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Bookify Your Secret Santa

Plus 4 examples of a literary Secret Santa campaign

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • November 12, 2023

Here at ThriftBooks, we have a fun Secret Santa tradition—a bookish one, obvs. This is how it works:

  1. We draw names about a month before the gift exchange.
  2. Each of us checks the wishlist of our recipient for ideas (learn more about how to share your wishlist down below).
  3. Over the course of several weeks, we surprise our recipient with thematic little gifts or clues pertaining to what they're getting. We may include subtle hints about our identity along the way.
  4. At the office holiday party, we each share our guesses about who our Secret Santa is and what they've gotten for us.
  5. Then, with much fanfare, we present our gifts!

It's a delightful way to spread holiday cheer all season long. If this sounds fun, but a little daunting, we have provided examples of the types of things we might do for four different readers:

For a Lord of the Rings Fan

  • Start with an obscure clue that will leave them puzzling. Scatter a few colorful autumn leaves across their desk with a note that reads, "The journey begins."
  • Tease them with a tasty baked treat reminiscent of the hobbits' lembas bread. The note for this one could read, "You must keep your strength up."
  • Find or draw an old-timey looking map and write somewhere on it the LOTR quote: "Not all those who wander are lost." (Or it could be something more obscure if that line seems too obvious.)
  • Finally present your recipient with their gorgeous Lord of the Rings boxed set and all of the pieces come together.

For a James Patterson fan

  • The first clue could be something vague, like an origami spider.
  • Next up, more crafting. Mock up an intense thriller scene with silly stickers! They will know it has to do with police and rescue, but not much else—the perfect cryptic hint for a Patterson fan.
  • Then, a mysterious note: XLAE SCROS TSUM IDE, perhaps with a can of white bean soup (Alex Cross's favorite dish.)
  • Their final gift is, of course, the latest book in the Alex Cross series!

For a David Grann (or nonfiction) fan

  • Start with a simple note that reads, "Mutiny!"
  • A little package of chocolate coins will make a tasty clue and a reference to the treasure at the heart of this story.
  • This 2024 Calendar of Wooden Boats will give them something to enjoy all year long.
  • Grann's newest book, The Wager, is another page-turning saga, this one a story of shipwreck, survival, and savagery.

For a Georgia O'Keefe fan (or any art lover)

  • Another origami clue, this time flowers!
  • A pretty note card that just says GO! (The artist's initials will be read as an enigmatic directive.)
  • This adult coloring book featuring lovely blooms makes a great gift for someone who enjoys making and perusing art.
  • All leading up to the gift of To See Takes Time, a revelatory new volume on the American modernist's lesser-known works.

Turn your wish list into a gift list

Our Gift List feature enables you to build and share your wishlist with friends and family. Now they can shop directly from your gift list with the items purchased sent directly to the address you specified. Avoid receiving gifts you don't really want. Instead, build your Gift List and share away!

Tip: You can easily turn an existing Wish List into a Gift List with a simple click of the "Share list" link located above the wish list! Be sure to specify your preferred shipping address.

Tip #2: Within your Gift List you can use "configure options" to select the book condition you desire.

Popular gift books for 2023

Struggling to think of the right book for a certain someone? This list of some of 2023's popular titles might help.

Hopefully this has helped you get your gift-giving list started. And if you need more ideas, check out our Holiday Gift Guide.

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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