Secret Santa on a Budget

secret santaHappy Holidays Hoyas!!! Amid studying for your final exams and attempting the impossible task of assembling the perfect course schedule for next semester, you are dead set on getting in the holiday spirit. Your (ugly) Christmas sweaters have made their appearance in your wardrobe, a fake Christmas tree has been erected in your room, peppermint flavored beverages (like hot cocoa) have been purchased and you and your friends are having a Secret Santa gift exchange!

With Corp Gala tickets, other Christmas shopping, impending textbook purchases and the general lack of monetary funds that accompanies being in college, 4E knows that purchasing a reindeer may not be in the cards for you this year. Fear not! Here are some tips for being the best secret Santa, on a budget.

Christmas socks

Is your dorm room heating system not quite working properly? Want to take your socks and sandals game to the next level? Gifting festive holiday socks is a foolproof way to make sure that your friends are broadcasting their holiday spirit properly, thus fulfilling your Secret Santa obligations. These footwear essentials don’t need to be personally hand knit or made of Tibetan llama wool. Your Secret Santa buddy has surely lost a fair share of socks in the laundry room this semester and will gladly welcome any red and green additions to their collection.

Homemade cookies


Take over the common room kitchen and bake some holiday cookies! Whip out frosting, sprinkles, cookie cutters, icing, edible pearls — whatever you need to make your best edible Christmas trees, Santa Clauses, and dreidels. Bonus points for cleaning common room kitchen as a gift to all of your floor mates (who may or may not have embellished their organizational tendencies on CHARMS).

A Personal Christmas Carol Serenade

Ambush this person in a public place. 4E recommends Leo’s, Red Square or one of the quiet floors of Lau; serenade them with a lovely rendition of all of your favorite Christmas carols. Bonus points for a personal interpretation of the Mean Girls “Jingle Bell Rock” performance.

Other Pro Tips

Dress up like Santa and deliver your gift via chimney to make this experience as realistic and meaningful as possible for your Secret Santa buddy. No worries if your Secret Santa buddy’s dorm room doesn’t have a fireplace; the fireplaces in HSFC were surely designed with Christmas eve present delivery reenactments in mind. Is it really Secret Santa if there are no Santa costumes involved? 4E doesn’t think so either and expects you to act accordingly.



The Secret Santa Conundrum

Secret SantaBreak out the holly and dust off your elf shoes: It’s the holiday season once again! We all love getting presents, but giving them can be tough. One of our most treasured (and common) holiday traditions is the “secret Santa” gift exchange. For those of you who don’t know what a secret Santa is, go read a book or something.

As every former secret Santa knows, it can be very difficult to find a gift that works both for the person and the price range. Being a college student does not help the process either. Right now, we’re fully occupied with finals, fighting for tables in Lau and preparing for the holidays, so shopping does not always fit into our busy schedules.

And now, to add to the holiday horror, let’s say you reach your hand into the hat of secret Santa choices and – gasp! – you select someone you don’t know. 


What are you supposed to do? You have no idea what their interests are or where they are from. How are you supposed to get them a meaningful/funny gift that will make everyone think you’re witty and cool but that won’t make the receiver question your sanity? We feel your pain. Here are some great secret Santa gift options that are sure to put you in the holiday spirit.

To begin, try to find out anything you can about this mystery person to whom you have been assigned. 4E welcomes (and even encourages) Facebook stalking, so go crazy. Don’t forget to check Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Tinder, Lulu and any other social media site you fancy. Everything helps when you are in this sticky situation.

Then, stick with these cost effective and time-tested basics:

Fuzzy socks This is one of my go-to items. While this is used more for girls than guys, anyone should be able to enjoy the magic that these can bring! Fuzzy socks can be found at most retail locations, so depending on your price limit you can play it safe at T.J. Maxx or go crazy at J. Crew.

Scarves ‘Tis the season for warm clothing! It is hard to say no to a pretty scarf: They are trendy, comfortable and, most importantly, WARM.

Candy basket Finals make people hungry, and hungry people like candy. Save a life: Buy some candy. Hit up CVS and buy a variety of different treats. To make this gift more special, throw it in a decorative bag.

Mugs Whether they are used for coffee, tea or hot chocolate, mugs are always useful. A helpful tip: Anthropologie sells a variety of decorative mugs with different letters on them. These range from about $8-$15, and they are adorable.

Cupcakes Georgetown is known for its cupcake locations. As you should realize by now, nothing says “Merry Christmas” like food. Whether this is your entire gift or just a sub-section, cupcakes are always a great idea.

Frames Georgetown locations have a wide selection of frames. This is a great gift idea because Georgetown students love to show off their friends and family, filling their rooms with pictures. T.J. Maxx/Homegoods have great selections, as does Urban Outfitters. You’ll get extra points if you put a picture of yourself and the giftee in the frame. And if you’re not on that level, photoshop yourself into a picture with them. It’s creepy but heartfelt.

Posters Hoyas love to decorate their cribs (not just with frames), so make them a poster! All you have to do is find a funny picture, add some equally uproarious text and upload it onto a website like this that blows up photos for free! You’ll only have to pay for printing at the Gelardin color printer, so you can buy even more goodies if you want to up the ante.

Alcohol paraphernalia For those of you readers who are above that magic age, flasks are the perfect gift, as they tend to be super cute and really funny. Urban Outfitters offers a wide array of options that are sure to please any thirsty Hoya.

The classic “gag” gift Many stores in the Georgetown area offer funny trinkets that are sure to make even the biggest Grinch smile. Urban Outfitters (I know, once again) has thousands of little items ranging from books to funny bandaids.

Gift cards Hear me out. Yes, gift cards can come off as insensitive, but they are not a bad last resort. I am personally a fan of Sweetgreen, Tombs, Saxbys and/or Corp gift cards (If you have me for secret Santa, take a hint.). You can make them fit your price range and even add a few pieces of candy along with them! No one can turn down free food and snacks … and if they do, they do not deserve your gift.

Still stuck? Luckily, most people will not turn down a gift. Just because it isn’t something they want does not mean they won’t enjoy it! Don’t stress. Secret Santas are supposed to be fun, and it’s the thought that counts, right?

Photos: Tumblr, Punch Bowl