Is Secret Santa A Cheaper Way To Do Christmas?

Vintage image courtesy of Mammasaurus
Christmas can be a very different holiday depending on your age. Children usually get a lot of presents (not only from Mum and Dad, but siblings, grandparents, aunts & uncles, extended family, friends, not forgetting magical bearded men!); they get fed like kings and don’t have to worry about things like credit card debt or offending their mother-in-law. For adults, finances can be a bit more stretched and the quantity of presents received is not as high. Of course, it’s still expected that people buy things for other people, whether it’s a last minute dash to the supermarket on Christmas Eve or pre-planned Christmas online shopping with your credit card back in October. However, if we were to retain the same gift receiving policy that we had as children then Christmas would be inordinately expensive!
A great modern invention to circumvent this traditional amount of generosity is to narrow the parameters and only give gifts to one person (from within a predetermined group of people, family, friends, work colleagues, choir groups, book clubs, other people [I’ve even noticed small groups of bloggers doing it!]) in a lovely game known as Secret Santa. 
So for those who don’t know exactly what Secret Santa is, here is a succinct breakdown:
 A group of friends, family members or work colleagues decide to honour Christmas in the usual fashion: giving each other gifts. Now, giving everyone a gift would be silly and far too expensive. Instead, names are put into a hat and each person picks a game player and must then buy them a present. Normally a monetary limit is set, usually between £10 to £20. On or around Christmas the gifts are exchanged, usually in secret and that’s that.  
Secret Santa is played all over the world; in Portugal it’s called Amigo Secreto (secret friend), in Spain it’s Amigo Invisible (invisible friend) in Austria and Germany it’s Wichteln or Engerl und Bengerl. It’s also been around for quite some time and apparently has its origins with American philanthropist Larry Dean Stewart. Stewart came up with the term and spent his life engaging in random acts of kindness, the way every eccentric rich person should. People soon saw the benefit of giving gifts anonymously and by the time Stewart died in 2007, Secret Santa was a definite thing.   

Of course, as time goes by, variations have sprung up. These include Casino Santa, where participants choose between gifts or money and the Grinch Game where people come to a party with gifts that some of the people there might like. They draw names from a hat to choose their order in the game and proceed to pick a present. Once opened, they can keep the gift, choose another one or steal a previously opened present. Good fun!

However this doesn’t help us answer the question of whether Secret Santa makes Christmas less expensive? 
The theory stands that you should be giving gifts to fewer people and therefore spending less money. These days though, Secret Santa has become so ubiquitous that people can end up having to get presents for work colleagues, book club members, team-mates and all sorts of other weird and wonderful people, thereby adding to costs that might not have been there in the first place.
 It probably is a cheaper way of doing things; is it something you engage in?


Now, this not-so Secret Santa has a John Lewis hamper to give away to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment below with your Twitter/Facebook/Pinterest/Google/Blipfoto (wherever I can find you!) ID and I’ll  use a random name picker to select someone to receive this great present.

I’ll leave the prize draw open for a couple of weeks so you have until New Year’s Eve. This should be a nice gift to welcome in 2014. Good luck!

Edit: I’m getting reports that the Blogger comments system is playing up so if you can’t leave one here, leave one on the Facebook page or tweet me @_LisasLife_ 
thank you & good luck again x


UK only. Entries open until midnight 31 December 2013.
Secret Santa article written in association with NatWest. 
thank you for visiting 🙂


  1. Oh I do like a Secret Santa but only if we know each other a little bit (or have significant stalking capability!) There’s not much worse than that face a person does when they open a gift that means absolutely nothing at all to them…it’s also a bit rude I guess!
    M x @lifeoutoflondon

    1. The first time I did one with friends, someone bought me a chocolate scented jigsaw of a chocolate cake, fabulous! 🙂 It helped dull the memory of a work one when one of the boys thought it hilarious to get me edible underwear!

      Good luck for the giveaway, thanks for commenting 🙂

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