Secret Santa Gifts Lift Spirits

According to news reports “Secret Santa” is out in force again this year giving random gifts of cash to those in need.  This is heart-warming news considering the tough times people are facing across the nation.  I’ve been a follower of the Secret Santa movement since I first learned of the idea a few years ago on the Dave Ramsey radio show.

The late Larry Stewart is credited with starting the Secret Santa movement as he passed out over a million dollars in gifts in his 26 years playing Secret Santa in the Kansas City area.  After his death, an army of Secret Santas have taken up his cause.  An excerpt from the AP story provides a great example of the impact even a relatively small gift can make on a person’s life:

Cynthia Brown, 40, was laid off three weeks ago from her food service job. Santa found her at the St. Louis County health clinic and gave her $100, exactly what she had asked to borrow from her mother a night ago to buy food.

“I have three daughters, and I can’t get unemployment yet. I was down in food,” she said.

I imagine Ms. Brown’s life was forever changed at that moment.  Not because the $100 will solve all her financial problems, but because she was blessed by the generous gift of a complete stranger. The Secret Santa letter had but one string attached, and that “is that you do something nice for someone. Pass it on.”

In addition to participating in The One Dollar Give, this year my family is planning a little Secret Santa gift giving mission ourselves, but I can’t give details because then it wouldn’t be a secret!  I encourage you to find a way to perform a random act of kindness for someone else during the holiday season.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact, it doesn’t even have to involve money.  Roll a neighbor’s trash can up from the street before they get home. Take some bake goodies around to neighbors on the weekend. Offer to cook a warm meal for a family going through a tough time. Volunteer some of your time to help a shelter or local charity. The point is to find a way to brighten the holidays for someone else.

I would love to hear your Secret Santa ideas for spreading a little holiday cheer this year.


  1. I’ve been thinking along these lines too, lately, as I take stock of just how fortunate I am, and how far I’ve come in my own financial goals this year. I’m a really good cook, and I have access to really good food that I grew myself this year.

    I’ve been thinking about contacting a church to see if I could make dinner for a needy family; actually invite them to my home and feed them a homecooked meal, perhaps once a month, send them home with leftovers. It wouldn’t be anonymous, but I kind of like the idea of building a relationship with someone in need. It draws on my skills and resources. I could share garden produce with them next summer. Or if they’ve got their own yard, I could mentor them a little on gardening.

    Right now what’s stopping me is a cold that’s made me lose my voice. Can’t call up a church with no voice… Two days so far. Hoping it comes back tomorrow.

  2. My husband and I always buy hot chocolate for the bell ringing Salvation Army people. That’s cold work – they deserve it. It’s always unexpected and much appreciated.

    Jessica N.

  3. What’s great is often you can brighten someones day by giving them something nice that you have laying around the house. Whether it’s a brand new book that you know you aren’t going to read or a nice piece of clothing that just isn’t your style, chances are you can find someone who will love it. You could also bake cookies and distribute those as Secret Santa gifts.

  4. We all can be a secret Santa, no matter what our financial circumstance. The giving of time is just as important as our money. Thanks for the get post and ideas to give.

  5. My roommate and I do a 12 days of Christmas thing… pick a family or person that is in need, either financially or emotionally, wrap up 12 gifts which don’t need to be anything extravagant, place them all in one box… with instructions to open one a day, for the 12 days ending with Christmas. This is done anonymously… so it’s even more fun for us. She has done this for years; it’s my first year of being Santa’s helper.

  6. Really great idea. I plan to bake some bread and goodies for a single man that lives across the street from us. I really like the “secret” part though … you’ve got me thinking. Thanks!

  7. We have a usual set of groups we give to both at the holidays and all year long (food banks need food all year long!) but this year, I’ve modestly become a patron of the arts.

    I follow the blogs of a number of artists of various media and its been a hard year for a number of them.

    It’s a bit hard to be a “secret” Santa via paypal, but it keeps me anonymous enough and helps their situation a bit, I hope.