Whether you draw names at the office or play this game amongst your friends and family it can still be stressful trying to come up with something nice for that Secret Santa gift idea.

There is always that last minute miniature box of chocolates that makes it look like you left it until last minute or maybe this year you want to try something else.

It all depends on the budget that was put on this gift idea.  But the last secret Santa I was involved with had a limit of 5 dollars.

If that is the case with you, then before you panic, check out the list below and see if maybe your recipient would like these ideas.  They can be done for 5 dollars or less.

Make a Cover for a Used Book – If your friend loves to read and you know some good titles or themes, then head to the used book store and purchase a gently used book for under 5 dollars. 

You can then head over to “You Tube” and find out how to “recover” the book in paper or fabric or plastic sheeting or something to personalize it a bit more.  You can even add a book mark from the discount store.  This makes a great gift for the avid reader and is a bit more personal and will make your friend happy when they open it.  You can even purchase book covers online depending on your budget.Secret Santa gift ideasCredit: Amazon.com

The Original Book Sox - Jumbo Red
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(price as of Sep 20, 2016)

Picture CD - If you know your recipient quite well, then you can scan old photographs or take some pictures ahead of time and put them on your computer.  Now take then and copy them onto a CD.  Take your favourite picture and print it onto paper, and then trim it to fit the plastic cover of the CD.

Your friend can then watch this CD as a slide show or choose to get some pictures printed.  This makes a great keepsake, and you can get CDs for quite cheap at the office supply store.  Just takes a bit of effort on your part, but it is a fun gift.

Coffee Mug with Starbucks Tube Coffee - Head over to the discount store and get a large mug either plain or with a cute phrase on it.  Then head over to Starbucks and they sell “paper tubes” of their coffee in singles for a quick instant coffee.  You can get a couple of tubes and place in the mug.

If you know they enjoy Starbucks then this will make a great gift idea, and one that is useful and still within budget.

Altered Notebook – Head over to the buck or two store and find a notebook with a clear plastic cover and lots of paper inside.  Then find a picture of your friend or something fun or maybe from a place they would love to go or maybe draw something if you are creative and cut to size.

Slip this behind the clear plastic cover and you have an instant personalized notebook that they can use.  This one can be fun.  You could print a photo or create a collage or anything that personalizes the cover.

Cookie Jar – This has become a popular gift, but works great if you are short on funds but have these ingredients at home.

Head to the buck or two store and find a nice looking wide mouth jar with a good fitting lid.  Or check your own supplies for one of these.  Then find your favourite cookie recipe and then layer the dry ingredients only in the jar.

Start with the biggest ingredient which is usually the flour.  Don’t mix it up, the layers look awesome in this clear jar.  Then type out the recipe and attach it to the side of the jar.  This way they add the wet ingredients and enjoy the cookies.  If your budget allows, also pick up a wooden spoon from the dollar store and a tea towel to wrap the gift. 

This is a great gift idea for anyone who loves to bake or even if they have kids that would love to bake or enjoy the cookies. 

Recipe Book – If your friend has always been after you for your recipes for this or that,  now would be the perfect time to give it to them. 

Head to the cheap store and in the office supply aisle you will find patterned printer paper in packages.  Also get plastic page protectors from there and a binder.

Now put your recipes on your computer and then print them out on the pretty paper and then place each page in a protector and then into a binder.  This way they have all your recipes in a binder for the price of some paper, protectors and binders, which I was able to find in the discount store.Secret Santa gift ideasCredit: Amazon.com

Christmas Tree Decoration – If you just don’t want to spend the time getting creative, and you are doing your Secret Santa exchange before the holidays, then you could spend some time in the decorations aisle.  You can get some very nice tree ornaments for 5 dollars or less. 

This would be something they would use every year especially if you get something tasteful.  Secret Santa gift ideasCredit: Amazon.com

IKEA Ram 4" x 6" Photo Frame - Set of 3
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(price as of Sep 20, 2016)

Collage Picture Frame – Find a plain wooden frame online or the cheap shops, and then take black and white photo copies of photographs you think they would like.  Get as many pictures as possible onto each sheet of printer paper. 

Cut them out and using a 50/50 mixture of white glue and water, brush the glue on the frame and then the picture and then on top to make sure there are no air bubbles.  Overlap them so that there is no frame showing. 

Once dry, add a layer of varnish to protect it.  Now they have a personalized picture frame to use however they want.  They will not tire of looking at all the pictures on the frame itself.

Cat Nip Pouches – If your friend is a cat lover, then find some scrap fabric and cut them into 2 inch squares and then sew them and fill with catnip which you can get at Wal-Mart.  Close the hole and then make a few of them and put into a wide mouth mason jar and keep the lid on tight to preserve the cat nip.

So instead of throwing a little box of chocolates or that miniature bottle of boos at your friends, make your Secret Santa gift idea something they will not expect and enjoy!