Hanukkah is happening, and Christmas is less than a month away, so you know the holiday season is in full swing. That also means your time for shopping for holiday gifts is getting shorter. If you're a participant in a Secret Santa exchange — among friends, family, or coworkers — it can make your holiday giving easier, or it can make it a lot more awkward.

Secret Santa exchanges are meant to be fun, so don't take it too seriously — but a few ground rules can help to ensure that everyone involved has a good time. Here are 12 tips for making your holiday gift exchanges go smoothly.

1. Pick your names: There are two basic structures for a Secret Santa exchange. In the first, you pick names and then each person buys for their selected recipient. The identity of the gift giver is kept a secret from the recipient until the exchange.

2. Or make it interesting: Alternately, you can do what some call a White Elephant exchange or Yankee Swap. Everyone brings a general gift to the exchange. The first recipient chooses a wrapped gift and opens it. The second recipient can choose a different wrapped gift, or steal the unwrapped gift from the first person. Things continue that way until everyone has an unwrapped gift — for better or for worse!

3. Set a price limit: Capping the amount that can be spent per gift helps to keep the exchanges fair, and prevents anyone from feeling guilty about what they've given or received. Spending $40 when the limit was $20 may seem generous, but it just ends up making others uncomfortable.

And the best presents aren't always the ones that cost the most. "One year, my cousin picked my name, and his family has very little money. But he got me this little snowman made out of fake ice cubes. His wife thought he was NUTS and almost made him return it," says Ky Ivany, who participates in a family exchange each year. "But I opened it, and I had seen these ice cube snowmen before, and I was like, 'I LOVE THESE SNOWMEN! WOOOOOO!' It was great!"

4. Make it serious: When you're picking names, it gives you the chance to really focus on finding one great gift for your recipient. It's a lot more satisfying than scrambling to get a bunch of cheap gifts for a ton of people out of a sense of obligation.

5. Or be silly: With a White Elephant exchange, sometimes joke gifts are part of the fun. Trying NOT to get a particular gift is almost as fun as trying to snag a really good one.

6. Consider regifting: Did you receive a gift that isn't suitable for you, but is something someone else might enjoy? It could be the perfect candidate for your office Secret Santa exchange. Just remember to make sure that the recipient will actually enjoy it and not feel like the target for your clutter unloading. And don't regift something to the person who gave it to you in the first place!

7. Shop sales: If you know you participate in a few gift exchanges during the holidays, keep your eye out for great deals on gift options throughout the year. The influx of Black Friday sales also provides some great options.

8. Lighten the family load: Is it becoming a financial burden to get presents for your growing extended family. Consider putting the names of all the adults in a hat, then having everyone pick one. If your family is full of kids, skip the gifts for adults altogether and have each child pick a cousin's name.

9. Do a little research: Sure, you can get a generic gift, and that works great for a White Elephant exchange. But if you pick someone's name, try to get a gift that fits the recipient. If you don't know the person well, ask some questions. You'll really make someone's day if you get them something that's perfect when they were expecting something like a box of chocolate that cost five cents less than your gift limit.

10. Be gracious: So your Secret Santa didn't do the research, and you got wine when you're a teetotaller, or candy and you're diabetic. Receive the gift graciously, in any case — nobody wins if you're rude, and people will remember your class when it comes to next year's exchange.

11. Remember your audience: If you're doing a Secret Santa exchange among close friends, you can get away with a somewhat off-colour gift that references your shared sense of humour. Similarly, if you pick your closest sibling in your family exchange, feel free to give something that brings to mind a joke or funny story from your history. But if your recipient is your new sister-in-law, keep it clean. And don't give anything in a work exchange that would be otherwise inappropriate in the office — regardless of how close you and your Secret Santa pick may be outside of work.

12. You can bow out — early: If you can't afford to participate, or just don't want to, it is completely acceptable to bow out before names are drawn. "I like picking out a present for a specific person and a Yankee Swap is just not as fun to me," Ivany said. "A couple of extended family gatherings have Yankee Swaps every year and I just opt out."

Looking for some gift ideas for your Secret Santa exchange? Check these out:

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  • Knotted Tea

    Put some texture into your tea. PC Cableknit Tea Gift Set, $10, <a href="http://www.realcanadiansuperstore.ca/LCLOnline/store_selector.jsp;jsessionid=8CAB6C076173E7930A2C62D8648979A8.node22?redirect=&_requestid=573671" target="_blank">available at Real Canadian Superstore</a>

  • Rock Drawings

    Need some inspiration to get drawing? These "rocks" made from soy should do the trick. Crayon Rocks, $7.95 (US), available at Imagine Childhood<a href="http://store.imaginechildhood.com/crayonrocks.aspx" target="_blank"></a>.

  • Salt And Pepper Friends

    Buddy Salt & Pepper Set, $12.95, available at <a href="http://www.linenchest.com/u-buddy-ens-sel-poiv-330282050.html" target="_blank">Linen Chest</a>.

  • "Cute" Cue Cards

    You're Cute: Cards To Break The Ice. $7.95, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Youre-Cute-Cards-Break-Ice/dp/1612431909/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384803625&sr=8-1&keywords=you%27re+cute+cards" target="_blank">Available at Amazon.ca</a>

  • Snap Happy

    The Instagram lover in your life will never stop thanking you. The Selfie Taker, $20, <a href="http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=30291124&parentid=SHOP_STOCKINGSTUFFERS" target="_blank">available at Urban Outfitters</a>

  • Precision Scale

    For those who need to know every gram. Orly Tara Precision Scale, on sale for $9.98, available at <a href="http://www.linenchest.com/precision-scale-chrome-3kg.html" target="_blank">Linen Chest</a>.

  • Cover Up

    Life at Home Plaid and Sherpa Throw, $19, <a href="http://www.realcanadiansuperstore.ca/LCLOnline/store_selector.jsp;jsessionid=8CAB6C076173E7930A2C62D8648979A8.node22?redirect=&_requestid=573671" target="_blank">available at Real Canadian Superstore</a>

  • Pet's Best Friend

    Even your puppy needs something sweet to cuddle up to. Pop Art Dog Pillow, $9.99 available at <a href="http://www.homesense.ca/en/index.asp" target="_blank">HomeSense</a>

  • Style Your Phone

    iPhone and Samsung Phone Cases, $9, <a href="http://www.realcanadiansuperstore.ca/LCLOnline/store_selector.jsp;jsessionid=8CAB6C076173E7930A2C62D8648979A8.node22?redirect=&_requestid=573671" target="_blank">available at Real Canadian Superstore</a>

  • Get Brewing

    Tea for 4 Set, $10, <a href="http://www.stokesstores.com/en/entertaining/tea-for-4-set.html" target="_blank">available at Stokes</a>

  • Warm Hands, Can't Lose

    Winter whites never looked so good. Tommy Hilfiger’s White Wool Mittens, $14.50, <a href="http://www.tommy.com/" target="_blank">available at Tommy Hilfiger</a>

  • Classic Fire Striker

    Your outdoorsy friends may think it's a cheat, but we know there will be others who appreciate the ease of this one. Classic Fire Striker, $15, available at <a href="http://store.imaginechildhood.com/classicfirestriker.aspx" target="_blank">Imagine Childhood</a>.

  • Elephant In The Hallway

    Magical Thinking Elephant Stamp Catch-All Dish, $6, <a href="http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=29078847&parentid=SHOP_STOCKINGSTUFFERS" target="_blank">available at Urban Outfitters</a>

  • Candy Keg

    Because booze isn't everyone's indulgence. Gummy Bear Keg, $12, <a href="http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=30727804&parentid=SHOP_STOCKINGSTUFFERS" target="_blank">available at Urban Outfitters</a>

  • Good Luck Charm

    Forget rabbits' feet — good luck charms now come with a better design. Golden Horseshoe Good Luck, $14, <a href="http://www.artsymodern.com/collections/accessories/products/golden-horseshoe-good-luck-charm" target="_blank">available at Artsy Modern</a>

  • Herb Saver

    Never let that dill go to waste again. Think Kitchen Fresh Herb Saver, $17.99, <a href="http://www.stokesstores.com/en/kitchen-food-prep/think-kitchen-fresh-herb-saver.html" target="_blank">available at Stokes </a>

  • Spy Master

    Sick of your smartphone? Go old-school. World's Smallest Walkie Talkie, Set of 2, $15, <a href="http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=20237590&parentid=SHOP_STOCKINGSTUFFERS" target="_blank">available at Urban Outfitters</a>

  • Hair Hacks

    Fly Away Tamer Headband, $12, <a href="http://shop.lululemon.com/products/clothes-accessories/headwear-headbands/Fly-Away-Tamer-Headband" target="_blank">available at Lululemon </a>

  • Holiday Read

    I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, $14.50, <a href="http://www.amazon.ca/Am-Malala-Stood-Education-Taliban/dp/0316322407/ref=pd_rhf_gw_s_cp_1_XWZX?ie=UTF8&refRID=1MTCC1QVH4GGCK7KXKE4" target="_blank">available on Amazon.ca</a>

  • Hand Blender

    For the smoothie lover in your life, this device will be invaluable. Hamilton Beach Single Serve Blender, $17,<a href="http://www.amazon.ca/Hamilton-Beach-Single-Serve-Blender/dp/B002SB8LUA/ref=sr_1_5?s=kitchen-substore&ie=UTF8&qid=1385406539&sr=1-5" target="_blank"> available at Amazon.ca</a>

  • Serious Chef Knife

    A great knife that also adds some colour into the kitchen. Komachi 8" Chef Knife', $13.95, available at <a href="http://www.linenchest.com/couteau-chef-8-po-komachi.html" target="_blank">Linen Chest</a>.

  • Digital Piggy Bank

    Finally, a truly great excuse to empty out your pockets when you get home. Digital Piggy Bank, $10, <a href="http://www.stokesstores.com/en/home-decor/digital-piggy-bank.html" target="_blank">available at Stokes </a>

  • Playing Games

    Name Plate for a desk, Scrabble Office Decor, made to order, starting at $8, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/158907581/name-plate-for-a-desk-scrabble-office?ref=br_feed_6&br_feed_tlp=gifts" target="_blank">available on Etsy</a>

  • Canadiana Buttons

    Yes, some people do love to wear their patriotism on their sleeves. Oh Canada Buttons, $10, available at <a href="http://assemblyoftext.com/onlineshop/product.php?id_product=122" target="_blank">Assembly of Text</a>

  • Drinking Roulette Game

    Your buddy might appreciate you handing this to him just because his New Year's party. Drinking Roulette Game, $10, <a href="http://www.stokesstores.com/en/home-decor/drinking-roulette-game.html" target="_blank">available at Stokes </a>

  • Sochi 2014!

    Olympic Collection Canada Script Tuque, $20, <a href="http://www.thebay.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/thebay/hbc-/BQ-SOCHI/canada-script-toque-0091-atkc-f1361--24" target="_blank">available at The Bay </a>

  • Glass Bottle

    A simple, but beautiful addition to a hostess' table. Pop-Top Glass Bottle, $12.95, <a href="http://shop.oldfaithfulshop.com/collections/kitchen/products/pop-top-glass-bottle" target="_blank">available at Old Faithful Shop</a>

  • Get Back To Childhood

    Well, childhood with a twist — because those are shot glasses as your game pieces. Snakes and Ladders Game Set, $15, <a href="http://www.stokesstores.com/en/home-decor/snakes-and-ladders-game-set.html" target="_blank">available at Stokes </a>

  • Fancy Geek

    Van Gogh's Starry Night Macbook Decal, $15.03, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/126507754/van-goghs-starry-night-macbookdecal?ref=br_feed_7&br_feed_tlp=gifts" target="_blank">available on Etsy </a>

  • Le Organizer

    Paris 1-2-3 Set of 3 Canisters, $15, <a href="http://www.stokesstores.com/en/kitchen-food-prep/paris-1-2-3-set-of-3-canisters.html" target="_blank">available at Stokes </a>

  • Lunch Kit

    Perfect for parents who are shuttling kids from party to party. Chew Chew Train Place Setting, $20, <a href="http://www.stokesstores.com/en/entertaining/chew-chew-train-place-setting.html" target="_blank">available at Stokes</a>

  • Coffee, Anyone?

    Café Cortado 13 Piece Coffee Set, $19.99, <a href="http://www.stokesstores.com/en/entertaining/cafe-cortado-13-piece-coffee-set.html" target="_blank">available at Stokes </a>

  • Dino-Grow

    Silver T-Rex Dinosaur Planter, $16, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/165361706/silver-t-rex-dinosaur-planter-with-air?ref=br_feed_2&br_feed_tlp=gifts" target="_blank">available on Etsy </a>

  • All The Gang's Together

    Fotobuddy Wall Photo Display, $20, <a href="http://www.umbra.com/ustore/product/motto-think-less-wall-decor.store#" target="_blank">available at Umbra </a>

  • Back In Class

    Remember when these notebooks were a part of your daily life? Canada Journal, $14, <a href="http://assemblyoftext.com/onlineshop/product.php?id_product=99" target="_blank">available at Assembly of Text</a>

  • Golden Coast

    Beautiful gift for someone who loves their wood furniture. Gilded Snowfall Coaster, $8, <a href="http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/home-new2/29348943.jsp?cm_sp=Fluid-_-29348943-_-Large_4" target="_blank">available at Anthropologie</a>

  • Fridge Quotables

    Organized by theme, these magnets will make your grocery list that much more interesting. Refrigerator Magnet Set, $12.89, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/114709223/game-of-thrones-magnets-refrigerator?ref=br_feed_4&br_feed_tlp=gifts" target="_blank">available on Etsy</a>

  • Duck, Duck, Tea!

    Danesco Duck Tea Infuser, $9.95, available at <a href="http://www.linenchest.com/canard-infuseur-a-the-danesco.html" target="_blank">Linen Chest</a>.

  • Cushy Pup

    Pop Art Dog Pillow, $5.99 available at <a href="http://www.homesense.ca/en/index.asp" target="_blank">HomeSense</a>

  • Wall Art

    Motto Think Less Wall Decor, $20, <a href="http://www.umbra.com/ustore/product/motto-think-less-wall-decor.store#" target="_blank">available at Umbra </a>

  • Smooth And Sleek

    Sprout Vase, $12.99 each, available at <a href="http://www.eq3.com/ca/en/p27592/sprout-vase" target="_blank">EQ3</a>

  • Canada Cuteness

    Map of Canada Onesie, $20, <a href="http://assemblyoftext.com/onlineshop/product.php?id_product=82" target="_blank">available at Assembly of Text</a>

  • Science In Your Pocket

    For the budding (or existing) horticulturalist in your life. Pocket Microscope, $12, <a href="http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/house-and-home/gifts/pocket-microscope/5037200006506-item.html?ikwsec=HouseAndHome" target="_blank">available at Chapters Indigo</a>

  • Take Hockey To The Beach

    NHL Montreal Canadiens Beach Towel, $9.88, <a href="http://www.futureshop.ca/en-CA/product/nhl-nhl-montreal-canadiens-beach-towel-56874-twl-bech-mont-red-blue-white-56874-twl-bech-mont/10241808.aspx?path=6bf026c5c898c17676798cf4dacc794fen02" target="_blank">available at Future Shop </a>

  • Drinking And Reading

    Who knew beer could look so very beautiful? Beer Book, $4,99, available at <a href="http://www.homesense.ca/en/index.asp" target="_blank">HomeSense</a>

  • Place Valuables Here

    Paris Jewelry Holder, $5, <a href="http://www.stokesstores.com/en/home-decor/paris-jewelry-holder.html" target="_blank">available at Stokes </a>

  • Ring The Alarm

    The great lines of this clock might — might — make getting up a bit easier. J± Modern Alarm Clock Blue, $19, <a href="http://www.realcanadiansuperstore.ca/LCLOnline/store_selector.jsp;jsessionid=8CAB6C076173E7930A2C62D8648979A8.node22?redirect=&_requestid=573671" target="_blank">available at Real Canadian Superstore</a>

  • Pooch Pouch

    Who can resist that face (when reaching for coins)? Pug Pouch, $9, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/157131758/pug-pug-pouch-dog-pouch-dog-purse-dog?ref=br_feed_6&br_feed_tlp=gifts" target="_blank">available on Etsy </a>

  • Tea Towel

    Mountain Bike Cotton Tea Towel, $17.19, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/92569156/mountain-bike-cotton-tea-towel-or-dish?ref=br_feed_58&br_feed_tlp=gifts" target="_blank">available on Etsy </a>

  • Coke Fiend

    Vintage Bottle Spoon Rest and Wall Hanging, Coca Cola Collection, $19.34, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/115776935/vintage-bottle-spoon-rest-wall-hanging?ref=br_feed_19&br_feed_tlp=gifts" target="_blank">available on Etsy </a>

  • Kitchen Art

    Kitchen Art Radish, $9.94, <a href="http://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/58522878/kitchen-art-radishs-vegtables-side-dish?ref=related-0" target="_blank">available on Etsy </a>