It's better to give: A student guide to secret Santa

Secret Santa is the best way for friends to give each other gifts without busting through the overdraft

It’s that time of the year again, and being a student, you’re probably worried about how you’re going to scrape together enough money to get presents for your friends and family. Luckily, at uni everyone seems to agree that Secret Santa is the perfect solution.

You could pick names out of a hat, but then you may find that you pick yourself and have to choose again and if at that point there are only two names left in the hat and you know who’s choosing after you, you’ve ruined the surprise. A lot of people are pretty awful about keeping who they have a secret and it doesn’t make matters better if you accidently order your housemate’s present to their name instead of your own!

To avoid situations like these, follow this list of handy tips before you do your own Secret Santa:

  • Don’t order online – unless you do it weeks in advance, but it’s unlikely your friends will be thinking about Christmas presents that early on. Even if you ask for next day delivery (bad move, it costs extra!) you may find that your postman delivers the parcel at 7:30am when nobody’s awake, so you have to wait and pick it up from the post office anyway.
  • Set a budget – it’s never fun when you’ve made a massive effort and spent £15 on a friend and then your present is a pair of novelty sunglasses, but sometimes it can be just as bad when people go over the spending limit. If you’ve stuck to the £10 that everyone decided on and then all your friends spend £20, they’ll make you feel embarrassed and you’ll end up looking stingy.
  • Choose a theme – a cute idea is to find personal gifts that remind you of your friends. For someone who loves travelling, you could buy a map to stick on their wall where they can scratch away the places they’ve been or, if it’s in your budget, buy tickets to a gig of a band they like.
  • Don’t ruin it by telling everyone who you have and asking who they have – this is easier said than done. Even if you do end up telling each other who you have, try to resist the temptation of showing your friends what you’ve bought as it spoils the surprise! If you start telling each other who you have, you can probably work out who is buying your present by a process of elimination, or if there’s only person that when you ask them who they have won’t tell you…
  • Use a website like www.secretsantaelf.co.uk instead of picking names out of a hat – you type in the names and email addresses of the participants and it messages you the name of the person whose gift you’ll be buying. This solves the problem of picking your own name out of a hat.
  • Put on a Christmas playlist and decorate your table with tinsel and candles to get in the Christmas spirit (keep the tinsel a good distance away from the candles) and make Christmas dinner with your housemates or friends from home (or both!) Swap presents after you’ve eaten your main course. That way, the food won’t go cold and you give your stomach a break before devouring the mince pies and Christmas pudding. If you’ve managed to keep it a secret for this long, try to guess who bought your present.

Now you’re all set to have the best early Christmas day at uni!

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