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Secret Santa Gift Ideas

Secret Santa - Personalised Gifts

If you've played Secret Santa before, you know how it works… it involves a group of people and they are assigned another person from the group for whom they have to buy a gift…. But anonymously. – hence the name Secret Santa as the people have no idea (or should have no idea unless others spill the beans!) who their "Secret Santa" is.

Sometimes, people will draw names out of a hat to determine who they need to buy a gift for, although nowadays there are many computer generated programmes that does this for you.

In some versions of the game, people try to guess who their secret Santa is after they've opened their gift.  Others don’t – the idea is to keep it a secret forever, but many people like to spoil that and give clues!

But do you know the story behind Secret Santa?

It’s actually not that old and was started in 1979 by a millionaire philanthropist called Larry Dean Stewart.

He was known for donating money to people on the streets each December. Born in 1948, this American entrepreneur handed out cash to people in need every Christmas.

It all began on a cold day in the December of 1979. Larry was hunched over a cup of coffee in a restaurant, despondent because he had been fired from his job. He was depressed because it was the second time in a row that he had been fired just before Christmas. But he looked around and noticed other people and their misery. He noticed a waitress in a thin jacket in the drive-in, and thought how difficult it must be for her to work, earning only a pittance, during freezing cold winters.

He then decided to wander the streets donating to the poor and needy each December. Over 26 years he donated nearly 1.3 million dollars, and got himself a cult following once he revealed himself to be ‘Secret Santa’.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attack he donated a total of 25,000 dollars to the residents of New York.   Sadly, in 2007 he died of oesophageal cancer at the age of just 58. But he continues to live on, known for his generosity and philanthropy.

Larry has inspired millions of people all over the world to carry out random acts of kindness, making many aware of the social impact it can have.

So back to today – Secret Santa is often used in offices or at home when a lot of people are gathering together (maybe not this year!).  It makes a tough task a lot easier and more affordable if you only have to buy for one person - and sometimes it’s great but sometimes it’s awful!  Have you ever drawn the name of the only person you don’t have a clue what to give to?   Not that chocolates or a pair of socks aren’t appreciated by just about everyone but sometimes something a little more personal is more special.

That’s why many Secret Santas now ask you to anonymously let the Santas know what you’d like – it does make life so much easier!  So Secret Santas lists are often drawn up.

Usually the amount spent on gifts will be kept to below £5 or £10 to keep the experience fun and affordable.  That takes the headache out of buying too as there’s a limit to what can be bought.

When it comes to what to buy that can be tricky!  If you’re looking for something other than the usual socks, scarves, chocolates, bottle of wine or toiletries there are plenty of personal gifts on the market.

You’d be surprised how popular Wooden Spoons are! Yes it does sound strange but…. They are a cheap, good value present and for many people they are useful too!  And if you get them engraved they are extra special – Grandma makes the best cakes, Dad - the world’s best cook, Happy Christmas  Mummy, Star Baker – the list is absolutely endless as you create your own message… and you can have a little picture on there too.

Then there are the Mug Shots – sticky photo labels that fit perfectly onto the bottom of a mug.  A perfect fun present for anyone who has a favourite mug and doesn’t like to share it!

Personalised baubles are always a welcome addition to the Christmas tree.  Some people buy a new one every year!  You can have the date engraved to add to the collection, one name or the names of all the family.  A reminder of the 2020 Christmas – lockdown, Covid, social distancing – all new terms that have been added to the dictionary and very much used -  what a year it’s been!

Christmas Eve Boxes are generally more for children but they can be perfect for adults too.  Though often a little more pricey than the cost of a Secret Santa present, they are affordable and it depends on the limits set.  You can even fill them goodies if the Secret Santa allow it – Port, cheese, wine, nibbles, chocolates – and of course, the customary Christmas socks!