Top 10 Secret Santa Tips

Last year, I had the pleasure of participating in the most fun Secret Santa I’ve ever done. The Broke & Bookish Secret Santa hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner.

I enjoyed last year’s Secret Santa so much that I’ve been highly anticipating this year’s Secret Santa all year long, picking up things along the way to gift to whoever my Secret Santa will be.

Sign ups for this year’s #TBTBSanta have just begun and you can check out all of the details and sign up here.

If this is your first year participating in any Secret Santa (particularly a bookish one) or you’re just looking to take your Secret Santa exchange up a notch, here are some tips!


1. Buy a Christmas Card
It sounds obvious but you wouldn’t believe the amount of people who forget. Myself included! If you have a business card, be sure to put one inside! Or create special edition Secret Santa cards so your Secret Santa knows how to reach you! Or simply leave your contact information in the Christmas card and introduce yourself with a paragraph or so about you for fun.

2. Know Before Your Order
If you are ordering online, shop from an outlet that you know ships in a timely manner – for the purpose of getting your Secret Santa out to you so that you can get it to its designated location by the date it is supposed to be there.

I have only shopped at Book Outlet once. My experience is that they ship within the average respectable amount of time (4-6 weeks) but taking into account how long the shipment must get to you during the holidays and then the time you have to pack and ship your gift and wait for it to get to its location…it’s cutting it close. You’d probably need to know who your Secret Santa is early-November (Note that the Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals haven’t arrived yet at this point in time). So….if you’ve shopped from Book Outlet before and are comfortable with the service delivery time in your area, go for it. If not, now’s NOT the time to experiment…

Do not order from a place you have never ordered from during the busiest time of the year because you do not know what kind of service you are going to get. I personally stay away from Book Depository as I’ve only shopped from there once and don’t plan on shopping from there again as they took FOREVER to ship and deliver my order. Every buyers’ experience varies so just know before you order!

3. All the Bells
* Take advantage of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday deals. Black Friday has great deals online and in store. You might be able to get an autographed book on Small Business Saturday if you check out which authors are participating in Indies First in your area. And Cyber Monday is a great extension of Black Friday.
* Don’t be afraid to include a pre-order. You may even be able to snag an autographed pre-order for your Secret Santa!
* Check out your local chain and indie book stores for autographed books.
* Remember, you can gift e-books as well! Find out if your secret Santa loves ebooks. If you’re feeling festive, you might even want to start a “12 Days of Secret Santa” and give an ebook on one of the 12 days leading up to Christmas along with one other small trinket each of the 12 days.
* Is your Secret Santa a coffee or tea lover? Find out if they have a Keurig and what their favorite coffee/tea is as K-Cups or regular old ground coffee, tea boxes are a lovely gift!

4. Check out your Secret Santa’s Social Media Sites!
You’ll not only get ideas from their blog, Pinterest, Goodreads, Twitter, etc… for surprise gifts (audiobooks, foreign editions, etc…) but you might be able to find an “Own” shelf on their Goodreads so you can shop for a book they don’t yet own as a surprise gift! If there is no “Own” shelf on GR, perhaps type the author’s name into the search field on their blog/YouTube channel  to see if they’ve mentioned certain books in any hauls, convention recaps, etc… to avoid giving duplicates. If you get ARCs, be sure to check out what future titles are on their TBR/2016 Goodreads lists that you may be able to surprise them with!


5. Include Knick Knacks:
People include all kinds of knick knacks from bookmarks, bookplates, buttons, pens, notebooks, journals, stickers, and stationery to mugs, mittens, socks, tote bags, keychains, candles, lip balm, etc…

Here are a few places for ideas: Book Riot, Think Geek, HerUniverse, Etsy, Fox Shop, Fox Connect, NBC Universal Store, WB Shop, Playbill Store, Funko Pop

Keep a lookout all year round for little knick knacks that you can include while you’re out shopping. You never know what you’ll find in July on the dollar rack in Target that will be perfect to throw in someone’s stocking come December!

6. Ask about Allergies/Sensitivities
When it comes to food, fragrances, skin care, and jewelry, it’s very important to ask around about allergies and sensitivities so you don’t send a yummy Hershey bar with almonds that your Secret Santa can’t eat because of the almonds or use a soap, lotion, or perfume that will give your Secret Santa a harsh reaction. If you can’t ask, just be mindful and stick with safer, neutral choices. Or throw in whatever and hope that it works out (and if not, your Secret Santa can always add the small item that they can’t use to someone else’s stocking!). Not a necessity but if you can find out what your Secret Santa’s favorite scent is for a candle, that is also awesome!

7. Gift Cards
If you’re buying a gift card for someone who is not in the same country as you are, make sure that your Secret Santa can use the gift card bought in your country in their country.

If you are in the same country, make sure the place you are getting a gift card from either delivers in the state your Secret Santa is in or has a store near your Secret Santa to shop at.

You could always throw the gift card in your Christmas card to your Secret Santa or put some goodies including the gift card in a stocking and include that in the package.

8. Get Ready to Ship
Wrap the gifts (Christmas wrapping paper for the full effect) before putting them in the box and shipping it off at the post office. Add a bow for extra measure! If you’re shipping via USPS, look out for holiday themed packaging and boxes as well! Perhaps include #TBTBSanta on the package and if you’re concerned about making sure the owner gets it rather than a Christmas thief, have your Secret Santa sign for the package.

9. Check the Address & Include Tracking!
Make sure your address has a zip code. I didn’t realize until I was at the post office that there was no zip code to the address for my Secret Santa. Luckily, my smart phone saved me and I was able to look it up really quickly. But make sure everything is squared away BEFORE you get to the post office.

USPS tracking should come free but whether tracking is free or not, it is very important to keep track of your package.

10. Send out hints!
Photo hints on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, Periscope, etc… are the best! Have a little fun and give a little tease. For The Broke & Bookish Secret Santa, be sure to use #TBTBSanta!

What are your favorite tips for Secret Santa?