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    • MSE Molly
    • By MSE Molly 21st Nov 19, 2:56 PM
    • 59Posts
    • 115Thanks
    MSE Molly
    How do you make your Secret Santa gift look so much more?
    • #1
    • 21st Nov 19, 2:56 PM
    How do you make your Secret Santa gift look so much more? 21st Nov 19 at 2:56 PM
    It divides offices around the country every December. Yes, it's the dreaded Secret Santa.

    Bob stands there rubbing his hands with glee because his best mate Mo got him in the draw, while poor Kim has no idea who Sarah is and has to discreetly find out from the rest of her team what she likes...*

    But that's not where it ends, oh no.

    Someone from marketing ends up crying in the loos because they were given an unscented candle YET AGAIN, while the finance team have all told each other who they've got despite the explicitly clear rules on the email marked 'high importance' NOT to do so - but it doesn't matter, because they've all swapped around anyway so they get the best gifts.**

    What's more, to make things harder, there's a budget! And while here at MSE we LOVE budgeting all year round, sometimes, even for the best MoneySavers, that £1 or even £5 limit can feel restricting and just a waste when you don't know where to start.

    But that's where you come in Forumites. Because we can always rely on your knowledge and help!

    We want you to share your most creative Secret Santa gifts, for the least amount of money.

    Laziness is not allowed! We want you to think outside the box - we're talking homemade, funny and genuinely thoughtful presents for the smallest number of pennies possible.

    How do you make your money go further, to make it a gift others will be envious of?

    We can't wait to hear your suggestions!

    - MSE Molly

    *No employees named Bob, Mo, Kim or Sarah were harmed in the making of this thread.
    **All scenarios portrayed in this forum thread are entirely fictitious and by no means representative of any Secret Santa debacles that may have happened at MSE Towers.

    This Forum tip was included in's weekly email!
    If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply.
    Last edited by MSE Molly; 04-12-2019 at 10:39 AM.

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Page 2
    • Pollycat
    • By Pollycat 24th Nov 19, 10:37 PM
    • 24,437 Posts
    • 65,725 Thanks
    This wasn't actually a Secret Santa. This was a proper gift.
    Originally posted by Owain Moneysaver
    Not sure how that fits into the 'Secret Santa' thread.
    So someone bought you a £1 gift?
    So how much did you spend on their gift?
    • Pollycat
    • By Pollycat 26th Nov 19, 11:50 AM
    • 24,437 Posts
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    I have a default gift of a nice mug with chocolates in.

    The budget steers where I get the chocolate & I do research the recipient's chocolate related preferences/prejudices/anti-palm-oil/type 1 diabetes etc, but the nice mugs are all charity shop finds of a reputable & recognized make, like Denby or Cath Kidson.

    I can then 'bling' it with tissue or cellophane (cadged off an Interflora florist, they always have cellophane that's gone out of requirements) or just wrap in in mysterious copier paper...
    Originally posted by DigForVictory
    I think this is a really nice idea.
    Thoughtful and useful.

    I have a Cath Kidston china mug bought for £1.00 from a charity shop that's a bit too big for me.
    My friend likes her coffee in a big china mug, I'll look out for some good quality dark chocolate and gift it to her.
    Not Secret Santa though.
    • Owain Moneysaver
    • By Owain Moneysaver 26th Nov 19, 2:44 PM
    • 10,496 Posts
    • 13,546 Thanks
    Owain Moneysaver
    Not sure how that fits into the 'Secret Santa' thread.
    So someone bought you a £1 gift?
    So how much did you spend on their gift?
    Originally posted by Pollycat
    Probably about £10. But that's not the point. My (to them) gift was chosen with care and thought, theirs (to me) was firmly in the 'token' camp.
    A kind word lasts a minute, a skelped erse is sair for a day.
    • Pollycat
    • By Pollycat 26th Nov 19, 2:51 PM
    • 24,437 Posts
    • 65,725 Thanks
    Probably about £10. But that's not the point. My (to them) gift was chosen with care and thought, theirs (to me) was firmly in the 'token' camp.
    Originally posted by Owain Moneysaver
    I agree it's not the point.
    As I said up-thread:
    That's my point.

    If you can't commit to buying something other than 5 items of tat from Poundland, then opt out.
    And maybe this waste of time and money will die a death.
    Originally posted by Pollycat
    If you're going to buy a 'token' gift, do the decent thing and opt out.
    • spadoosh
    • By spadoosh 26th Nov 19, 3:05 PM
    • 8,013 Posts
    • 11,952 Thanks
    My college friend has to go down as giving one of the best secret santa presents in the history of secret santa. Bear in mind hes about as socially awkward as you can imagine someone.

    Worked at a golf club, £5 limit.

    He spent £5 on a goldfish and a vessel to hold it. Handed it over at the xmas meal and the poor girl then had to carry it round with her for the rest of her works do night out. Apparently the clubs let her check it in the cloak room. Although that makes me think she probably spent more storing it that night than he did on the present.

    I just cant picture a 19 year old girls face receiving a goldfish as a secret santa and then having to carry it around town with her.
    Don't be angry!
    • firebubble
    • By firebubble 27th Nov 19, 3:10 PM
    • 105 Posts
    • 890 Thanks
    If it's for work colleagues, successes have included: new work mug with their name on it so it doesn't get borrowed, a female colleague who was always cold in the office received a half-size hot water bottle which she was delighted with, or whatever the spend is in scratchcards - this always goes down well.

    Secret Santas I have witnessed which were disasters: pen1 s bottle opener (nearly resulted in the female giver being sacked), naked lady pens or mugs (each time, everyone was offended including the receiver who was publicly embarrassed), swear jar (particularly as it was the second time the recipient received one), 'novelty' chocolate pen1 s (outed gay colleague, who was rightly very upset), 'novelty' chocolate breasts (given to the boss because he was 'a tlt', but he took offence because his wife was black and thought it had rascist intent).
    • kboss2010
    • By kboss2010 2nd Dec 19, 9:55 PM
    • 1,176 Posts
    • 9,477 Thanks
    I just bought an Aztec print kimono for a colleague from a website called Shein for £5.50 & a pack of rope bracelets for £3.50. Our budget was £10 so I’m pleased! I just hope the size is ok when it arrives.

    She’s a total hippy so I’m hoping she’ll like it! If nothing else, her kids might like the bracelets.
    "I want to be a glow worm, A glow worm's never glum
    'Coz how can you be grumpy, when the sun shines out your bum?" ~ Dr A. Tapping

    I'm finding my way back to sanity again... but I don't really know what I'm gonna do when I get there
    ~ Lifehouse
    • Mischiefmanaged
    • By Mischiefmanaged 3rd Dec 19, 8:24 PM
    • 22 Posts
    • 214 Thanks
    I bought my work mate a personalised wooden chopping board (e.g. Sarah's Kitchen). She loves cooking and recently started a baking business and the chopping board is placed behind her Instagram pics. I say that's a success.

    For our work one we write our name with three likes and 3 dislikes. The dislike list is the most helpful x
    • Savvy_Sue
    • By Savvy_Sue 3rd Dec 19, 8:43 PM
    • 40,393 Posts
    • 37,873 Thanks
    What else do you get for a fiver for someone you barely know and possibly don't like?
    Originally posted by Owain Moneysaver
    This year I've managed a very nice mug, bought in the sale in a very 'arty-crafty' local shop. I'm hoping it will stop people borrowing MY mugs, which are Wilkos cheapies, but very nice.

    However, we don't do Secret Santa any more, we do Bad Santa, which is a lot more fun.

    You buy your gift. One person chooses any gift from the pile. The next person may either 'steal' their gift, or choose a new gift. And so on. As you go on round the circle, there is a wider range of opened gifts to choose from. You keep going until everyone has a gift (may have to go round the circle a couple of times to achieve this!). To keep it sane, no gift may be stolen more than twice.

    Some of last year's gifts are in pride of place on my colleagues' desks! Bone china cup and saucer, novelty sellotape dispenser ...
    Still knitting!
    Completed: TWO adult cardigans, 3 baby jumpers, 3 shawls, 1 sweat band, 3 pairs baby bootees, 2 sets of handwarmers, 1 Wise Man Knitivity figure + 1 sheep, 2 pairs socks, 3 balaclavas, multiple hats and poppies, 3 peony flowers, 4 butterflies ...
    Current projects: pink balaclava (for myself), seaman's hat, about to start another cardigan!
    • skintscot
    • By skintscot 3rd Dec 19, 9:53 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 33 Thanks
    crafty colleagues
    My colleagues are quite a creative bunch so we've had homemade sweets, cakes, biscuits, soap, lip balms, plant cuttings in decorated pots etc. All dressed up by fancy wrapping.
    If you don't want to make anything, a nice mug for the office or fancy tea, coffee, hot chocolate depending on what they drink.
    if i had known then what i know now
    • Teacher2
    • By Teacher2 3rd Dec 19, 10:18 PM
    • 360 Posts
    • 2,694 Thanks
    Don’t buy tat. Buy the biggest bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk you can for the money.
    • ginger chocolate
    • By ginger chocolate 4th Dec 19, 12:13 PM
    • 61 Posts
    • 73 Thanks
    ginger chocolate
    Don’t buy tat. Buy the biggest bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk you can for the money.
    But check that they aren't vegan/diabetic/allergic/on a diet/hate chocolate first...

    It's not so hard to do a bit of research into what someone might like even if you barely know them. Ideas:
    - look at what they wear every day, do they have a preferred "colour scheme"? If so - a pair of gloves, a scarf, a tie in those colours is a safe--ish plan (I almost always do this)
    - Have a nose at their desk. Is there hand cream there? A plant? Photos of pets? A calendar? Travel photos? A cafetiere? herbal teabags? This can be a good insight into interests and preferred brands.
    - start a conversation about Christmas food and drink. You'll soon find out if someone has anything they really love or really hate (and you get a chance to shoehorn in your own preferences!)
    - However, if no evidence to contrary assume everyone is vegan, diabetic,gluten free, allergic to nuts and teetotal. It saves you wasting money on something someone can't enjoy.
    - houseplants or seeds and a nice pot are a good present for a wide range of people. Herbs and chilli plants are good for keen cooks. Cacti make pretty cool desk buddies for all genders.
    - nice notebooks and stationery are a safe bet. Everyone needs a pen and paper at some point, so why not give them a nice one?
    - Unless you know for certain someone loves a particular brand, scent or product, avoid toiletries. Most people are quite fussy about what they put on their skin!
    - Unless you know the person really well and are sure they'll find it hilarious, forget "joke" presents. They are almost always embarrassing and just end up as landfill.

    The best secret santa I ever got was a vegan recipe book. Thoughtful and useful.
    Last edited by ginger chocolate; 04-12-2019 at 2:43 PM.
    • Qtipps44
    • By Qtipps44 4th Dec 19, 9:31 PM
    • 7 Posts
    • 20 Thanks
    My work usually do a secret santa but this year are donating to the local food bank instead.

    Wonderful idea.
    • od244051
    • By od244051 5th Dec 19, 2:38 PM
    • 139 Posts
    • 212 Thanks
    My work's SS is £10. Most years, I have been given alcohol. The worst one I had was a Boots gift card, It was wrapped inside a box.

    Giving gift cards is a no no for secret santa. Esp if you work for a retailer and the gc is for your work. Yes, your spending power has increased but its still no.

    One year, I selected one of my Asian colleagues and I was hopeless in what to get. Another Asian colleague - not doing secret santa said her family love sweet things. Got a chocolate chip panettone, biscuits and some chocolates. Some of the things I bought were on Iceland's deals.
    • sillyvixen
    • By sillyvixen 9th Dec 19, 11:51 PM
    • 3,355 Posts
    • 5,457 Thanks
    Several years ago we rolled a dice for our secret santa budget and it landed on 1 meaning a £1 budget. All my workmates headed to poundland ... I made homemade shortbread cut with my Christmas tree cutter, spending my pound on ingredients, and using a pretty box that I had kept from a chocolate gift I had recieved the previous year and a gift tag from a previous years Christmas card labled 'hand made shortbread'. I won the secret santa that year!!
    Dogs return to eat their vomit, just as fools repeat their foolishness. There is no more hope for a fool than for someone who says, "i am really clever!"
    • Murphybear
    • By Murphybear 11th Dec 19, 12:31 PM
    • 5,318 Posts
    • 10,037 Thanks
    A nice Baylis & Harding gift set from a charity shop is easily less than a fiver.

    Or five items from Poundshop - pens, chocolate, santa hat, smelly, calendar/diary.
    Originally posted by Owain Moneysaver
    I bought some Lancôme perfume in a charity shop recently. It was new and unopened. It cost £5. Bargain I thought. There’s lots of weird and wonderful things in TKMaxx/Homesense.
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