Secret Santa can be a lot of fun, even if you’re frugal-minded like me!

It’s December and for many of us that means it’s time for lots and lots of gift-giving. From your own families and friends to your children’s teachers and even the mailman, there are lots of presents to be bought. Even if you planned ahead and bought cute knick-knacks at the end of last year’s Christmas season, you might still be scrambling for some last-minute ideas that won’t break the bank, particularly if you participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange.

Many work places, including my own, celebrate the end of the year by pulling names from a hat and “sneakily” leaving presents for each other with a set minimum (usually $20). Rather than sabotage your co-worker’s goal to eat healthy this year by loading her desk with a bunch of vending machine snacks, here are five ideas on inexpensive Secret Santa gifts that people will love:

Cheap Secret Santa Gift Ideas

secret santa gifts

Cold Weather Gear

Here in Illinois we can go from 38 degrees on Friday to 70 degrees on Sunday. With the wild changes in the weather, and never really knowing what to expect, cold weather gear is often easily misplaced. Personally, I can never have too many scarves or gloves. For just a couple dollars, it’s easy to pick up a cute scarf or a pair of warm gloves or even a fun Monster hat…


When I first met my partner, he thought I was nuts for always wanting to buy blankets whenever I saw them on deep discount. Now that we have children, though, he sees the light. We have blankets in each of our cars for emergencies, we use blankets on the kids in their car seats, we need extra blankets whenever a child is sick, the list goes on and on. You can never go wrong with a cute throw blanket and you can usually find one for $5 or less (especially if you use this money-saving Christmas trick like I do!)

Easy Secret Santa Gift Ideas

Now I know this blog is all about saving time while also saving money, but hear me out – for just a few dollars you can pick up a mason jar (unless you’re already a jar hoarder like me!) fill it with cocoa mix and marshmallows, throw a pretty ribbon on it, and call it a day. For those of you wanting to really impress, you can also include a mini bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Yum!

red cup with white dots filled with hot cocoa


Photo Frames

Like blankets, I’m a firm believer that you can never have too many photo frames. If you’re Facebook friends with your Secret Santa receiver, you could even go the extra mile and print a picture for them to put in the frame. Even just a frame, though, is always a great gift and you can often find them on clearance at places like Hobby Lobby. It’s important to have frames for those extra special moments…


Cheap Secret Santa Gift Ideas

Try putting together a cheap but thoughtful winter care gift! The only thing worse than chapped lips is chapped skin. Help your Secret Santa combat winter dryness by giving him/her some lip balm and a travel size lotion. You could also include small “spa kit” things like a sugar scrub or microfleece slippers.

A Personal Print Out

One of the most memorable Secret Santa presents I ever received was a Pepsi with a homemade card attached. The card was a Photoshopped David Bowie holding a Pepsi (I’m a *BIG* Labyrinth fan). If you’re an expert in Photoshop, put those skills to use and spend a few minutes making your Secret Santa something personal.

It truly is the thought that counts! I hope you enjoy this holiday season and are able to find some extra moments to enjoy the magic that is this time of year.