8 Most Dreaded Secret Santa Gifts and what to buy instead_cover
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8 Most Dreaded Secret Santa Gifts (And What Christmas Gifts You Should Buy Instead)

Christmas gift ideas to make your shopping easier this Festive Season!

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and cheery, and merry, and… well, you get the drift. Christmas may very well be the most wonderful time of the year for many of us. I mean, what’s not to love? A time for parties and fun, turkeys and Christmas wine, stuffed stockings and wrapped presents – until you receive yet another box of chocolates from your Secret Santa, or even worse, yet another tube of hand cream.

Depending on your group of friends, the whole group could start booing your Secret Santa for not putting any effort in choosing a decent present, or you could be putting on a tight, awkward smile and silently reclining in your seat.

You may be sitting on the other side of the fence and is feeling guilty for buying those dreaded Secret Santa gifts. You’re scoffing and thinking, “Hey! It’s not that easy buying gifts every year, especially when there is a budget and I don’t know this colleague well!”. Simmer down there, this article will give you some inspiration on new gifts you could buy to impress your friends this year!

But first, let us go through some of the most dreaded Secret Santa gifts you should avoid, shall we?

8 Most Dreaded Secret Santa Gifta_collage

 🙅 1. Chocolates

You’ve probably received a box of chocolates during Christmas before, it’s not a surprise. It’s easy, fuss-free, and can never go wrong. These are all true, but if you’ve been a receiver of a box of Ferrero Rocher before, you’ll know how it feels when you unwrap your present and see the balls of golden foil. Of course, if you’re buying from a chocolatier for a chocolate fan, that’s a different case in hand. But avoid that box of chocolate goodies if you can so that you won’t be labelled as a lazy Santa!

🙅 2. Shower gel / body foam set

Ah, the classic shower gel + body lotion set. Come Christmas season, brands package intricate, pretty gift sets like these to sell to consumers who want convenience. These are perfect gifts for people you may not know very well, especially for female friends. However, many people end up stashing these gift sets away and often forget about them. What a waste right? It’ll be much more thoughtful if you get something your friend likes/needs.

🙅 3. Tumbler

Or worse, a Starbucks tumbler. I’m not even joking when I say I have 3 Starbucks tumblers, 2 of which were Christmas gifts. It’s useful, no doubt, for a frequent coffee drinker (and Starbucks fan), but it’s also something that can be easily purchased by oneself. Especially with the number of promotions Starbucks frequently organises.  

🙅 4. Starbucks gift card

Continuing down the popularity road of Starbucks, a Starbucks gift card is such an easy gift to purchase, since Starbucks branches are aplenty in Singapore and it’s a convenient, easy-to-love brand by many. They also have pretty cute card designs and that often leads to an idiot-proof, safe Secret Santa gift many people opt to stick with. Although I’m not one to complain about more free coffees, but it’ll be really pleasant to get something else for a change during Christmas.

🙅 5. Hand cream

Ah, the classic hand cream for female friends and colleagues. Hand creams are simple and elegant, unlike skin care which can be tricky since each lady’s skin type and concerns differ. Plus you get a wide range of hand creams, may it be the price range, brand or scent. The one common, grounded factor is that they moisturise, and with such a fundamental function, many people choose to buy them as Secret Santa gifts because they’ll most likely suit anyone.

🙅 6. Gift vouchers

Gift vouchers are a more sophisticated and well-mannered way of giving cash, either because you truly don’t know what gift to get, or you simply didn’t have the time to shop for a present. Since gift vouchers are essentially cash, it’s not a “dreadful” gift per se. Although it would be so much more thoughtful to show the effort you’ve put in into your Secret Santa gift if you bought a real present instead.

🙅 7. Photo frame

This one has become quite rare over the past few years as technology dominates our lives, what with digital photo frames that can display your entire photo album, and on loop too. However, if you rewind to about a decade ago, photo frames were one of the dreaded Secret Santa gifts no one wanted to see when they tore up the gift wrap. What would you have done with the photo frame? I recently did a spring cleaning and found 3 photo frames in their boxes, dusty but new, and of course, unused. I threw them out eventually, because I would be fooling myself if I thought I’ll use it “one day”.

🙅 8. Power bank

As mentioned earlier, technology is a firm fixture in our lives, and we no longer can be separated from our mobile phones anymore. If our batteries died, we’ll go into a slight panic and beg for a power bank to charge our phones, that is if we don’t already carry one in our bags. A power bank is so common and affordable that almost everyone has it, and to buy this as a Secret Santa gift is somewhat taking the lazy route, as if you’re saying “it won’t kill to have one more power bank in your stash”. Come on, you can do better than that!


Of course, we have some recommendations for you after revealing all the dreaded Secret Santa gifts no one wants to receive. With the gifts suggestions below, we’re sure you won’t be labelled as the “Crappy Secret Santa” this Christmas!

1. Board games

Lazada Boardgames Sushi Go!
Credits: Lazada SG

Board games are great for people with strategic and analytical minds, or those who like a bit of fun and competition. It is also a perfect companion at gatherings, making it a fantastic gift for those who often attend/hold parties. There are so many board games in the market, all you have to do is try to find out which ones your gift-receiver has so that he/she doesn’t end up with two of the same games. Some of the games sold on Lazada often run discounts, and since it isn’t a perishable, you can always buy them early should you spot a good deal!

Some popular games that your recipient will definitely enjoy are  Sushi GoFantasy Flight Games Citadels Classics, and The Resistance Card Board Game.

2. Passport holder

A passport holder is a good gift for all ages, making it an easy but practical gift to purchase. It isn’t crucial enough to be deemed as a necessity, but it is definitely a good-to-have, and an especially thoughtful gift if you’re giving it to someone who love travelling. This bright, cheery passport holder from ASOS is great for a fun-loving female friend, while this Herschel grey polka-dotted passport holder may be a good choice if you’re buying for a guy!

Passport holders_Christmas gift ideas_ASOS Zalora
Credits: ASOS & Zalora Singapore

TIP: Planning to get more Christmas gifts from ASOS? Don’t miss out on these promotions for some awesome savings!

3. Books

If you know the person whom you’re Secret Santa to well enough, you may know one or two of her interests and role model. That makes getting a gift easier than you think! Don’t fret over dainty packaging or Christmas glittered wrappers, perhaps a book will make a much better Secret Santa gift option!

For instance, if this person is a business owner or aspires to be one, biographies of famous business owners like Elon Musk or Richard Branson may appeal to him/her. Perhaps your friend loves baking. Why not buy him/her a baking book? This gift will show your sincerity and attention to details because you bothered to take note of his/her interests and find a suitable present.

4. Haircare

Sephora Ouai Hair Care Kit-Christmas gift ideas
Credit: Sephora

Skincare products are always a little tricky if you don’t know the person well enough, because one man’s meat is another man’s poison, and you don’t want your present to be the cause of an acne outbreak. Therefore, opt for the safer cousin, haircare. Since shampoos and conditioners are essentials, you can buy other hair products which some people may not want to splurge on. Some of these products include hair wax and pomade, hair spray, serum, hair masks, or even accessories and high quality brushes. Pomades from Imperial Barber looks presentable and quirky, while Ouai’s travel-friendly hair care kit is a fantastic option for the ladies.

5. Earphones

Earphones have become so common that with every mobile phone you purchase, it typically includes a pair. However, there are earphones designed for different purposes and it is a gift you can safely give to someone without worrying too much about its compatibility. Except for the iPhone 7 and above owners, who needs wireless earphones in the absence of a headphone jack. Sports earphones like this pair of Xiaomi Mi Sports Bluetooth Earphones is compatible with many mobile phones and is sweat and splash water proof, a gift ideal for runners.

Lazda Urbanears Mint Headphones_Christmas gift ideas
Credit: Lazada Singapore

This mint coloured Urbanears headphones may be a wise choice for a trendy, young person. With the wide selection in the market now, we’re sure there will be a pair that will make a suitable Secret Santa gift!

 

6. Delicious but healthy snacks

Do you have that one friend who is forever hungry and then complains that they need to lose weight whenever they eat something? Well, here’s the perfect gift idea for them. Delicious healthy snacks these days does not mean eating only fruits or ‘rabbit food’. They can range from crunchy granola clusters filled with interesting flavours like matcha green tea or mocha latte vanilla and delicious nuts in pandan coconut, coconut curry lime, tom yum kaffir lime and more that can be both filling and fulfilling to snack on. This ‘Delish’ Mini Gift Box from Amazin’ Graze could be just the gift to keep them quiet (for a while).

AmazinGraze_Delish
Credit: Amazin’ Graze

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7. An experience

Now, what do we mean by an experience? We all have some friends who don’t seem to lack any tangible things in their lives. Maybe it’s because they have the financial ability to buy anything they need and want, or maybe they just aren’t into material things and are minimalists by nature. Or it could simply be that they have a strong personal preference for the things they own and will prefer to make the decision themselves.

This also means they’re the hardest type of people to buy presents for, and it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of gift vouchers. If it’s not a taboo to ask, you could always make your life simpler by asking him/her what he/she needs. However, if that option is not feasible, perhaps you could buy this person an experience? We’re talking about things like massage, spa, pedicure, and cooking classes, these sorts of experience.

Vaniday gift card_Christmas gift ideas
Credit: Vaniday

Websites like Bonappetour have gift cards with 2 years’ validity for any experience around the world, giving the receiver a choice to pick something to his/her liking. Vaniday, a local beauty and wellness booking site, also offers S$30 Vaniday gift cards to offset any booking on their platform. These new-age gift vouchers will be fantastic for friends who deserve some self-pampering but may not be willing to spend much on such wellness service or experiences.


Feeling more inspired for this year’s Christmas shopping yet? Picking a gift need not be that daunting, because everyone’s needs and wants change with time and age. There are plenty of options to explore if you give it more thoughts. We hope that the suggestions above has sparked off some ideas in your head for your Secret Santa gift exchanges this year!  


If you’re planning to do most of your Christmas shopping online, it’ll be worthwhile to use a credit card that can give you some rebates or cashback.
READ ALSO: Best Online Shopping Credit Cards in Singapore 2017

Written by Debbie Lin

Debbie Lin

Debbie is a marketer currently living in the land of smiles. When Debbie is not writing content for Cardable or her beauty blog, you may catch her in a cafe with a latte, YouTube-ing dance videos to admire dance moves she can never pull off. Stalk her beauty passion on Instagram @sumnsubstance.

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