Tips to reduce waste from Secret Santa gifts


Secret Santa, a group activity to give gifts for Christmas with an element of surprise. You pick a name at random and have to shop for whoever it is you’ve selected. Usually there’s a budget involved and maybe even a wish list if you’re lucky! My issue with this though is the waste we’re creating by buying cheap and rubbish gifts.

I’ve recently reached a point where I’m very aware of the possessions I keep in my life. What brings me joy or has a memory attached to it, what is something I’m holding onto for no reason. I don’t want to keep receiving tat, which could very well be the definition of Secret Santa. On top of this, setting such a cheap budget on this festive affair often just encourages junk to be bought and thus thrown away, contributing to consumerism waste.

My work is hosting a £1 gift giving, I plan on buying someone chocolate, at least this won’t be wasted. Last year I received plastic pipes that made a drinking straw. This essentially amounted to me adding to the plastic waste that is already so huge. As funny as it may be to give a silly gift, is it really something we can afford to keep doing with the direction our planet is heading in?

I 100% do not want to seem like a scrooge here, I am definitely up for Christmas fun, I love the season! But there must be a better way to take part in a Secret Santa activity without creating so much waste. Suggestions I’d throw out there:

• Setting a reasonable budget so people don’t have to get cheap tat, maybe £10?

• Buy your gift from a charity shop, this way you’re recycling items and not adding to product waste. You’re also contributing to a good cause!

• Keep gifts you’ve received in the past that you didn’t like and use them as Secret Santa presents. This may sound a bit tight, but actually if you think someone else would love the gift and it’s still new, why not recycle it?

• Buy local products, this way you’re supporting a local market and contributing positively to the economy.

• Make your gift, this will probably mean a lot more to the recipient and gives you a chance to throw in some creativity!

• You could make a donation in their name to a charity, maybe a bit of a cheeky gift, but probably something that will go a lot further than cheap rubbish.

• Lastly, what about an edible gift? Everyone loves some chocolate or biscuits and even if they don’t, you can bet someone in their family will eat it!

I’d be interested to know your tips for reducing waste in a Secret Santa giveaway.

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  • Reply Amy 05/12/2018 at 8:26 pm

    A 100% agree. We have a Secret Santa on a forum I like, 10-15€ (so £8-12?) budget, with questions we all have to answer so we can pick something that won’t get thrown in the trash as soon as it’s received. General stuff, like favourite colour, what do we like to read, do we collect anything specific, t-shirt size, hobbies, allergies, … With a good budget and directions, everyone gets a lovely gift 🙂

    • Reply BooksNest 05/12/2018 at 8:56 pm

      That sounds like a really good idea, especially what do you like to read. Certainly gives people a better chance of getting you something you’ll actually like!

  • Reply weenie 05/12/2018 at 9:05 pm

    I ‘ve found that more and more often, I buy edible/drinkable gifts and always hope people buy the same for me!

    • Reply BooksNest 06/12/2018 at 6:49 am

      I think it’s the best way to go for this one!

  • Reply Joanne Wills 05/12/2018 at 9:14 pm

    Brilliant ideas! I don’t know about the donation being a cheeky gift though – I think this is a lovely idea and goes to a worthy cause rather than just a brief laugh and something that will end up in the bin.

    • Reply BooksNest 06/12/2018 at 6:49 am

      Well exactly, seems to be a better place to put the money for sure!

  • Reply CG @ Paper Fury 06/12/2018 at 8:45 am

    I definitely think it’s important to be thinking about this! And edible gifts, I feel, are always such a win?! It can be delicious and also isn’t going to lie around in waste too!

    • Reply BooksNest 06/12/2018 at 5:40 pm

      Exactly! Edible gifts are always good for this sort of thing!

  • Reply hanmwill 07/12/2018 at 10:31 am

    Love the charity shop and saving gifts you aren’t fond of ideas, really great suggestions! x

    • Reply BooksNest 08/12/2018 at 3:24 pm

      Thank you so much, I hope some of them come in useful for you!

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