What do Brits really think of Secret Santa?

November 30, 2021

Mastercard survey reveals what Brits really think of Secret Santa gifting

  • Brits’ politeness prevails, with four out of five (79%) refusing to admit they do not like their Secret Santa gift
  • Almost half (46%) of Secret Santa buyers confirm that they’ve purchased meaningful gifts for their recipient
  • Two in five (44%) confess that they have re-gifted their Secret Santa present, whilst with a further 37% going as far to return their unloved gift
  • A quarter of the nation (25%) disclose that they think the secret gift-giving event is wasteful
  • On average Brits spend £12.16 on a Secret Santa gift

With holiday season ramping up, merrymakers are once again in search for the perfect Secret Santa gift. However, a recent survey conducted by Mastercard reveals the true secret of this long-standing tradition is that many of us don’t get it right. Often our efforts are wasted with trinkets being regifted, never used or ending up in the bin.

Knowing this, the leading payments brand has partnered with online retailer, Protect the Planet, which caters to those that want to give the gift of more meaningful and sustainable presents. Together, they have created a curated ‘Mastercard Edit’ consisting of the top best-selling eco-friendly options.

Available items include metal straws to bath bombs, hand cream and vinyl coasters, ranging from £3 to £15, so whatever you choose, you won’t break the bank. All gifts purchased on the site, as well as the gifts in the edit, from now until 21st December will contribute 5,000 trees being planted towards Mastercard’s ongoing pledge with Conservation International through its Priceless Planet Coalition initiative.

With the average Brit spending £12.16 on Secret Santa gifts, Mastercard has discovered a generational divide when it comes to Secret Santa budgets with Gen-Z willing to dig deeper than their older counterparts. 18-24-year-olds on average spend 40% more (£14.22) than typical baby boomers (£10.06), reflecting the attitudes Gen Z have towards gift giving and the festive period as they are willing to spend more than over 50s.

It’s not just the generations that can’t agree. Men (30%) are almost 50% more likely to think that Secret Santa is wasteful compared to women (21%). This is also likely to explain why men (17%) are twice as likely to ask for the receipt of their Secret Santa gift than women (8%).

Scott Abrahams, Senior Vice President, Business Development, Mastercard UK & Ireland said: It’s great to see consumers returning to the high street as the holiday season approaches. However, we know this year, more than ever, there is a growing number of people who wish to give gifts that not only bring joy to their friends and family but are also kinder to the environment. Our tie-up with Protect the Planet demonstrates our understanding of the importance of the need for sustainable options whilst also moving ever closer to our pledge of planting 100 million trees over five years.”

Christina Lapsa, Co-owner of Protect the Planet said: “We are excited to work with Mastercard to make gifting during the festive period more sustainable. COP26 showed us that global warming is a problem that the public care passionately about, making the partnership even more crucial. We hope to inspire the nation to continue to gift the people closest to them without having a destructive impact on the planet.”

According  to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, UK sales* are expected to grow by 8% between 1st November and 26th December compared to the same time period in 2020.

To shop the Mastercard Edit, visit: www.protecttheplanet.co.uk/mastercardedit from now until 21st December to contribute 5,000 trees being planted.


Notes to editors 

Research run by 3Gem Research and Insights to a representative sample of n=2000 adults aged 18 + who have taken part in a Secret Santa gift exchange in the last 3 years. The research was run between 13th- 17th November, 2021.

*Except for petrol


Media Contacts

Nila Moloney, Mastercard

About Mastercard (UK)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.