Reindeers that poop chocolate, battery-operated bow ties and blow-up chickens….

Brits share their most pointless Secret Santa gifts as new research shows 28 million* gifts will be exchanged with work colleagues this year.

Hubbub calls for businesses to swap to “Second-hand Santa” to: 

  • Reduce environmental impact of the existing tradition  
  • Ease pressure on wallets as new figures show £280 million** was spent on Secret Santa gifts last year  

New research shows over a quarter (27%) of Brits took part in a Secret Santa gift exchange with colleagues last Christmas. On average each person gave just under 2 presents* this means a whopping 281 million gifts were exchanged. 

Assuming this year follows the same pattern, environmental charity Hubbub is highlighting a huge opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of this Christmas tradition by replacing Secret Santa with Second-hand Santa. This would involve sourcing gifts from charity shops and pre-loved sites or even regifting items already owned, instead of buying brand new.   

The research which was recently carried out by Censuswide and surveyed 3,000 UK residents, showed only a third of people said the Secret Santa gift they received from a colleague last year was genuinely useful.  

It also found 17% of people think a work Secret Santa gift is an extra cost they could do without this Christmas. Assuming an average cost of £10 per gift, the total spend for work Secret Santa gifts could be as much as £280 million.  Sourcing pre-loved gifts could significantly reduce this cost. 

As a proportion, younger people (aged under 35) were more likely to take part in a work Secret Santa last year (40% Vs 27% of general population). They were also more likely to have given a second-hand Secret Santa gift in the past (34% Vs 21% of all age groups).  

When asked about second-hand gifting more generally, half of respondents (50%) said they’d be open to giving a second-hand gift this year and 58% would be open to receiving one.  

Alex Robinson, CEO of Hubbub said: “Embracing Second-hand Santa is an incredibly simple thing we can all do to support the environment. This not only reduces demand for new novelty items which use resources and energy to produce and transport, but also reduces waste as we know a good proportion of these don’t even make it home after the Christmas party.  

“The plastic inflatable mobile phone chair you received last year may seem like a drop in the ocean but collectively these gifts really add up! 

We want to normalise giving and receiving second hand gifts and help people feel more comfortable in making this choice – so we think work Secret Santa is a great place to start.  We’re appealing to individuals and businesses across the country to get on board with this movement and look forward to seeing it become common practise.” 

Hubbub suggests 5 actions you can take to make your Secret Santa more sustainable:  

  1. Buy a pre-loved gift – venture into your local charity shops, car boot sale, Facebook Market Place, Gum Tree or on popular pre-loved sites like Ebay, Vinted or Depop  
  2. Know who you’re buying for – encourage colleagues to draw names out of a hat rather than choose a present suitable for any of the team because that’s almost impossible!  
  3. Regift something you already own – perhaps something you received last Christmas that wasn’t quite up your street 
  4. Rethink the pointless tat – it may be hilarious for one minute but the smiles soon disappear, unlike the plastic duck which will last another 700 years  
  5. Make something/bake something – cookies, truffles, chutneys go down a treat and are much less likely to end up in landfill!