Present / Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

The student guide to a successful secret Santa

It is nearly that time of the year again. Slowly but surely, Christmas songs are making their way back onto the scene. Supermarkets are already filled with aisles of Christmas goodies waiting. After weeks of intense planning, your friendship group has just organised the annual secret Santa.

Many of us partake in some form of secret Santa every year, whether it be with friends, colleagues, flatmates or pretty much any other group. Here is the low-down on how to be the best secret Santa of them all this year.

Secret Santa often also has a small budget, so creativity is key

The first step in buying a successful secret Santa is to judge the vibe of the person for whom you are buying a present. Inside jokes, funny gifts, or something thoughtful work well for secret Santa. However, keep in mind that secret Santa gifts are often exchanged with a large group of people, in front of one another. Are they going to appreciate and laugh along with a joke present, or are they going to feel embarrassed?

Secret Santa often also has a small budget, so creativity is key. Personal gifts do not require a lot of money. I have seen my friends draw on t-shirts, crochet small items, and make novelty gifts out of all sorts of things, such as a joke from a few years ago with Nintendo written on a light switch. You can combine novelty-gifts with a bar of their favourite chocolate or a cheap stocking-filler type gift.

Anything remotely personal always feels good to open as a secret Santa present

If you aren’t quite close enough to have any inside jokes, then there are other ways to get personal. Do they have any pets? Do they have any hobbies? Is there something that they have talked about a lot that you have picked up on? Do they drink copious amounts of cheap Aldi wine that you can buy for them? Anything remotely personal always feels good to open as a secret Santa present.

So, where can I buy these types of gifts? Let’s begin with online stores. The first place I would suggest is Etsy. Shopping here is a great way to support small businesses who rely heavily on this type of income, especially during lockdown. You can find some absolute gems, especially when it comes to jewellery, with a wide price range to suit any budget. There is currently also a Christmas sale featuring a large variety of different gifts.

Poundland is one of the obvious options as you can buy a lot within a small budget

Other options that sell lots of cute gifts are Paperchase and Oliver Bonas. Although a lot of the things from these stores would be better for a budget of over £10, you can find a lot of cheaper gifts too. I love both of these stores for finding presents as everything is generally just pretty and can work well if you don’t know the person very well but want to give a great gift. Websites such as Not On The High Street have a good range of personalised gifts, although sometimes with these types of shops you need to filter through the cringe to find something.

Some in-person shops have good options too. Poundland is one of the obvious options as you can buy a lot within a small budget. You can find all sorts of random things in there, and it is always a good shout to find that last filler gift. One idea is to buy five things for £5 or ten for £10 as I know lots of people have done in the past. Tesco is another option, purely for the fact that they frequently sell different cute plant pots with succulents and flowers for only £2, such as the little pumpkin pot and fox that are currently on my shelves.

The most important thing to remember with secret Santa is not to take it too seriously

Finally, we have the best option of all – Flying Tiger. As much as I wish it had an online store, it sadly doesn’t. Flying Tiger is full of super cheap gift ideas, from Christmas themed items to cute sets of fairy lights, kitchenware, notebooks and pens, and random items that seem like necessities when you pick them up. It is the perfect place to find secret Santa-style gifts and will hopefully reopen in December after the current lockdown.

The most important thing to remember with secret Santa is not to take it too seriously. That is why novelty gifts, inside jokes, and that element of personalisation, work well. Have fun with it and have a Merry Christmas.

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