Written by Jessica Goddard

We’ve all been there – your friends have decided to do a secret Santa this year and you have no idea what to buy, let alone how you’re going to afford yet another Christmas present. If you’re particularly unlucky, you’ve also ended up with the most awkward person to buy for.

However, this festive dilemma can easily be fixed. Here is our list of the best secret Santa ideas that won’t break the bank and send your overdraft into a frenzy.

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Food is the answer to everything

Top of the list of easy secret Santa presents to buy is easily food. Particularly for students, food will probably be the most appreciated present when money is tight.

For chocolate lovers, nip down to the nearest supermarket and you’ll always find sweet treats on offer this time of year. Tesco is pretty good in this department, with sharing bags of Cadburys chocolate usually £1 and other brands between £2 and £5.

For perhaps a more thoughtful food themed present, your friends may appreciate homemade Christmas cookies or cakes. These are often much cheaper to make than to buy in the shops and will definitely put a smile on the recipient’s face. Just try not to burn your student house down while you’re at it.


Along the similar lines of practical gifts, alcohol is an essential present for any party loving student. Some may see it as a bit of a cop out gift, however, buying your friend some of their favourite tipple would probably be much appreciated.

You could either spend a small amount on something on offer in the local shops, or maybe buy your secret Santa an alcoholic gift set. For example, ASDA do a Pink Gin Collection gift set for gin lovers, with four miniature bottles of alcohol for as little as £10. What a bargain

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Gift cards

Again, this present idea may seem rather simplistic. But, if you know your friend well and pick a shop that they love, a voucher for some money off will go down a treat. The best thing about this idea is that you can choose exactly how much you want to spend, allowing you to do secret Santa on your own budget.

If your friend is a coffee addict (like a lot of students are), then maybe a gift card for your nearest coffee shop will be a good idea. Alternatively, another good idea might be getting a voucher for a restaurant where you can both enjoy a meal and spend some time together.

Novelty gifts

Who doesn’t love a good joke present? After all, secret Santa’s are meant to be fun and light-hearted. Why not express your inside jokes with your friends through inexpensive mugs, novelty drinking glasses and games.

Amazon do particularly well in this department, with many of their secret Santa gifts under £10. For example, for as little as £3.84, you can buy your friend a self-stirring mug for those hungover days when they feel extra lazy. Or maybe a strobe light beer glass for £7.94 might be more their thing?

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Source: Amazon


You may be thinking that you won’t be able to afford to gift your secret Santa a nice piece of jewellery on a budget. However, some shops do offer some beautiful pieces at reasonable prices.

The online second-hand clothing shop, Depop, is quite popular among students for cheap clothing and accessories. However, a lot of people don’t realise the amount of jewellery on offer on the platform, with many sellers selling amazing rings, necklaces and earrings for under £10.

Your time

It might sound a bit cliché but giving your time to a friend is often one of the best presents to give. Even better, you don’t have to spend a lot of money while you’re at it.

You might tell them you’ll buy them a coffee and go on a coffee shop date or buy them a meal at their favourite restaurant. There might be somewhere you have both wanted to go for a while so why don’t you say you’ll take them in the name of your secret Santa present? It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but it would probably mean more than a physical present to the person you’re giving it to.

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