Taking part in a Secret Santa activity seems to be gaining popularity, whether you get involved with your family, friends or co-workers. It can however be equal parts frustrating and fun. The fun is usually focused on the actual exchanging of gifts portion, which seems to have an endless list of ways you can play. I can’t help but think of the episode of The Office (American version) where they are playing and everyone is trying to get the iPod that Michael bought and Jim is desperate for Pam to get his tea pot full of thoughtful gifts selected just for her. More recently, I saw this video come up on my Facebook feed.

For a few people, the shopping part is just as fun, but more often than not this is the frustrating part. Sometimes it’s as simple as you don’t want one more thing to add to your Christmas shopping list when it’s already the length of your arm.

Finding and buying the right gift for someone you know well can be hard enough. Trying to find something that will be well received by a person you don’t know very well, like a work colleague, or worse for an anonymous recipient can be almost impossible.

In order to turn the frustration of Secret Santa shopping into a more enjoyable experience, I can absolutely recommend heading into your local charity shop. And here’s why it’s a fun alternative to your other high street shops.

Feel Good Factor

No matter what you choose, whether it’s a hit or miss on the day, you just made a donation to a local charity and that’s never a miss. So maybe this isn’t exactly fun but it’s going to make you feel better about the purchase. Plus, if it does end up back at a charity shop, you just gave another person the opportunity to find a treasure and make a donation to their local charity shop.

Budget Friendly

You are getting something at a great price. Sometimes Secret Santa participants are required to commit to a price limit which can just add to the frustration when shopping. Your money goes farther in a charity shop and you don’t have to be looking for pre-Christmas sales.
Sometimes you can even find unopened gift packs that have been donated because they were an unwanted gift; just a quick and easy wrap or gift bag and you are done!

Getting creative

This is the part where you really can turn the frustration into fun. Not every purchase in the charity shop needs to be the whole gift, maybe it’s just part of the gift to enhance it or maybe you find a little something that catches your attention and gives you an idea of how you could create something for your Secret Santa.

This last idea is where I have had great luck this year with shopping for creative Christmas gifts. Not technically Secret Santa gifts, but gifts for my son’s four classroom teachers at school and for some of our special neighbours. This year the charity shops were home to some amazing unconventional and functional “gift baskets” allowing us to enhance our gift giving.

The beautiful Christmas tin I found back in November was perfect for our sugar cookies that we made for our neighbours and the snowman mugs were a great way to package up a few homemade goodies and a Starbucks card for my son’s teachers. And the mugs themselves are so cute. But then again, I’m one of those people who loves Christmas mugs. They make every cup of tea or coffee or hot chocolate taste just a little bit better. These little purchases allowed me to stay within my budget but give gifts that I was excited to give.

I should mention that although I have made use of the charity shops for my Christmas shopping for several years now, it is something that the charity shops promote themselves.
My local British Heart shop actually displays a Secret Santa Stockist sticker in it’s window, encouraging Christmas shoppers to venture in and have a browse. They also have this great guide on their website.

So if you are in need of a last minute Christmas gift for someone I hope this has inspired you to check out your local charity shop.

Happy Christmas treasure hunting everyone.