Secret Santa 2016

8 minutes to read
Thank you Secret Santa - header

In December 2016, contractors across the UK took part in our first ever Secret Santa gift exchange. All Key Portfolio members were invited to join in, as a small way of building connections between colleagues and spreading some Christmas cheer.

Everyone who signed up was asked to share some basic information about their likes and dislikes. From this, we learned that our contractors love stationery, Prosecco, Harry Potter and unicorns – but more importantly, the info helped each participant find a thoughtful gift for their recipient.

And find thoughtful gifts, they did.

Presents started arriving from mid-December, and really did seem to bring a touch of festive joy to both the Santa and their recipient. As one participant put it: “It felt great sending the gift and knowing that they got something they felt was a luxury gift!

Examples of Secret Santa gifts

Examples of Secret Santa gifts received by employees

Some of our favourite gifts were:

  • A music fan with a 60 feet long garden, who ‘loved’ her new classical music album and set of cocktail herbs, which she described as ‘perfect presents’ for her. ‘Thank you for your kindness and thoughtfulness’. – Caroline
  • One participant with a ‘love of mint chocolate, passion for horses and who enjoys a good book’, whose Santa impressed us by incorporating all three interests. Her gift was ‘a box of mint chocolates, a scarf with horse motifs and a lovely silver book mark with a horse on it’. ‘Thank you Santa for such a thoughtful gift.’ – Dorothy
  • A member of a wild swimming group, who unwrapped a new swimming cap and wet clothes bag (as well as a notebook) with ‘wonder and surprise’. She ‘felt super special that someone secret had been so thoughtful’ and has put the swimkit to good use already. ‘Thank you Secret Santa, you made my Christmas Day!’’ – Jackie

Examples of wild swimming

Jackie with her gift enjoying some wild swimming

Thank you so much to everyone who got involved and entered into the spirit of the gift exchange. As one participant put it, ‘Christmas is all about giving and sharing’ and we think that sending a gift to a stranger, with only a promise of something from someone else in return, embodies that spirit perfectly.

We heard so many stories of generosity, thoughtfulness and kindness between supply workers. As well as some lovely gifts, it was nice to see that among the gestures recipients appreciated most were a Christmas card or note from a fellow contractor.

We’ve been collating thank-you notes from those who took part and have published all that we’ve received so far. You can look through these below (use the arrows to scroll):

blue divider line

A box arrived Christmas Eve with several presents wrapped up. It was a lovely surprise as I had forgotten about the Secret Santa coming to me. On Christmas day I was surprised about the thoughtfulness of the presents, all were beautifully wrapped and items that I would enjoy, particularly the red wine. Thank you so much.

Kim was pleased to receive a book, wine, chocolate and beauty items

Thank you so much to my Secret Santa.

To open my 3 beautifully presented pressies on Christmas morning, after everyone else had been treated and considered, I felt super special that someone secret had been so thoughtful. The gifts put a huge smile on my face and were the cherry on top of a fantastic day. The gesture was wonderful, the concept was exciting, and the giving was a pleasure.

My wild swimming group is called the Smarties, because we like to think we are smart, but mainly because usually in a group photo our coloured caps look like a handful of Smarties! My new swim cap fits in with elegance and intelligence. The wet bag has been in constant use already at my local pool, at Derwentwater and on New Year’s Day at Ullswater. It will see many more locations in its lifetime as an essential piece of swim kit.

And I’m waiting for divine inspiration at which moment I’ll be ready to use my new notebook – which is always a luxury.

Thank you Secret Santa, you made my Christmas Day!


Thank you Santa for such a thoughtful gift. You obviously knew that I loved mint chocolate, had a passion for horses and enjoyed a good book. The whole gift was something I can really enjoy. Thank you.

Dorothy received mint chocolates and a scarf and bookmark with horse motifs on them

It was nice getting a gift through the post and I hope I was able to bring that little bit of joy to someone else.

Secret Santa participant

Thank you so much for my gift – I love it and you listened to my interests! The Harry Potter journal will come very handy in schools!


Thank you so much for the gifts they were lovely little gifts. I love things from Lush. Also they were so well wrapped and presented thank you for all your time, effort and money that went into my gift I really appreciate it.

This participant wants to say thanks for her Lush gifts, plus a pen and notebook

The card and the thought that went into the secret Santa was lovely and to pass on a bit Yorkshire Woollen industry was delightful.

Helen received woollen hand-knitted slippers, from her Santa’s local area

I enjoyed finding a suitable present for someone I do not know and receiving such lovely gifts.

Secret Santa participant

Really nice to have a surprise present under the tree and a really useful one for a supply teacher as well. Thank you very much.

Judith was delighted to receive a stationery set

Dear Secret Santa, I loved my ‘The only classical Album you’ll ever need’ and my cocktail herbs to grow myself. Perfect presents for a music lover and keen gardener. Thanks for your kindness and thoughtfulness.


Just wanted to say thank you so much for my lovely, thoughtful gift. It’s a lot more than what I was expecting and you have gone out of your way! Hope you have a lovely Christmas break 🙂 Take care. Nafisa.


Thank you so much for my lovely present, I enjoyed trying the 3 hot chocolate flavours, and the nail varnish is a beautiful colour!


Thought it was a fun thing to do and nice to send a surprise gift for someone too.

Secret Santa participant

Thank you to Secret Santa for this lovely gift that I enjoyed over Christmas Break!!

Anne was happy with her spa products and Lindt chocolate

Thank you Secret Santa, I thoroughly enjoyed the chocolates and the pencils will come in handy for work.

Secret Santa participant

Wanna say a massive thank you to my Secret Santa …I absolutely loved my pressie xx I love Yankee candles. They smell beautiful. From Heidi x


Thank you so much for my lovely wine glass. Was really thoughtful and has had lots of use already!

Emily received a dog-themed wine glass after telling her Santa she enjoyed wine and walking her dog

It was really nice idea to add something extra and cheer up someone else’s Christmas.

Secret Santa participant

Thank you for my secret Santa gift! 🙂 I look forward to reading the book! Xx

As a bit of a globetrotter, Roisin was happy to receive a travel novel

Dear Secret Santa,
Thank you very much for my gift.
Best wishes,

Pauline received toiletries, which she’d told her Santa she’d love

Thank you so much to my Secret Santa for the wonderfully scrumptious seasonal gift. Very gratefully received and will be consumed with much pleasure.


Thank you so much. This is what I really needed. I don’t usually drink water nor bring with me such then my daughter advised me to keep drinking to keep me fit. My daughter is so far and all I have with me is her advice. Again this has helped me walk when I started drinking water but I put it in a juice container. Now I have this, I know I will regain my health. God bless.

After telling her Santa that her daughter wishes she drank more water, Hasmin unwrapped a water bottle

It was nice to give something to another person and also to receive an extra present as I only have a small family.

Secret Santa participant

Thanks very much for my Secret cycling kit and chocolate goodies, much appreciated.


Thanks for your gift. I will be adding it to our family Christmas decorations.

Toyin received a nativity scene candle holder

Thanks for the lovely gift. I will make good use of them in the new school term.

Supply teacher Sarita received a notepad and colouring pens

I enjoyed having a surprise present as well as hopefully giving someone a present they would (hopefully) enjoy.

Secret Santa participant

Thank you very much for my lovely gift, hope you had a fab Christmas x

Debbie received perfume and body lotion

Thank you for your gift it was very thoughtful. Xxx

Once Emily let her Santa know she liked to unwind after a long week at work, she received stationery, chocolate and a spa kit as her gift

Thank you – my daughter had many fun hours helping me colour in patterns.

Stephanie received a colouring in book, after giving her Santa a hint that this was something she enjoyed doing

Thank you for my gift 🙂

Tina received toiletries – an ideal gift for someone who loves relaxing in a bath with nice products

An amazing present! Thank you so much!

Hayley received a Disney cup and a Japanese craft book

Hi Santa, many thanks for the delicious truffles😋 and I love the book mark it is very unusual.


Thank you for the lush bath bombs. Loved them x



blue divider line

If you haven’t managed to send a thank-you note yet, you can send one in by completing our feedback form.