This post may contain affiliate links. If you follow one and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no cost to you. If you want to know more, please read my affiliate disclosure here.

If this post was helpful, please share so that others can benefit!

Okay, so, the work Christmas party is done and dusted for another year. It’s just a shame no-one suggested an alternative Secret Santa idea, to combat some of the wastefulness of the season’s celebrations.

Maybe you managed to gift something thoughtful, eco-friendly, and ethical this year (perhaps something from this list), but you were the only one.

Basically everyone else gifted useless gag gifts or cheaply-made plastic junk, wrapped in glossy, non-recyclable paper with a plastic ribbon that all went straight into the rubbish bin.

You know those gifts won’t be used and it’s only a matter of time before they head to landfill. It’s not very likely that they’ll be donated first, because they’re cheap and not worth the effort. Even if they did get to a charity shop, you’d be hard pressed to find a buyer.

If you’re sick of participating in these events and watching the tide of waste wash over us as consumers, do something about it!

Start now, while the event is still fresh in peoples’ minds. Begin with subtle suggestions that next year’s Secret Santa be a little different.

You don’t have to introduce sweeping changes and demand that everyone’s gifts be entirely zero waste from the get-go. That approach will simply be met with resistance and you’ll end up feeling resentful about the event.

Instead, shift your focus from “MUST BE ZERO WASTE!” to “Wouldn’t it be nice if we added more meaning to the event?”

Introducing an alternative Secret Santa idea doesn’t have to be hard or awkward. Talking about it now gives people time to come to terms with a change.

Changes like the following can result in better work relationships, more community support, much better value, as well as less waste overall.


Pick a rule for gifts

Exchange gifts as normal, but stipulate that it must have a special quality, such as the gift must be:
– homemade
– local
– made of natural materials

Or anything else you can think of that will make a difference. Don’t go with all of them though – you don’t want to overwhelm people with requirements. Just pick one.


Exchange errands or tasks

This might be a new concept for you. Pick a name, and run an errand or perform a task that the person has been putting off. You’ll need to consult with them to find out what you need to do.

Need some examples? How about:
– taking their vacuum to be repaired
– list some things for sale on a classifieds site for them
– chop and stack wood
– return some books to the library
– paint a door they need painted


Coffee and cake, or lunch shout

Each person takes their Secret Santa out for coffee or lunch over the next week or so. If you know each other well, it’s just a chance to spend quality time together. If you’re not so close, it’s a chance to get to know a fellow colleague a little better.



Book exchange

You have a couple of ways to go about this. You can either all gift your own favourite books, or all gift a book you think your Secret Santa will like.


Regift gifts

Agree to regift something from your own homes. Chances are you have something sitting at home, unused, that someone else might like. This is a good way to both declutter and gift without spending any money.



Exchange home-baked goods. Find out their favourite treat or meal and make it for them.


Experience exchange

Think about what type of experience your Secret Santa might appreciate and give them a gift card or ticket for it. It’s best to stick to a budget for this one!


Write something

Channel your inner creative writer, and challenge each other to write a short story, poem, or song for your Secret Santa. Give yourselves plenty of time to put some thought into it.


Skills exchange

Everyone has skills other than those they use for their job. If you can cut or colour hair, bake, paint or draw, have an accounting background, are handy with tools…

Talk with your Secret Santa about what they need done that they can’t do themselves, and what you can do to help them. You might offer to cut their hair, give them a manicure or massage, do their tax return, paint them a picture, install a new door.


These are just a few ideas to spark your imagination. There are so many more options out there and you’re sure to find one that suits your workplace (or friend group).

I hope you’ve found some good inspiration for alternative Secret Santa ideas! If you want to start a discussion around this in your office, share this post with your colleagues.

If my suggestions sparked a different idea for you, let me know what it was in the comments.

Image credit: Monika Stawowy on Unsplash

If this post was helpful, please share so that others can benefit!

About the author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Life: Homemade and Uncomplicated