Best secret Santa gifts 2021: Ideas for your colleagues and friends

·13-min read
 (Chococo)
(Chococo)

Christmas has (nearly) come around and that only means one thing – secret Santa.

I can already see the beads of sweat gathering on your brow and hear your heart drop. What to get for that colleague you’ve never met, or that dodgy relative you haven’t seen in four years, or the person who already has everything? But never fear, that’s where we come in.

From bars of soap to chocolate, socks to spice mix, we’re armed with a huge array of gifts to suit even the most difficult of recipients and ensure your festivities kick off in the best of spirits.

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Cambridge thermal insulated flask bottle

With travel slowly opening up again, there’s never been a better time to get your hands on a reusable bottle. And with Cambridge’s insulated flask bottle, you can be sure you’re getting nothing short of quality.

The 500ml stainless steel bottle is fully shatter proof and comes with a secure screw-top lid that fits on tightly to stop leaks. The insulation also means it keeps drinks beautifully hot or cold for up to 12 hours, making it the perfect travel companion.

Unlike many other plainer bottles, Cambridge’s come in several fun and interesting designs – including ocean, leopard and my personal favourite, the Eighties-inspired aloha palm beach – so you’re sure to stand out from the crowd.

Coming in at under £13, this is the perfect thing for anyone you’re stuck buying for, no matter who they are.

Buy now £12.99, Amazon

Chococo chocolate tree with gems

Who doesn’t like chocolate for Christmas? Or at any time, for that matter. That’s where Chococo steps in.

This luxury Dorset-based chocolate brand not only scores major plus points for its sustainability credentials – with chocolate produced in the country of origin, using locally sourced ingredients where possible and with completely plastic-free packaging – their chocolate is also utterly delicious.

If you’ve got a sweet-toothed recipient for your secret Santa, then Chococo’s chocolate tree with gems is just the job. The beautifully crafted trees are hand-decorated with a stunning holly pattern and accompanied with six assorted tasty chocolate treats.

They come in two flavours, milk chocolate (with spiced rum, sea salt caramel and gold with cocoa nibs and hazelnut gems) and dark chocolate (with spiced rum, chilli tickle caramel and chocolate orange gems), and the dark chocolate tree is also suitable for vegans, so there’s no need to panic about dietary requirements. If you can manage to restrain yourself for long enough, these would also look beautiful as a table decoration.

Buy now £25.00, Chococo

Zest and Zing spice set

Bring some pizazz to the culinary lover in your life with Zest and Zing’s spice sets. These nifty tubes come in packs of four and are organised by flavour combinations from around the world.

There’s the Middle East, which contains harissa spice, Aleppo pepper, ras el hanout and sumac and is guaranteed to lift any tagine. Or tantalise taste buds with the Asian selection, which includes Chinese five spice, katsu curry, sriracha and Thai curry, and allow yourself to be taken on a tour of the continent’s vast cuisine.

For those craving curry, the Indian mix of cumin, curry, garam masala and tandoori spice are sure to add depth to both meat and vegetables. Or head over to Mexico for an unforgettable combination of mole, chilli lime salt, jalapeño pepper and chipotle chilli.

Zest and Zing’s spices are not only fantastic quality, each tube comes with two mini wooden spoons to scoop your spices out of the beautifully designed glass pots. You’re sure to want to put them on display.

Buy now £39.95, NOTHS

Kankan soap bottles

Kankan is paving the way for refills to become more mainstream with their funky soap-filled cans. Soap? In a can? I hear you say. The answer is a firm yes.

The way it works is simple; you get your hands on one of their forever starter soap bottles and once you’ve finished it, instead of throwing it away, you reach for one of their refill cans to fill the bottle back up again. And again. And so it goes on.

The reason for the can is simple; unlike plastic, aluminium is infinitely recyclable and thus using them cuts the need for single-use plastic.

If the idea of getting soap (their current range includes hand, body and baby wash) in a can wasn’t enough to convince you, the scent certainly will. Fresh, floral and fragrant, these are soaps that will make you want to wash your hands at every opportunity (Covid aside).

All the ingredients are carefully sourced and the soaps contain no artificial colours or fragrances and are also free from sulphates, parabens and silicon.

What are you waiting for? It’s time for the bubbly!

Buy now £24.00, Kankan

Made by Coopers night time ritual kit

If you know someone who needs a bit more zen in their life (that’s all of us, right?), Made by Coopers is just the thing.

They offer all sorts of gift bundles online, and to suit a range of moods, but one of my favourites is the night time ritual. Included in this is the sleepy head room and pillow spray – a heavenly mix of frankincense, chamomile and organic lavender scents – as well as a beauty balm and eye pillow, all of which help you drift off peacefully.

The calm collection is also fabulous for those who need a little extra help switching off. The natural wax candle, made from 100 per cent sustainable coconut and rapeseed oils, is blended with five essential oils and offers up to 34 hours of unadulterated bliss. This comes alongside a calm spray and eye pillow to encourage you to relax and unwind.

All of these products are also available individually if you want to address multiple sides of wellbeing.

Buy now £40.00, NOTHS

Thought sock gift box

If you’re really clutching at straws when it comes to finding something for your secret Santa, you can really never go wrong with socks. It’s something everyone always needs but never gets round to buying. And with Thought’s sock gift boxes, you really are in for a treat.

While there are many clothing brands out there, what puts Thought a cut above the rest is their commitment to finding more sustainable answers to fashion, which lies behind every item in their range and is reflected in their dedication to responsible sourcing.

When it comes to socks, Thought’s extensive range (which are made from super soft bamboo and cotton) is one to marvel at. It offers something for all the family, in a myriad of designs – and crucially an excellent Christmas selection – and with options suitable for a variety of budgets.

Their Christmas sock gift bundles come in a cute box packaging and will give a little extra edge to your presents this season.

Buy now £7.95, Thought

Sbtrct Christmas bauble and moisturising balm bundle

All those with a beauty queen in their life, listen up!

Sbtrct prides itself on being a high-performing but sustainable skincare brand. It is focused on getting the best results for your skin, but without the environmental compromise.

In making products that are entirely free from plastic and palm oil, and made with less than 0.5 per cent water, they are helping address the main issues facing the beauty industry at the moment: water waste, plastic pollution and excess of palm oil.

They have five balms on offer: the gentle foaming cleanser, moisturising facial balm, makeup melt, clarifying facial exfoliator and rejuvenating night balm, as well as a whole host of bundles that allow you to get the best from your face-cleaning routine.

The gentle foaming cleanser is subtly fragranced with geranium, rose and tonka bean, for a beautifully uplifting start to your day, while the makeup melt gently removes residue, leaving your skin feeling fresh and clean.

To truly get into the spirit of the season though, get your hands on the limited-edition Christmas bauble and moisturising balm bundle. The balm, which lasts around eight weeks if used daily, helps promote skin firmness and elasticity whilst also maintaining moisture, and this comes wrapped up in a bauble-shaped pot made from one of the most sustainable crops, bamboo.

Who knew beauty could feel so good?

Buy now £32.00, Sbtrct

Ravensburger solar system 3D jigsaw puzzle

What is Christmas without a game or two? Ravensburger’s 3D solar system puzzle offers hours of fun for all the family, with an added educational bonus of teaching children (and yourself) about the planets.

Made up of 522 pieces, this set of eight planets is the perfect thing if you often get bored with larger puzzles but are still after a challenge – and it also avoids any impending family feuds, as everyone can work on building a different planet simultaneously.

The curved pieces are numbered to allow for easy assembly and each planet comes with its own display stand. Once built, the set can either be placed on the accompanying solar system poster or be hung up as a mobile.

The kit also comes with a leaflet providing fun facts on the planets, which is just the job for space enthusiasts out there!

Buy now £39.99, John Lewis

Anti protection hand sanitiser bundle

If you’re in need of a gift for the person who has everything, or for someone who likes great innovations, look no further than Anti.

Who hasn’t thought about how many plastic bottles of hand sanitiser they’ve thrown away over the years, especially since Covid? Luckily, that’s where Anti comes in.

They make sanitiser like you’ve never seen it before, that is, completely without plastic! Their sleek and stylish bottles are crafted from high-grade aluminium and designed to use again and again, helping to cut plastic use by a huge 86 per cent.

The bottles – which you refill with their signature sanitiser pouches – are made to be as compact as possible and so are available in 20ml or 30ml sizes – perfect for shoving in a bag. They also have a twist-lock cap to ensure your journey is leak-free.

The refilling process is really simple and fuss-free, owing to the viscosity of the sanitiser, and each pouch holds enough for several refills. You can really tell that Anti has done their research in this regard. What’s more, once you’re done, you can send the pouches back and get a 20 per cent discount on your next purchase – bonus points!

The sanitiser itself is absolutely fantastic. The scent (which is available in bergamot and sea salt and driftwood) is one of the best-smelling sanitisers on the market; it’s all subtlety with none of that cloying alcohol smell you usually get. It’s also not sticky, which seems to be an issue with so many out there.

Both the black and silver colours (the silver is only available in 30ml) are super stylish and make such a nice change from the other options on the market. If you want to add a little bit more of a personal touch to your present this year, they also offer bespoke etching for all its three-bottle bundles. With Anti in your pocket, you really can’t go wrong.

Buy now £14.00, Anti

Loopeco

Loopeco describes itself as providing 100 per cent natural, organic and effective skincare that does all the hard work for you. It’s a big claim, but one that the brand certainly lives up to.

A closed-loop economy is one where no waste is created, and this is exactly what Loopeco aims to do, hence the name. In looking closely at their water, waste, energy and emissions, they avoid 0.44 tonnes of plastic waste per year in the manufacturing and packaging of their products, compared with traditional practises – an indubitably massive feat.

Their face range is made up of several fantastic products suitable for all genders, including the radiance face wash, detox face mask and salubrious serum, but it is their tranquillity bath salts that I really took a shine to.

Made from a soothing and salubrious mix of arnica, sea buckthorn, liquorice root and calendula, these mineral-rich salts are packed to the brim with raw botanicals to calm the body and mind.

If you’re not a fan of the typically super potent-smelling bath products, these have a mild but refreshing aroma that, after sprinkling into the bath at the end of a long/tiring/stressful day, will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

Buy now £34.99, Loopeco

Fever-Tree gin and tonic pairing crackers

Alcohol is undeniably part of the festive feeling, and what better way to set things off than with Fever-Tree’s fabulous pairing crackers?

This bundle – which is exclusive to John Lewis – contains four perfect pairings for the G&T lover in your life. There’s Salcombe Gin’s Rose Sainte Marie with Indian tonic water – a beautiful pink gin that turns things up a notch on the classic combo; Chase’s unbeatable pink grapefruit and pomelo gin mixed with a can of light tonic mixer; the intriguing pink pepper gin by Audemus which is given subtle floral notes from the elderflower tonic; and lastly Sipsmith’s orange and cacao gin which, when mixed with the clementine tonic water, tastes like Christmas in a glass.

With Fever-Tree’s pairing crackers, you’re sure to start the Christmas period off with a bang.

Buy now £32.00, John Lewis

Skin Alchemists festive soap bars

A beautifully-scented luxury soap is, I think, one of the best gifts you can give or receive. How often otherwise would you treat yourself to something that wasn’t the standard run-of-the-mill bar of Palmolive?

Time to bring in the big guns and welcome Skin Alchemists to the stage. Centring on unifying the holistic benefits of traditional herbal medicine and alchemy, this brand mixes up raw materials to bring about transformation. And trust me when I say their scents alone are enough to transform.

Luckily for you, their artisan soap bars – which are hand-poured and cured for eight weeks – are now available in a special festive collection. Inside you will find three soaps – cardamom rose, spiced orange and candy cane – all of which will fill your nose with deliciousness, evoking strong Christmas scent-sations.

Skin Alchemists are set on minimising impact and protecting the environment, which is why their process is practically zero waste, even down to using soap shavings for their Chances programme. The soaps are handcrafted from 100 per cent natural ingredients - which have been sustainably sourced - and the boxes are made from recycled card.

For guaranteed uplifting fragrances and feel-good vibes, opt for Skin Alchemists.

Buy now £30.00, Skin Alchemists

Nandos personalised sauce bottles

The cheekiest Secret Santa gift around comes from none other than Nandos. This festive season, you can order personalised bottles of their signature sauces, opening the window for in-jokes and nicknames on the label. Choose one of four faves: Lemon & Herb; Medium; Garlic and Hot and add a message to make the bottle theirs.

Buy now £10.00, Nandos

Verdict

For a secret Santa gift that’s guaranteed to lift everyone’s spirits, Skin Alchemists is the place to go. Not only do their products smell fab, they also do great things for the environment. Who needs more of an excuse for a bit of R&R this Christmas? But in close second place, it’s got to be Anti Protection’s nifty little hand sanitisers, which are stylish as well as effective.

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