The "Secret Santa" Serenade

It's been a few years since I've participated as a Secret Santa at the workplace.  Over the years, the price requirements have changed, but as the daily price amounts have lowered, it just means you have to be a bit more creative.

When I pulled the name of the recipient of my gifts, I was excited because I felt that I could figure out gifts for her.  Unfortunately, I was preoccupied at the moment, and shortly after I pulled her name out of the bucket, I lost the slip of paper that revealed her likes and dislikes before even reading them.  (As much as I've cleaned my workspace, I have yet to lay eyes on that beloved paper.)  I knew then that I was going to have to start snooping and listening intently to pick up some clues.

The price limit was $2 for the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday gifts and $10 for the Thursday gift.  Since my coworker has already received her gifts, I can feel free to post them here.

Secret Santa #1

Pardon me for forgetting to photograph the gift before wrapping it, but it is a wall calendar showcasing a beautiful horse for each month.  My co-worker is a true animal lover and is looking forward to bringing her horses from her previous residence to her current one.

Wall Calendar - Dollar Tree
Total Cost {$1}

Secret Santa #2
My coworker has a tropical bird and two mastiff dogs.  I purchased two large dog chews and placed them inside of a wine bottle holder that was handpainted by a parent of a student I taught many years ago.  I don't drink wine, but because it was handpainted and beautiful, I didn't know what to do with it, so I kept it.  But, since my co-worker has a bird, I figured she could store his food in the container.  I wanted to purchase some food for the bird too, to make up for the $1 I didn't spend on Monday, but I didn't know what type of bird she had.  I later found out that she has a macaw.  In the end, my co-worker used the wine holder to store the birds toys in and used the chew sticks for the bird as well.  Apparently, he likes them!

Dog chew sticks - Dollar Tree
Total Cost {$2}

Secret Santa #3
For the third day of Secret Santa, I wanted to help my co-worker in the kitchen.  Because she is diabetic, I wanted to give her something that she would enjoy and also make her cooking a bit easier.  My neighbor has a huge rosemary bush in her backyard.  I asked for a few clippings and she sent me a bag full!  Then, lo and behold, the oregano I planted finally started growing this fall, so I clipped some sprigs of that too.  Both were bound with some red satin ribbon.  They accompanied a wooden spoon set that I had purchased at IKEA maybe a year ago.  (Back then, I bought several sets for future gifts.)  Then, I found a roasted chicken recipe for the slow cooker using those ingredients.  Finally, I printed a free Christmas printable from Pinterest and framed it.  My co-worker was so excited that she dug out her slow cooker to make the recipe this weekend!

Fresh herbs - free
Wooden spoon set - IKEA
picture frame - Dollar Tree
Total Cost {$2}

Secret Santa #4
My final gift for my co-worker was a Christmas stocking filled with a Bath and Body Works shower gel and lotion set.  I found the stocking during a random visit to the Habitat Restore.  It was brand new and high quality!  The stocking was a sample from Lowe's and all Christmas items were 1/2 price.  Oh my goodness, it is so soft and plush.  As for the smell goods products, Bath and Body Works has these semi-annual sales and one-day sales a lot.  I have gotten in the recent habit of purchasing sets on sale for future gifts.  I had this scent on hand, but I made sure to let my co-worker know that  she could take the items to the store and exchange them for a preferred scent.  (She later said she was fine with the scent because she was so used to smelling horse poop that honeysuckle was a welcomed change.)  I forgot to get a traditional Christmas card, so I hand-wrote her a note inside one of my winter photography cards letting her know how wonderful she is.  She gives so much to others that I felt she should at least be able to pamper herself with a bubble bath and smell-good lotion.  :-)

Stocking - $4
Gel & Lotion Set - $8
Total Cost {$12}

I had such fun making these gift items for my co-worker.  I know I went over by $2 on the last gift, but technically, it was only $1 since I only spent $1 on the first day.  It was a joy seeing the joy on my co-worker's face.  For me, it just goes to show that your gifts don't have to be mega expensive.  Instead, it really is the thought that counts and finding or making something that means something to the recipient.

As for my own Secret Santa, I received 2 bars of milk chocolate on Day 1, some delicious creamy hand lotion from Bath and Body Works on Day 2, a glam journal with stickers on Day 3, and for Day 4, I received a 3-piece gift set from Bath and Body Works (shower gel, body cream, and body spray).

Merry Christmas,


  1. I'm so impressed with the creativity! It sounds very tricky to come up with a gift for $1-2. Nice job!

  2. I'm impressed too! I wish I could find a nice wall calendar for just $1. Last year I bought one with dogs for my cousin and it was around $10... Pretty and affordable items are difficult to find!

  3. Me three! Your creativity and thought just blows me away - I love how much thought for your colleague was put into your gifts, regardless (and even within) the budget price range!


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