I remember shopping at the Santa's Workshop when I was little! Wow, that's a deeply recessed memory.. Anyway, I'm not sure if the items are donated by businesses/parents or if they're purchased by the school.
Since I have never done anything like this, I googled it, and this is what I found. GIFTS GALORE STORE
They do these kind of things. I couldn't get the brochure to come up on my screen, but from the small brochure picture, it looks like the type of things that I remember available to buy -- simple but all-around great gifts.
Also, you could use this as a great way to get some extra money for the school (PTA, etc). Write up a formal letter and send it to a bunch of businesses, privately and corporately owned, asking for donations for the program. Even getting donations from the Dollar Store would be good.
If I was in your shoes, this is what I would do:
- Buy (or have donated) wrapping paper & holiday tags too, so the kids can take the gifts home completely wrapped.
- Make up a really cute page of different holiday gift tags for the kids in coloring book style,
coordinating the tags so they're easy to tell adults from kids (square for adults, round for kids). Doing this will help the volunteers if they have a problem figuring out who's a child and who's an adult. Send the gift tags home with the kids to color; have the parents decide who they're buying gifts for and put their names on the coordinating tags (Dad, Mom, Papa Don, Susie, Jack, etc). The child can bring them back into school for the secret shop. Or, send a paper home for the parent/child to determine a list of gift recipients and have the child color/label the tags in class free time, and the teachers collect them for shopping later. (in case you're worried some kids will forget their pre-labeled tags and won't know who to shop for)
- Have some Wal-Mart shopping bags for the kids to take their gifts home in.
I remember now that I'm thinking about it.. The brochure that they sent home with us had one end of it folded up like an envelope. On the envelope, it had a bunch of lines for the parents to list the gift recipients and their age group. You could do it like "Under 5, 6-10, 11-15, Teen, Adult" etc, or you could do "Newborn, Toddler, Youngster, Child, Teen, Adult" or something like that.. And the parents had to put their child's money in the envelope, write the gift recipients on the outside, and seal up the envelope for their child to take into school. Any change from shopping was put back in the envelope and into the child's bag to return to their parent.
Good luck with this -- I remember how much fun it was! I'll never forget the year that my little brother bought everyone a different colored rabbits foot keychain because he thought they were COOL! I thought it looked like a dead mouse. LOL And actually I used it that year for April Fools' to trick my mom into thinking there was a dead mouse in the toe of her shoe. :D