This Christmas has obviously been different than most. With the COVID restrictions causing some financial strife within my family, presents were clearly going to look different than usual. We had to balance the desire for everyone to get nice gifts, and the need to stay fiscally reserved. To accomplish both of these goals, we went with a classic: Secret Santa.
Secret Santa may seem like a friend-group thing, but it worked beautifully for our family. Each person could focus on getting their secret recipient a special and unique gift, without having to worry about shorting someone else as a result. This way, all of us got great gifts, and none of us went broke!
How We Did It
My aunt decided to handle the drawing with Giftster— it didn’t go all that well. Giftster is nice and readable, but the drawing mechanics were complicated and limited. We all ended up having to ask my aunt who we got, and so she had to know who got her. For the rest of us, it was all the same; for her, it kind of spoiled the surprise.
Other than that, the website did pretty well. For people who wanted things simplified, they could just link an Amazon wishlist. Otherwise, you can create custom items (with or without links) to your own desired specificity. I could link the exact t-shirt I want and link to the online store that carries it, or I could just put “Vans t-shirt” as my list item and let my Secret Santa go to town. Everybody can see everyone’s lists, too. this makes it easy for families to grab an extra gift for their household members if they want without needing to draw them in the raffle.
My Preferred List Platform
My favorite list platform to use is the Amazon wishlist. Not only can I easily add Amazon items for people to instantly click on and purchase, but I can also use the Amazon Assistant app for Google Chrome to add listings from other online stores to my list. This makes it an extremely easy task to get everything I want on there, and make it as easy as possible for my family and friends to purchase them.
The other thing I really like about Amazon lists is that you, and others viewing the list, have the option to filter out already purchased items from the list. This avoids the issue of having two people give you the same gift. It also has the potential of ruining surprises, though, so be careful if it is your list and make sure you filter by “Purchased and Unpurchased Items”.
I hope this has given you some good ideas for frugal holidays in the future, as there is no shame in conforming your holiday season to fit you financial needs. Holidays can be stressful as is, and there is no reason to make it even worse by over-extending financially. It is the thought that counts, and I believe the Secret Santa allows the most thought without applying too much financial strain.
Trey LaRocca is a freelance writer, financial sales worker, and tech guy. When he isn’t out and about or at work, he’s usually at home enjoying some video games and a beer. Currently residing in Newport Beach, this California Kid can be found at the beach on any given weekend. Trey has years of experience in day/swing trading, financial analytics, and sales.