10 secret Santa ideas that will suit everybody

Calum Grewar, Content Writer · 14 Dec

Secret Santa, the Christmas past time we all love to hate. Deep down, you're hoping for a good present, and there are some gifts that will suit everybody. Here are ten of them.

Pleasing everybody is almost impossible. Things that suit everybody are usually utterly worthless or life-changingly excellent. Secret Santa gifts are no different.

A coaster might suit everyone, but it’s unlikely to make you rethink life. However, there are some secret Santa gift ideas that approach this status, most of which don’t cost a snowman’s arm or an elf’s leg.

Christmas is a time of giving, so they tell us. However, many of us are more than happy to mainly receive over the festive period. If we’re lucky, a cheeky Christmas bonus might pop up in our accounts, or we’ll receive some nice gifts from friends and family.

If you’re really lucky, you might get some chilblains and just a minor flu. A £5 secret Santa, therefore, is often way down on the list of what people look forward to receiving - let’s change that.

As you’ll most likely know, it can be surprisingly tricky to pick a gift on a low budget for someone who could be a kangaroo for all you know. Believe it or not, it can be even harder picking a secret Santa gift for under £5 for your best office mate without looking like you don't care.

kangaroo chilling

Welcome to the perilous world of office secret Santa politics. So, before we begin our list of great ideas that will suit everybody, there is some general housekeeping when it comes to secret Santa that we’ve been dying to share. Here we are with the secret Santa dos and don’ts.

Do: spend money

It sounds obvious, but homemade shouldn’t mean cheap. Do you really want to appear stingy around this time of giving?

Don't: spend more than the budget.

Although Ernest may really want the new Anderson. Paak vinyl, it’s lofty £20 asking price will make you look like a show-off and diminish others’ gifts.

Do: your research.

Before you give Isla a peanut brittle it’d be good to know if she’s allergic. Manslaughter is a lot harder to deal with than a bit of recon.

santa doing recon

DON’T: be late.

Everyone will eventually find out that it was you that left your gift too late. This either delays everyone’s fun or singles out the one person you were supposed to make feel special. An obvious no-no.

DO: know your audience.

Joke gifts are a great way to score you some legend-points with the staff. However, getting the tone right is easier said than done.

For example, if Sharon likes a wee drink, getting her a bottle-size wine glass is a classic. However, if she maybe likes a bit too much of a drink and suddenly that glass looks crude and offensive. 

novelty wine glass next to normal

This last point is important as some people can take offense to stuff you may think is harmless. The more risqué gifts might amuse you, but they can also make others feel uncomfortable. For example, buying the new female intern a pair of pink furry handcuffs might make you chuckle, but it is highly unadvised.

These are the main ways to maximise the secret Santa experience. Everyone gets excited seeing all the gifts piled up. Following these steps ensures that your hands aren’t too clammy to open your own gift, which is the most important part, after all.

1. A second-hand novel.

You can find some really special editions of your favourite books for pennies in lovely used bookshops. These are a good way to show your secret Santa that you pay attention to their interests. It’s also useful, better for the environment than buying plastic, and supports a local bookshop. What’s not to love?

second hand novel

2. A plant

If you shop around, seeds, compost, and a non-hideous pot are all available for under £10, under £5 if you’re smart. This represents a gift that will grow as much your friendship will once you’ve given it to your secret Santa. It also represents a less plasticky waste of time and money. Who doesn’t want responsibility for Christmas?

3. Make something

Not everyone has a skill. And few people have the exact same skills. So if you can make a mean set of cookies, fire away. Or, caricaturing is more your thing, who doesn’t like to see themselves with a massive nose and lips? If you’re creative and thoughtful about it, these gifts can be the most appreciated of all.

Arts and crafts tool

4. Something useful

As well as contributing to a more sustainable Christmas, you’re guaranteeing that you’ll present will be remembered by the recipient. Bamboo toothbrushes are pretty trendy, as is a bog standard sports direct mug. If you’re not sure, it’s always good to avoid those presents that are destined for the skip before they’ve even been seen.

5. Wine

Unless they don’t drink, wine is one of the safer bets. Secret Santa ideas for £10 don’t really get any better. A £9.99 bottle of cold-climate chardonnay is a welcome addition to anyone’s Christmas drinks cabinet. And if they don’t like wine, they can cook with it or give it as another gift. Perfect.

6. Food

Giving the gift of food represents a great chance to personalise your gift, make a joke, and keep it useful. If Susie only eats granola in office, a high-end granola would bring the ruckus in the staff room when it’s opened.

Chances are, she’d also really enjoy those toasted oaty clusters. 

As a general rule, anything day-to-day but slightly more premium than they’d otherwise buy is a good start.

7. A mug

As depressing as it may seem, these are good gifts. If you want to lie low this year, perhaps your exploits at last year’s Christmas party still haven’t been forgotten, a useful wee mug never goes unappreciated. The UK has tea on drip so you know it’ll get used. Just please oh please not one of those tiny handled mugs with no space for your fingers.

small handled coffee mug

8. Coffee gift card

A truth universally acknowledged is that office employees run on coffee. It can’t be any other way. So five or ten pounds on a gift card to the nearby cafe is a safe but appreciated gesture. Who knows, maybe you’ll boost their productivity in the meantime.

9. Coffee keep-cup

Closely related to no. 8, a keep cup is a must-have for many reasons. Those glass ones are pretty stylish, those bamboo ones are pretty eco-friendly, and they all come in handy. If they don’t have one already, they should be ashamed, so help them out and get them one. You can also use Perkbox’s employee benefits platform to fill these up for free.

10. A spa-day

If your recipient is the type to stress and prone to touches of anxiety, why not give them something relaxing? A well-chosen Spa can not only be a brilliant and much-needed excuse for a colleague to relax but it doesn't have break the bank either. Lots of Turkish baths or more humble Spas can be reasonably priced.

These secret Santa gift ideas are fairly fool-proof. They can be used in cases where the festive spirit has gone. For example, we’ve heard reports of workplaces that have stopped picking names out of the hat.

Instead, everyone brings in a gift and people pick at random. This is just a certain way to ensure that no one gets a heartfelt present that is any value to them.

So, if you are unfortunate enough to work in this kind of establishment, we recommend any of the above. And, if you don’t know your secret Santa that well and are stuck for ideas, firing at random on any of the ten (perhaps not no. 10) will guarantee an average-to-well received present. And that’s all that anyone can ask for really.

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