FROM the festive feast to decorations, Christmas can work out to be a very expensive time of year.

For that reason, those who have large groups to buy for, may opt to participate in Secret Santa to help cut back on costs.

But according to etiquette expert Anastasia Martel, the presents we buy and give to others are a direct reflection of our character, standards and taste – so it's important to get it right.

Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, she says: "Even if your gift is a Secret Santa, the festive season isn’t a time for being cheap or tacky.

"Regardless of your budget, always endeavour to try and buy an original and thoughtful gift that will make others feel special and appreciated."

Here, the etiquette guru reveals the five do’s and don’ts to remember when buying Secret Santa gifts…

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Anastasia, who posts her top tips on Instagram, warns there's one "unforgivable" mistake that people make.

"Re-gifting or giving out-of-date, unused presents from previous years is by far the worst and most unforgivable faux pas that will most certainly earn you a cheapskate reputation," she warns.

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"As much as it may be tempting to put unwanted items to good use, the Secret Santa gift should always be purchased for this occasion with a particular person in mind."


The festive season is a time for a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere, but according to the etiquette guru, it's imperative not to get carried away around people who are not in your close circle of friends or family.

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"Cheap innuendos and questionable adult-themed gifts are an absolute no, especially if your Secret Santa is within the realm of professional or work environment," she says.

"As much as these gifts may seem funny and light for some, they can also come across as very offensive and out of place."


Anastasia points out that religious gifts are amongst the most delicate ones.

"Even though many celebrate Christmas during the festive season, religion-themed gifts should be avoided," she explains.

Instead, the etiquette expert recommends trying to keep Secret Santa "presents light and cheerful."

She urges: "Stay away from serious personal, spiritual, or religious-themed items."


Anastasia goes on to say that perishable food and drink is always a risky choice of gift and should be avoided unless you know the person very well.

"Unless you did your research and you know exactly what food or drink your recipient would like to receive, try to stay away from perishable food or drink items, especially if you aren’t well informed about dietary preferences or allergies," she says.

"Also, as much as a bottle of premium alcohol always makes a good gift, reserve alcohol for friends and family you know well."


Handmade gifts or crafts are always special and meaningful presents that most likely make a great impression.

But Anastasia warns: "If there's a specified budget assigned to the gift, always make sure that you buy a gift of that value or more and your handmade item can be added to compliment the main gift."

She concludes: "Lastly, always remember to follow the rules, stay classy and do your research.

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"When possible, endeavour to spend a little more on your gift and never forget to wrap it nicely and to add a lovely festive card."

The etiquette guru notes that if you're completely stuck for an idea, mainstream retail vouchers are "acceptable," but she adds this should only be used as a "last option."

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