws names from within your private group.
    • These name picking tools simplify the process of generating pairs but there is nothing wrong with the old fashion picking a name from the hat. 🙂
  2. Have everyone write down three Christ-Centered gift suggestions. Just as the wise men gave Jesus three gifts when they visited Him each player will list three gifts…but here is the twist. The players must write down one gift in each of the following categories:
    • 1) Need – This is a gift that will meet one of your needs [This must be a true need and not a want :)]. (Remember that Jesus fulfilled the needs of many while walking the earth and he has fulfilled all of our needs by his sacrifice on the cross for our sins) “Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
    • 2) Spiritual/Faith – This will be a gift to help support, strengthen, and encourage you on your lifelong Faith/Spiritual journey. “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” Luke 2:52
    • 3) Serving/Giving – This will be a gift to help motivate you in the act of generosity. [You can think of ways someone can help you in serving and giving to others and then pick one :)]. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28
    • Example List: 1) Jacket, 2) Bible study guide, 3) Ride to volunteer meetup.
  3. Draw names to randomly assign a Secret Jesus to each player. This is the fun part; reach into the hat and find out whose Christmas you’ll be making more Christ-Centered. The host can also do this solo and email, call, or text the other players their assigned name or the host can use and manage a name picker tool for this process —just make sure you keep things straight with a top secret list of who’s assigned to whom.
  4. Plan a gift exchange party. Pick a day when everyone can get together, on or before Christmas. Make sure each gift is tagged with the recipient’s name, but not the gifter’s! Exchange gifts, goodies, and holiday cheer to last all year.
  5. Guess who drew your name. Guessing who your Secret Jesus is, is the icing on the cake 🙂

We want to share a simple and fun way that we keep Christ the center of our Christmas celebrations and encourage you as you seek to celebrate a Christ-Centered Christmas! 

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