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How I keep costs down at Christmas with a family secret Santa gift agreement

Secret Santa is often associated with office Christmas parties or playful gifts passed out between friendship groups. However, a couple of the Ideal Home team members have turned secret Santa into a family tradition to help keep costs under control at Christmas.  

Worrying about buying Christmas gifts is usual at this time of year. However, the prospect of filling that space under the Christmas tree, partnered with this year’s spiralling costs is frankly terrifying. 

Last year the average Brit spent £548 (opens in new tab) per person on Christmas gifts. However, Ideal Home’s Editor Heather Young and Content Editor Holly Walsh have found a way to keep that figure under control by creating a secret Santa agreement with their family. It could just be the money-saving tip many of us need this Christmas. 

presents wrapped in knitted photographic gift wrap with knitted pom pom decorations

(Image credit: Future/Jon Day)

‘My family all have their birthdays within 3 weeks of Christmas, so present buying in December can be pretty full on,’ says Holly of how the original gifting agreement came about. ‘So it was decided several years ago that we should do secret Santa when it came to buying each other Christmas gifts.’

Heather and her family started their secret Santa tradition more recently: ‘Doing secret Santa with my husband’s family started during the pandemic when family members were on furlough and budgets were being squeezed. The children in the family still get presents from everyone, but we now do a Secret Santa for the adults.’

mauve living room with christmas tree and fireplace

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The basics of secret Santa are everyone puts their name into a ‘pot’ and draws a name out. The whole thing is anonymous, and while this process used to happen around a Santa hat with scraps of paper, there are now websites such as DrawNames.co.uk (opens in new tab) that let you draw names virtually.

Secret Santa’s usually come with a price cap, and both Heather and Holly’s family opted for a £25 limit to help keep costs down for everyone. However, even if you stretched to gifts under £50 you will still be saving by cutting down on the number of gifts you buy.

3 Christmas stockings with various patterns on a white washed floorboard

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

Holly’s family has an extra trick to make sure no money is wasted. ‘We usually all give 2 or 3 suggestions for ‘Santa’ to pick from, so there is still a level of surprise involved.’

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