Secret Santa on a student budget

It’s always nice to have something under the tree, but present buying can soon total up and become expensive. If you normally buy for friends, secret Santa is a way to make Christmas more affordable and much more fun. You have a budget to stick to and only have to buy one present.* The gift giving is secret so it is up to the receiver to guess who picked their name out of the hat, making it an enjoyable experience.

At my work we do an office wide secret Santa, regardless of how not everyone knows everyone as well as others do. This may seem problematic, but the genius behind the idea decided that everyone should write 2 or 3 gifts they would like to receive down on a slip of paper with their name on. The suggestion slips will then be folded and drawn out of a hat, ensuring that everyone will be able to get inspiration to get their chosen one something perfect.

Getting the balance between something thoughtful and expensive is difficult, but when a £10 spend limit is in place it has to be done.

Secret Santa suggestions:

It might be a good idea to follow suit, and ask your friends or colleagues to write down some ideas, but if it’s too late, here are my suggestions!

Notice that they have ran out of their favourite thing? That’s your gift sorted, just re-purchase the item. Maybe they mentioned something in passing about something they want? Simple, just buy that! With secret Santa, it’s an opportunity to get someone something that they want, but do not necessarily want to pay for themselves, or cannot justify buying.

Yankee Candle

Who doesn’t love a candle, especially one with their favourite scent? Yankee candles are known for their scents and ability to make even the largest of rooms smell lovely. There’s an array to choose from, my favourite being vanilla cupcake, or even mulled wine. A small sized candle can cost £6-8 and last months. For the price, it is worth getting one of these over a normal candle.

Quirky lamp

Whether it be a lava lamp, or a volcano desk lamp, it will be a welcome addition to anyone’s desk. It will add ambience to the entire room, act as a night light and can even be therapeutic to watch.

Personalised mug/glass/hip flask

It can be so cheap to have things customised or engraved, and doing so will make your gift seem so much more personal. If they love tea, you can put their favourite joke or photo on a mug, if they always drink from the same glass, give them one with their name on it, and if they are trying to save money by not going to the pub, buy them a hip flask with a list of ways not to get caught on it.

Small speaker

My partner received a portable speaker from his secret Santa last year, and he uses it daily. It is so convenient to plug into his laptop or phone to make the volume go louder when watching films, TV programmes or even YouTube videos. You can get them from places like MenKind or Amazon, and I can guarantee that whoever you get it for will be happy to receive it.

Selfie stick/light

They may be too embarrassed to buy one themselves, but it is okay if it is a gift! My selfie stick was, and so it would be rude not to use it at any given opportunity. People may moan, but when you want to fit everyone into that group ocver photo, they are so practical.


Slippers/cosy socks

If you know their size, men and women are always on the hunt for new slippers so they can leave their old ones by the door to use to go to the bin. They have a quick turnover and break easily, so it is always good to have a back up, especially if the back up pair is lovely and cosy. Do not underestimate the joy people can get from having toasty feet.

Best purchase #slippers #boots #fluffy #cosy #cute #pink #bow #new

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Wine/beer and chocolates

It may seem like a generic gift idea, but that is only because you cannot go wrong with it – unless the person you’re buying for is allergic/intolerent anyway. You can go to a supermarket rather than trailing around a big shopping centre, so it is ideal if you’ve left finding a present until the last minute (naughty).

Drinking games

This is a typical suggestion for any student prone to going on nights out and having pre-drinks prior to leaving. At out university house we have a pack of cards, shot roulette, a dart board shot game, cards against humanity, tiddly drinks and an array of other games. You can never have too many!

I hope you’ve got some inspiration from my list and that you manage to find what you are looking for this Christmas!

*Note: If you are one of my housemates or work colleagues, your secret Santa present is not on this list so do not try to work out what I may or may not bought for you.


Let me know if there is anything else you think I should add, or if you ended up choosing one of these gift ideas – I’d love to hear how your secret Santa goes.

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