The 25 Best Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Friends in 2021

The 25 Best Secret Santa Gift Ideas for Friends in 2021
portrait of Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
by Genevieve Carlton, Ph.D.
Published on November 24, 2021

Advertising Disclosure: Our team independently selected these products. If you purchase a product through one of our links, we may collect compensation. Pricing and availability are accurate at the time of publication.


What is Secret Santa? And how does Secret Santa work? A Secret Santa gift exchange means you only have to buy one gift for your group of friends. Everyone in the exchange draws names randomly and then tries to find the perfect gift for the person they picked. It's a great way for college students to celebrate the holidays without breaking the bank.

We've put together a list featuring 25 of the best Secret Santa gift ideas for your friends. If you're still stumped, check out our list of the best Christmas gifts for college students.

true Price Legend

$ = Under $10 | $$ = $10-$25 | $$$ = $25-$50 | $$$$ = Over $50

25 Secret Santa Gifts Your Friends Will Love

Slippers


Our Recommendation: YALOX Memory Foam Slippers

Who doesn't love slippers? When the cold dorm room floors become unbearable, slip on some cushy, memory foam slippers for an instant mood lift. Unisex slippers are great Secret Santa gifts for friends in college. Our pick comes in multiple colors, each featuring the same fluffy lining and anti-slip soles.

Inflatable Drink Holder


Our Recommendation: Jasonwell Inflatable Rainbow Cloud Drink Holder for the Pool

An inflatable drink holder will take your Secret Santa giftee's next college party to a new level. And our pick comes with its own ice bowl to keep drinks cold. Even better — it floats! A fun gift sure to put a smile on the recipient's face, a drink holder also serves a practical purpose. Plus, you're sure to score an invite to the party for being a great Secret Santa.

Tree Ornaments


Our Recommendation: Lulu Home Plush Christmas Tree Ornaments

There's nothing more seasonable than ornaments for a Secret Santa exchange. So add these ornaments to your list of Secret Santa gift ideas for friends. Whether they hang them on a tree or decorate their dorm room, the cheerful snowmen, Santas, and reindeer will bring some Christmas cheer to campus.

Echo Dot (3rd Gen)


Our Recommendation: Amazon 3rd Gen Echo Dot With Alexa

Most college students like a good tech gadget, and the Echo Dot is a surprisingly affordable option. The Echo Dot can play music, control the lights, and check the weather. And it's also a high-tech alarm clock for college students who need help waking up so they don't miss their 8 a.m. classes.

Card Game


Our Recommendation: Exploding Kittens Card Game

Card games make great Secret Santa gifts for friends. They're inexpensive, portable, and fun! Upgrade from the typical pack of playing cards by picking out a hit card game like Exploding Kittens. Your giftee might even invite you to play a round.

Board Game


Our Recommendation: Catan Board Game

Remind your friend of their glory days playing Candyland and Sorry! as a kid by getting them an adult board game. If you need to buy a gift for a history, poli sci, or econ major, run out and buy them Catan. Strategy games like Catan are different each time, making them a great option.

Gloves, Scarf, and Hat Set


Our Recommendation: HINDAWI Winter Scarf, Gloves, and Slouchy Beanie

Whether your Secret Santa pick is a fashionista or has more of a functional wardrobe, they'll likely appreciate some colder weather gear. Our pick comes with gloves, a scarf, and a hat. Even better, the gloves come with touchscreen-sensitive fingers so your giftee won't need to pull off their gloves to check what time the next bus arrives.

Fleece Blanket


Our Recommendation: Bedsure Lightweight Fleece Plush Blanket

Drafty dorm rooms and apartments can feel much cozier in the winter with a fleece blanket. The perfect combination of plush and warmth, a fleece blanket can also spruce up a room. Our choice comes in 26 colors with multiple size options so you can find the right one for your Secret Santa pick.

Item Tracker


Our Recommendation: Tile Mate Bluetooth Tracker and Item Locator

If your Secret Santa pick often misplaces things, consider getting them an item tracker. They can attach a tracker to their phone and use the app to check its location on a map or make their phone ring. Or your giftee can put a tracker on their keys or wallet to make sure they're never scrambling on the way to class.

Succulent Plant Pots


Our Recommendation: OAMCEG White Ceramic Succulent Plant Pots

You don't need to have much of a green thumb to keep succulents alive. Plants can brighten up a space and make it look more like a home, so consider adding these stylist succulent plant pots to your list of Secret Santa gift ideas for friends. This set comes with six white ceramic pots, which your giftee can fill with their favorite succulents.

Waffle Maker


Our Recommendation: Oster Belgian Stainless Steel Waffle Maker

When the dorm cafeteria closes or you move off campus, a waffle maker can come in handy for early morning and late-night cravings. We recommend grabbing a Belgian waffle maker that pops out crispy waffles ready for syrup, whipped cream, fruit, or any other topping.

Shower Drink Holder


Our Recommendation: 30 Watt Portable Shower Drink Holder

Does your Secret Santa pick get thirsty in the shower? Check out this shower drink holder, which uses a silicone grip to stick to various surfaces, including stone, metal, and laminate. And for your friends who can't wake up without a cup of coffee, consider a shower coffee mug holder.

Essential Oil Diffuser


Our Recommendation: InnoGear Essential Oil Diffuser

For the essential oils crowd, how about a new diffuser? A water diffuser makes essential oils last longer and can help that friend who needs to de-stress before finals week. Our pick comes in multiple colors and features an auto turnoff for safety.

Coasters


Our Recommendation: AD Set of 6 Ceramic Stone Coasters

Does your Secret Santa pick want to keep their tables looking clean? Do they also like a pop of color? Then coasters might be the perfect Secret Santa gift. While coasters come in all kinds of colors and materials, a painted ceramic coaster can help give their place a classy, artsy vibe.

Letter Board


Our Recommendation: Felt Like Sharing Letter Board With Oak Frame

Your Secret Santa giftee (and their roommate) can use a letter board to share messages with their guests. A letter board also makes a great gift for a friend who's recently moved or upgraded their apartment. Our pick comes with 300 letters and the option of 27 colors and four sizes.

Over the Door Basketball Hoop


Our Recommendation: Super Joy Pro Over the Door Mini Basketball Hoop

If your Secret Santa recipient can't get enough basketball outside, get them an over-the-door basketball hoop to bring their favorite sport indoors. A mini basketball hoop can give them hours of fun as they perfect their shot. Our recommended hoop comes with two balls to complete the set.

Salt Lamp


Our Recommendation: Spantik Himalayan Salt Lamp

The warm glow of a salt lamp represents a unique, artistic gift for Secret Santa exchanges. And salt lamps do more than create ambiance — they can also provide a soothing effect. Our pick comes straight from Pakistan's Himalayan Mountains, and each salt lamp is handmade.

Wool Socks


Our Recommendation: Senker Winter Wool Socks

Whether you're braving a New England winter, an arctic chill in the Great Plains, or a cold day in California, wool socks can help keep your feet warm. They're also a great way to add a splash of unique style to an outfit. If your Secret Santa giftee always complains about cold feet, pick up a stylish set of wool socks.

Reusable Bag


Our Recommendation: Baggu Reusable Tote Bag

Reusable bags can reduce waste and help the environment — and they make a great Secret Santa gift idea for college students. Carry groceries, cart books back to the library, or haul your presents in a reusable bag.

Candles


Our Recommendation: LA BELLEF√ČE Tealight Terrarium Plant Candles

If your Secret Santa pick can't keep a plant alive, check out these terrarium candles. Decorated like succulents and cacti, terrarium candles are a creative way to light up a space. Our pick comes with 12 lifelike, creative tealights at an affordable price.

AirPods Case Cover


Our Recommendation: R-Fun AirPods Case Cover with Keychain

Does your Secret Santa pick carry AirPods everywhere? Then consider a fun, stylish case cover to personalize their AirPods case. Our pick comes in almost 50 different designs and even features a keychain.

Exfoliating Sugar Cubes


Our Recommendation: Mineral Me California Lavender Sugar Scrub Cubes

Exfoliating sugar cubes are a great way for your Secret Santa pick to nourish their skin while getting in some pampering. Sugar cubes leave skin feeling soft and hydrated, and they're especially nice in the cold winter months. Our recommendation uses pure and natural ingredients, including mango and shea butter.

Coffee


Our Recommendation: Bean Box Gourmet Coffee Sampler Gift Set

For your friend who can't live without coffee, try a coffee gift set. An assortment of beans can help your giftee take their appreciation for coffee to the next level. Our pick includes four single-origin coffees freshly ground for coffee lovers. Alternatively, you could create your own sample pack by visiting a local coffee roaster.

Earrings


Our Recommendation: D.Rosse Creative Assorted Fruit Earrings

Whether they are funky, stylish, or classic, a pair of earrings can take any ensemble to the next level. If your giftee has pierced ears, consider earrings that fit their vibe or personality. Our pick offers a set of four fruit earrings.

Mug


Our Recommendation: MugBros "Home Alone" Christmas Mug

Is your Secret Santa giftee away from home for the first time? Or a huge fan of the classic Christmas movie? Then grab this "Home Alone" mug, which is guaranteed to make them smile with a classic line from the movie.

Feature Image: Betsie Van Der Meer / Stone / Getty Images

Find the top-ranked online colleges in 2021 from BestColleges. See our picks for the 25 best online schools and find the right match for you. We've ranked the most affordable online colleges in the U.S. Begin earning a high-quality degree with low annual tuition. Our ROI rankings are based on two factors: The true cost of attending a school, weighed against the median earning power of its graduates over 30 years.