Friday, November 8, 2013

Secret Santa Saturday: Gifts for a Dollar

A Thrifter's Guide to Secret Santa Success

Thoughtful, Inexpensive, Secret Santa Gifts

Stress-free and FUN Secret Santa Solutions

(they make great Stocking Stuffers, too!)

INSTALLMENT TWO: It's Not About the Money!

Believe it or not, you can get great Secret Santa gifts for only $1.00!


It's easy to focus on the wrong things in Secret Santa. If you worry too much about whether or not the recipient will like their gifts, you can expend a lot of needless energy in the wrong area. That can lead to spending more money than you need in an effort to compensate for not knowing whether the gifts will be appreciated. But making your "giftee" happy is so much simpler than that!

The point of Secret Santa is that it's supposed to be fun (remember Installment One: Secret Santa is Supposed to be Fun?), and by taking a more casual, lighthearted approach to things, it is fun!

Take, for instance, the ten gifts I've highlighted below. Each one came from the Dollar Tree, and cost $1 (the exception being the last gift where I combined 4 $1 items). The trick to using these items is taking a little time to "dress them up." By adding a little note and/or adorning the gifts with simple trimmings, your $1 item can look like a million bucks (okay, maybe that's pushing it... but it looks like it cost more than $1!).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that every gift you give cost $1, but the point of this exercise is to prove that you don't need to spend a lot to get a positive result. Mix a couple of these one-dollar ideas with some bigger gifts, and you've have a great Secret Santa Run.

You'll see that the emphasis here is practical usage. Most of these items are things that people will probably need at some point anyway, so why not take advantage of that? In addition, the gift tags hold clever (errr, super-cheesy) messages, to communicate a personal, light-hearted touch. And, after reading them, I think we will all agree that my shopping skills greatly surpass those of my wit and witticism :)

One more note: By no means do you have to replicate the wrapping/tagging methods I'm demonstrating. A simple handwritten note will do the trick! As far as packaging your presents, Dollar Tree has tons of gift bags and wrapping supplies (affiliate link), so you can pick up a roll of gift wrap for a dollar and use it for all of your gifts, if that works... just be sure to disguise your handwriting...   :)

Full Disclosure: I'm happy to now be a Dollar Tree affiliate (yay!), which means I help them highlight some products  in exchange for a small percentage (5% to be precise) of any sales originating from my blog. So if you click one of the links and then buy one of these $1 items , I make $0.05 ;)

One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #1: A Pretty Ornament



Nothing says Christmas quite like a Christmas tree, and what better way to start the season by giving a shiny new ornament for trimming said tree? They have a whole wall of ornaments to choose from in store, and even more on their website (affiliate link), so your style options aren't too limited. Shiny and bright, it doesn't look like it only cost a dollar!

To achieve the look, all I did was use a clear favor bag ($2.00/20 bags from Target) and shredded paper from Dollar Tree (affiliate link). Tied with a ribbon and finished with a cute tag, this treat makes a simple first Secret Santa gift.

One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #2: A Flashlight


Who can complain about having an extra flashlight around? Need one for your desk? Your car? Your backpack?  I know in the days after Hurricane Sandy, we couldn't get enough of them! The packaging here was also simple. I took scrapbook paper, glued it to thin cardboard, and used Glue Dots to attach the flashlight from the bottom. To give this gift some extra-special love, throw some batteries in it, too!

One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #3: Deck of Playing Cards



Ever have those times when everyone wants to play Gin Rummy or Spades, but NO ONE can find a deck of cards? Plus, you can get TWO decks for a dollar! Now your giftee will be prepared for any impromptu card game! The packaging here consisted of a linen bag (I have a bunch of them on hand because I love them; I got them from Save on Crafts) and another gift tag.



 One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #4: 8-Bit Screwdriver


It doesn't get much handier than a screwdriver with 8 bits! This baby gives you plenty of options so you can tackle those weird projects that come along. One of these days, your Secret Santa giftee will thank you. Packaging again was simple. Scrapbook paper combined with Glue Dots to hold the screwdriver on.

 One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #5: A Sports-Themed Nightlight


The Dollar Tree had a whole section of nightlights, so if your giftee isn't interested in sports, you've got plenty more options there. But in terms of sports, they had baseball, basketball, football, and soccer, so if you've got a fan of any of those activities, you're in luck!

Simply print out a logo of your giftee's favorite team and include an encouraging note! "Go Jets!" or "Terps Rule!" would suffice... I just hold a soft spot in my heart for the Yankees, so I chose a more specific message :). For packaging, I used the clear favor bags and shredded paper again.


One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #6: Microfiber Screen Cleaner


Almost everyone has a phone, tablet, or computer with a screen that accumulates smudges. You can't go wrong with this handy screen cleaner that they can throw in their desk or car. Put it in a cute gift bag, add a tag, and you're good-to-go!

One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #7: Bungee Cords


How many times have you had to strap down some awkward, oversized instinct purchase without the right tools? Okay, maybe that scenario plays out more in my scattered DIY-lifestyle than is typical, but still, you never know when you'll need a bungee cord. This set features three different sizes, and the cost? You guessed it, one dollar. Wrap them in a giftbox (used Spritz giftboxes from Target-sorry, can't find a link, they were on an endcap near the party section), tie it closed with some cute cord and a bow (both also on that Target endcap), and you've got one fancy-looking present.

One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #8: Stylish Hairbands

Ok, so this is probably the first gender-specific gift here (although I don't want to speak too soon), but they were so darn cute, how can I resist? They have tons of hair rubber bands, barrettes, and headbands, too! These are very trendy right now, and some big-fashion retailers are selling them for A LOT more than a dollar. If you've got someone who fits the bill for this gift, then scoop them up (and maybe grab a set for yourself, too, like I did)!

I covered some thin cardboard (from a spaghetti box) in burlap ribbon (the same kind I used for my Chevron Bunting and Beach Scavenger Hunt, actually). Then I removed the bands for their original boring packaging and slid them on. Easy and adorable!

One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #9: Word and Number Puzzle Books


The Dollar Tree had a huge selection of Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, Word Find, and Trivia books. A popular gift choice as it is, but here you're paying a lot less than at some other major retailers. Packaging doesn't get much simpler than this. Just one big, honkin', cheesy tag.

One Dollar Secret Santa Gift #10: BATTERIES!


Maybe one day our society won't need batteries any more... but I don't think that day will be here anytime soon, and until then, we all need batteries. And pretty often. And maybe I'm alone here, but I can never find the size I need right when I need it! So this is the most expensive gift I'm featuring here today... at a WHOPPING $4.00, this combination of 4 Dollar Tree items includes AA, AAA, C, and D batteries. You could even mix things up and throw in a 9V... get creative! But $4 for all of these batteries is a pretty darn good price. And everyone needs batteries. Especially on Christmas morning!

Looking for more $1 Gifts Ideas? Check out the $1 Valentine's Gifts Series--all of the gifts featured could be easily adapted for Secret Santa or Stocking Stuffers!

Plus, More in the Secret Santa Series:

Featured On:

Domestic Superhero


  1. Very clever ways to dress up inexpensive gifties!

  2. Thanks, Susan! It definitely took longer than generic gifts, but I think it gives the gifts a much more thoughtful touch!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this at Domestic Superhero last week! I will be featuring you tomorrow at my weekly link party! Hope to see you soon!

  4. You are so clever! I love this!

    1. Thank you, Bre!!! Hope you have a great weekend! I'm starting to get into panic mode with only 4 days to go!


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