30+ Secret Santa gift ideas for when you don’t know what to get them

An illustration of Santa Claus wearing ice skates and holding a wrapped gift in one hand and a giant candy cane in the other.

It’s that time of year again—you’ve been cajoled into at least one Secret Santa gift exchange. If you’ve done this before, you know you can’t just get a gift card. And if this is the first time you’re doing Secret Santa…where do you even start? 

We hear you, and we’re here to help. 

See, Secret Santa is all about the surprise factor. Whether you’re assigned a friend, family member or coworker, you can’t just walk up to them and ask what they want—that ruins the whole idea. So, we’ve created a guide with ideas for every type of gift: creative and unique gifts, funny gifts, DIY gifts and great gifts for coworkers. We also have affordable gift ideas for every budget, so you can find something no matter what the exchange’s price limit is. 

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With all these ideas, plus our free printable questionnaire to learn what everyone likes, you’ll be able to tackle a Secret Santa gift exchange with confidence. (And not that it’s a competition…but you might just win best gift.) 

Already narrowed down what kind of gift you’re looking for? Click the links below to jump right to the section you need.

Creative Secret Santa Gifts  

If you’re crafty or artsy, you can absolutely use that skill to help put together a Secret Santa gift! But even if you don’t consider yourself creative, there are plenty of ways to get your recipient a creative gift they’ll love. 

  • A crafting kit to make bracelets, embroider a cross stitch, or tie-dye a shirt could inspire them to take up their own creative hobby. 
  • Create a mug or a plant pot using unfinished or plain white ceramic pieces and paint markers. 
  • Buy a book that teaches a new skill they’ve always wanted to learn, such as calligraphy or wreath-making.
  • Or take them back to their childhood by gifting them a coloring book for adults and a fresh box of Crayola crayons, colored pencils or markers.
  • Get them a nice pen set, stamps, washi tape and stickers if you know they love journaling, scrapbooking or sending letters. 
  • Draw a portrait of their pet in a movie scene or as a favorite character and put it in a picture frame.

Bonus creative gift idea: If you’re part of a long-distance exchange, like a family group, we have lots of tips and tricks to send the perfect Christmas care package. 

Affordable Secret Santa Gifts  

Most gift exchanges come with a budget limit or price-point recommendation. It’s important to stay around this price so no one feels like their gift is too cheap or not good enough. But trust me—there are lots of ways to come up with a good gift, even with limited funds! 

  • One easy way to put together a fun gift that fits the budget is to pick a container, like a mug or other reusable drinking cup, and fill it with small things like candy or pens. 
  • Pair a scented candle with fuzzy socks to gift them a cozy night in. 
  • A nice box of chocolates and a bottle of wine can feel luxurious without breaking the bank. 
  • There’s no shame in shopping your own closets for a gift—it’s sustainable and thoughtful if you find something that you know they’ll like. (Remember not to re-gift something you got last year if you’re doing Secret Santa with the same group of people!)
  • Find something you know they use a lot, but in a miniature version. This could be lotions, bags of coffee or hot sauces. You also can’t go wrong with little alcohol bottles! 

Unique Secret Santa Gifts  

If you’ve been doing a Secret Santa gift exchange with the same group of people for a while, it helps to have new ideas to keep the fun surprises going. Here are some unique gift ideas no one is tired of yet!

  • Make them an ornament or find one of our hundreds of unique Hallmark ornaments that represent one of their favorite things. 
  • Go to a flea market or vintage store to find a piece of art, a record, a scarf or anything else that calls to you. 
  • Food specialty stores have unique oil flavors, vinegar blends or teas to choose from. 
  • Books are a great unique Secret Santa gift idea. You can find the history of a subject they’re interested in, a collection of essays or a novel you loved that you think they’ll enjoy, too. 
  • Get them a voucher to take a local class, be it cooking, art, a new language…whatever class sounds fun!


Our free printable Secret Santa gift exchange survey can help a lot when it comes to deciding what to get!

Funny Secret Santa Gifts  

While the holidays are fun, they can also be chaotic and stressful. Funny Secret Santa gifts can add some levity to the season and are also a great way to go if you don’t know the recipient very well. 

  • If the recipient has a pet, curate a gift fully for the animal with no mention of the person. You might be the only one who even thinks about getting a gift for their pet! 
  • Lean into kid humor and find a whoopee cushion in a funny shape, like Santa’s face. 
  • Mugs, coasters or socks with funny quotes on them are an easy way to bring a smile. 
  • There are a lot of unexpected flavors of snacks out there…make a gift basket of the most unusual chips, candies and drinks you can find. 
  • If you have a relationship where you can lovingly poke fun at each other, it could be fun to write a song parody about the person. Or purposely ruffle feathers by getting memorabilia for a sports team they are definitely NOT a fan of. 

Office or Coworker Secret Santa Gifts  

Workplaces are one of the most common places to do a Secret Santa gift exchange. Because coworkers can range from best friends to people you have just met, we have a variety of ideas for you to find a great gift for any colleague.  

  • Find fun in the obvious by getting a gift from The Office television series. (It’s not an iPod, but it’s still a really great gift. 😉)
  • If your office is by a lunch spot or a coffee shop your coworkers like to frequent, get them a gift card for their next visit. 
  • Did you draw your office bestie for the exchange? Gift them a Better Together plush set that best represents the two of you.
  • Curate an office essentials kit for their desk at work or home. Mix basics like good pens and fancy sticky notes with fun extras like an electric mug warmer, a desk zen garden or a uniquely shaped tape dispenser. 
  • Find a fun or simple mug and fill it with different varieties of tea, hot chocolate, mini coffee syrups or candy. Pair it with a baking mix for something extra. 
  • A fun and easy-to-learn board game or card game could be a great gift for a coworker to play with their friends and family or even bring to the next team gathering.  

DIY and Personalized Secret Santa Gifts  

Sometimes you can’t find the perfect gift. But you can make the perfect gift! Do-it-yourself gifts and personalization are great ways to make your gift feel more special.  

  • Holidays are all about the family recipes! Gift cookies with a handwritten recipe card or a cookbook with your own notes and tips written throughout. (Here’s a cute, easy way to wrap them!)
  • Make an arrangement of winter flowers and greenery in a nice pot and give it to them to decorate their space. It could be made of real plants or high-quality artificial flowers. 
  • Use your own crocheting, woodworking or painting skills to craft a one-of-a-kind gift for them. 
  • Personalize a puzzle by uploading a favorite photo. Have them put the puzzle together to find out what picture you used. 
  • Create a fun holiday playlist for them! You could share your own favorite songs, make the first word of each song title spell out a secret message, or even try to make the total time represent something (like 12 hours, 25 minutes!). 

Secret Santa gift exchanges don’t have to be stressful or intimidating! Trust yourself, use our ideas for help and know that people appreciate being thought of no matter what you choose to gift. Have fun finding or making the perfect gift—and keeping it a secret! 


Need more holiday gifting ideas? Here you go!