Finding Secret Santa Gifts

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Earlier this month I talked about how you can find the perfect personalised gifts for your friends and family. As a student we often don't do one-on-one gifts but rather play secret santa which honestly is much harder to buy for! Maybe you're not as close friends with the person you have to buy for or your don't even know who'll get the gift in the end. Yet you don't want the gift to reflect that it was hard and that you didn't have a great idea. Here are a few tips on how to find Secret Santa gifts.

There are quite a few different versions of Secret Santa that I've played throughout my life. Depending on the exact group there can even be special rules. I´ll be focusing on the three main versions that I know of and I hope that you can be inspired by my tips even if you're playing a slightly different version of Secret Santa.

Classic Secret Santa

In this version you put everyone's name into a bowl and then each of you draws a name out of the bowl. That's the person you´re going to buy a gifts for. Later during gift giving you have to guess who bought your gift for you.

This is the version that's the closest to the usual gift buying. You can even use my tips on how to find the perfect personalised gift most of the time. However, sometimes - depending on how big your group is and how close you all are - you draw a person that you don't really know that well. That makes personalised gifts a lot harder!

Inform yourself about the person: If you want to get them a personalised gift nonetheless it´s helpful to find out more about the person. This could be done by stalking their social media or asking other people in the group without raising suspicion. You don´t have to go down the stalking rabbit hole too far though as you really only need like one or two ideas for your gift.

Make it seem personal: Often you don't need to know a lot about person to get them a gift that seems really personal. If you know anything about the person (e.g. they often wear flawless makeup - you really only have to see the person for that!) you can get them something related to this (e.g. a makeup brush set). Depending on the amount of money you could even get the gift engraved to give it the ultimate personal touch. Then comes the trick: Write a nice card explaining why you thought this gift would be perfect for them. Despite not knowing much about the person you've now made it seem like you know them really well and put a ton of thought into the gift.

Gift Vouchers: One thing almost everyone likes is food. Foodbaskets are an option but often the things in there won't be finished. Opt for a voucher for a nice restaurant or a chic café instead. I know that I love to be gifted the chance to stuff my face with great food! Depending on how well you actually know them you could pick a specific restaurant that you know they love or find something that has an option for everything. Maybe even suggest that you could go together (if that will actually happen is written in the stars) but at least you're giving them the option and you're showing that you want to spend more time with them.

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Secret Secret Santa

This is possibly the easiest Secret Santa version to buy for. Instead of drawing a specific name everyone in the group gets one gift in your budget that could be suitable for anyone in the group. When you exchange gifts you can either play for the gifts or choose one at random for each person.

As you don't have a specific person to buy for you can stay really general with your gift ideas and nobody will feel disappointed because they haven't gotten a super personalised gift. There are really no general rules or tips to give towards this version. I´d definitely suggest looking at stocking filler gift guides for this! I've had some more ideas to give you a good start though.

Beauty Products: In an all female group this is the easiest option. I don't know a single girl who wouldn't appreciate a beauty gift. It doesn't even have to be a makeup product as more girls are probably drawn towards nail care, skincare of shower/bath products than makeup. Lush is obviously a great shop for this. For one, many of their products actually fit into the price range of Secret Santa. Plus, their products always feel high-end and special. Also, even if there are men mixed into the group I find many Lush products can be used by both genders - many of the scents are very gender neutral!

Kitchen Appliances: I´d bet that nobody has every little kitchen tool there is. While the appreciation from women for these might be obvious most men also like their gimmicks and tools - especially if they're related to meat. As most people participating in Secret Santa will probably have a working kitchen I wouldn't go with the obvious choicee but rather fun tools. In Germany we have this thing called Eierschalensollbruchstellenverursacher (apparently it translates to punch-bell egg cracker; German is such an amazing language!) which basically just creates a slight crack in your cooked egg so that you can break it easier. Nobody actually buys themselves tools like this but really loves being gifted them.

Your Common Feature: Chances are that your Secret Santa group is based on some similarity between all of you. This could be something as simple as being in the same family or studying the same subject. You could easily theme your present around this feature as this makes sure your gift would absolutely fit everyone. A different version of this is using pictures of your group and making a gift using those. That way you're targeting everyone in the group and still have it very personal. Your common feature there would be your experiences together.

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Crappy Secret Santa

Oh, the most fun version of Secret Santa! It´s basically Secret Secret Santa but with the twist that you only buy really kitschy, crappy gifts that nobody actually wants. You then play for the gifts (usually with a dice) and you begin kind of fighting over the gifts despite knowing that you don't actually want them.

There's really nothing that could go wrong in this game but somehow it´s also the hardest game to buy for. I think it´s because we're really not used to buying crappy gifts. We might laugh at them and point them out but going up to the cashier with them feels weird. Plus, how do you know there's not an even crappier gift out there?! Once you get over the initial hesitation it´s pretty amazing to let go of your usual standards for gifts though!

Christmas Market: Most christmas markets are the epitome of kitsch. Just look at the decorations there! They look amazing but truthfully they're super kitschy and nothing anyone would want. Yet, they make the atmosphere of the Christmas market so special. Let your local (or nearest) Christmas Market inspire you with its kitsch!

Kids Toys: The most amazing crappy Secret Santa gifts are definitely old/bad/trashy kids toys (I'm not talking high-end toys like Playmobil, Lego, Barbie, etc.). These have absolutely no use for adults but they're so much fun! They're the highlight of the gift exchange because everyone wants to look at them or try them out despite them being really crappy. You could even try to get something christmas themed too - those might be extra useless! Plus, who doesn't like a reason to go into toy shops?!

Shop Your Stash: You probably already have some amazing crappy gifts lying around your house (or your parents´ house). Atticks and basements are the most amazing resource as we put all the stuff we don't need anymore there and then forget it exists. Go on an adventure through old memories to find the perfectly nostalgic but super crappy gift. There are even Crappy Secret Santa versions that are only played with already-owned gifts. If you're playing with a budged though you could go all out on the packaging or buy some small stocking fillers that make it look like you've got the most amazing gift in there!

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Secret Santa is one of my favourite ways to exchange gifts in a bigger group. Mainly because you exchange a bigger great gift instead of many little ones. Plus, if you all don't have much money lying around it´s great way to appreciate each others friendship without going bankrupt. Secret Santa also always feels more like an event than a usual hang out. The whole group will probably be there and you could get some super yummy food and spent some quality time together! That's what Christmas is mostly about: Spending time with the people you love and showing them your support and love!

Which Secret Santa versions have you played so far? Which has been your favourite Secret Santa gift?

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