Secret Santa Ideas for School – Gifts and Activities

December is one of my most favorite times of the year to be in school. As a teacher, I always enjoy participating in this activity with other staff members. Most of all, I love conducting secret Santa with my students! Christmas time, regardless of beliefs, includes fun activities that all kids enjoy participating in.

From hot chocolate and cookies to set up the Christmas tree or decorations, even funny gift exchanges, use this time as one to bond with your students and fellow teachers.

If you need some ideas for some awesome secret Santa gifts and classroom activities, then you have come to the right place!

Secret Santa Games and Activities in Classroom

White Elephant (aka Dirty Santa)

My students would almost ALWAYS rather play this game than do the traditional secret Santa, simply because they get the opportunity to steal gifts from other classmates! Take beanbags or pillows and arrange your classroom to sit in a circle, and place all of the gifts in the middle.

This game involves everyone bringing their gifts to contribute to the pool. There should be one for each person. Each player will draw a number to determine the order of opening gifts.

The person to go first must open their gift and hold it up for everyone to see. Each following player can either steal a gift from a friend or get a new one and open it. Each of the gifts can only be stolen THREE times.

Classic Secret Santa Gift Exchange

Playing secret Santa around the holidays and having the opportunity to exchange gifts with a friend or student is one of the highlights of the season. Come December; this is one of the most looked forward to events.

First, make sure you have a form for all participants to fill out that lists basic likes. I just found this one on Amazon and I love it!

secret santa name list

Next, allow each person to draw a name out of a hat. Make sure to keep ALL secret Santa’s secret! Lastly, set a clear date for the gift exchange.

5 Secret Santa Gifts for Teachers

One thing about teachers is the fact that we are relatively easy to please. The key to a great secret Santa gift is asking all who want to participate (the other secret Santas) to fill out a form explaining the various things that each participant likes.

Lastly, make sure your secret Santa exchange has a clear spending guideline to keep everything fair and allow participants not to feel pressure on how much money to spend.

Ideas of a Great Secret Santa Gift for Teachers

1. Spa Basket

spa basket

A spa basket is a perfect gift if you are a secret Santa to someone who indicates that you want to relax. You can often find spa baskets that have already been put together like these, or you can take the time to put one together yourself super quickly. Should you decide to put a secret Santa gift together yourself, check out my suggestions below.

Items You Need:

2. Goodies Basket

goodies basket for secret santa

Never have I ever met a teacher that said, “No, I don’t really like snacks…”. I assure you, every teacher has their favorite snack, candy, and drink! Around where I live, teachers eat, live, and breathe Sonic drinks and fast food gift cards.

However, when I have a recipient who indicates they like lots of different things, I love creating a goodie basket of all of those things.

For example, a gift to me would include a box of junior mints, HINT water, cocoa-dusted almonds, and some chocolate-covered raisins. I know, it’s weird, but every time I give a teacher something like this, they LOVE IT!

The Suggestion of Items You May Need:
  • A basket, box, or holiday bag
  • Popcorn
  • Teacher’s favorite candy
  • Favorite holiday drink
  • Teacher’s favorite snack

3. Date Night Basket

The November and December months are one of the most stressful times of the entire year, and that is always why it is so much fun to ring the new year in! Be the secret Santa that gives the gift of a date night. This can include dinner and a movie, a movie gift card and some snacks, or a certificate to your local bowling alley!

This particular idea can present itself as a unique gift that someone could enjoy with their significant other. If you are excellent friends with the teacher, volunteer to watch their kids by giving them a “kid-free night” coupon in their date night basket.

Items You May Need:
  • Basket, bag, or holiday-themed box
  • Movie theater gift card
  • Restaurant gift card
  • Write a nice note!
  • Create a “kid-free” coupon

4. Gift Card Bouquet

Secret Santa Gift for Teachers
Image credit: Pinterest Sugar Plum Perry

One time, I created a bouquet full of $5 gift cards to random fast-food and coffee houses in our area. Nothing says “happy holidays” like a peppermint mocha from Starbucks or an ice cream sundae from the nearest ice cream parlor. Doing this allows you to provide all kinds of gifts by giving a little bit of everything.

Items You Need:

5. Baking and Cooking Items

Lots of teachers that I know love to cook. One of the best secret Santa gifts I ever received was some excellent baking dishes I had been dying for. This is a great Christmas gift for several reasons. One, these are things your teachers can use with kids at home.

Two, these are items that can be used regularly. Three, everyone needs kitchen stuff, and it is usually the last thing to get purchased in the home!

Here are some great baking sets available for under $50, and it is something and family or individual can have a ton of fun with!

3 Secret Santa Gifts for Students

The holiday season in the classroom can be a lot of fun. Personally, this is something I always do because, without fail, there are always students to which the gift they receive in my class will be the only one they get during the holiday season. Life at home for many of my students over the years isn’t that great, and this fun activity allows a kid to have hope and fun at school.

1. Movie Night Basket

movie night basket idea


I love that you can either rent movies through streaming apps for around $5, or you can go to Wal-Mart or Target and rummage through the $5 DVD bins.

Then, go to your local dollar store and grab some movie size boxes of candy and some popcorn, and II like to throw in a six-pack or a two-liter of soda as well.

Lastly, choose a cute basket to arrange all of your items to present as their secret Santa gift to your student. Sometimes, I even like to throw a cheap, cozy blanket into the basket for a perfect at-home movie night.

Items You Need:

2. Hot Cocoa Kit

secret santa gift Hot Cocoa Kit

There is nothing more fun at Christmas time than gathering around the fire with friends and family with a big cup of hot cocoa. I don’t know about you, but in my house, hot cocoa and all the toppings are the best part of the holiday season, and I like to bring a little bit of this to my kids at school.

For your hot cocoa kit, you can place all these items in a cute bag or basket.

Items You Need:

3. Cookie Making Kit

Among all of the gift ideas, my most favorite of gifts is giving the gift of cookie-making fun! What is Christmas, if not a time to make all kinds of awesome cookies to enjoy and share with your kids and make family memories?

Many of my students have never made cookies with their parents. By providing this kit, you can encourage your kids to spend some quality time with their parents outside of the classroom by making a tasty treat.

Just like the other gift ideas, grab a basket and fill it up with all of the different ingredients needed to make whatever kind of cookie you like. You can even throw in some additional ingredients so they can make a couple of different kinds of cookies.

Items You Need:
  • Bag of flour
  • Bag of sugar
  • Chocolate chips or butterscotch chips
  • Baking soda
  • Index card of refrigerated ingredients needed (maybe with a $5 gift card to purchase them)

Final Thoughts on Secret Santa Ideas for School

If you want to plan a most excellent secret Santa activity, you cannot go wrong with any of these fun gift ideas! Each Christmas gift on this list will light up the day for whoever receives it. Plus, these ideas are a great inspiration to use for your family if you are struggling to come up with Christmas gift ideas for them!

This December, take time to thank a friend for their support, write a note to a student, or take an idea from the list and participate in a gift exchange. Have a happy holiday season!

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