The build up that is the last weekend before Christmas is likely to see many a Christmas party, complete with Secret Santa. For those who are not familiar with the concept, Secret Santa involves drawing a name at random out of a bag and gifting them a present under £5 or £10 in price.
More recently, around the homes and offices in the UK, the latest craze that’s taken hold is Yankee Swap – which involves buying a random present and then drawing a name out of a hat. Lined up from the first to the last number, everyone picks a random present. This time around though, you have more options than the one your Secret Santa has thrust upon you. Depending on the rules, if you have a higher or a lower number, you can claim any present you’ve clapped your eyes on from those whose numbers are smaller or higher than yours.
Hence the few weeks before Christmas sees the mad dash to the shops for suitable and affordable presents for friends or colleagues. Often the trick is to pick something you would like yourself so in the worst case scenario, if your fellow secret Santas have opted for a Yankee swap, you can at least claim your present back. The trouble is, amongst the seasonal tat in the shops, what to pick, especially if you are aiming for a unisex present which rules out a nail polish or toiletry set.
Often overlooked are charity shops – on the high street practically in any corner of the UK, you’re guaranteed to find a bunch of unique, one-of-a-kind gifts. And with the average charity shop price tags, you will be well within the £5-10 budget.
With this in mind I hit the charity shops of Milton Keynes over the last couple of weeks in search of perfect presents I would’t mind gifting myself.
Something cute and humourous
Who can go wrong with a fun pressie for Secret Santa? A mug with a picture of Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer and a red scarf around it keeping his nose warm? Check. ‘Ring for a drink’ bell for drinks on tap on Christmas Day. Check. Sadly, I had to let this one go for a Secret Santa.
It’s Christmas time after all and you definitely can’t go wrong with something red and festive. I found these brand new gloves in Barnardo’s. While it would be perfectly fine to wrap them up on their on, just to add to the idea of gifting, they can also be presented in a bauble – I found this one in the 99p box. Alternatively, you can also find a box like this and fill it with sweets or cosmetics.
Speaking of sweets, always a good idea. Another find in the 99p pile was this Santa statuette. You can fill it up with sweets, chocolate balls or jelly beans. I am yet to see anyone complain about getting chocolate for Christmas, but then again, you can also use this chubby Santa as a candle holder too.
An erstwhile Canon merchandise, I believe, now at £4.99, this was one of my favourite finds. A genuine leather travel pouch with enough room for passport, currency, cards and anything else you may pop in, it makes a brilliant unisex pressie.
You wouldn’t dream of finding a cake stand for under £5 but I scored well with this one at just £4.99. The red and green theme is perfect for Christmas and is likely to make any female colleague or friend happy, or you can always keep it for Mum on Valentine’s.
A hat and scarf set all under £5. These never-worn-before pair were £2 each from Willen Hospice. They aren’t a set exactly but that’s the whole point of charity shopping. If the colour fits, you grab it. I got these ones for myself actually and what I love about the wooly hat is I can pair it with a black or a grey scarf too.
Possibly one of the most unique and stylish cups you can gift. This was also from Willen Hospice for a fab £4.99. Boxed and brand new, it definitely would make a unique present for those who enjoy endles cups of tea or coffee over the Christmas break.
Something stylish, shiny and red
Okay, I may have cheated a bit, coming in at £6 with this Oxfam find, but I wasn’t going to let this one go. A cute little handbag, complete with a scarf, perfect to brighten up your holiday looks but also good enough to go with the LBD all year round.