Gel is an intermediate phase of solid and liquid, which exhibits properties of both, and this unique feature of gel has made it an excellent choice as a reaction medium for the nanomaterials synthesis. Herein, we report use of oil swollen surfactant gels as reaction medium and exfoliation medium, for the synthesis of metals (Au, Ag) nanoparticles and graphene, respectively. Confined growth of metals (Au and Ag) nanoparticles, has been achieved by exploring tween 80 based surfactant gel as a reaction medium. Au NPs prepared within tween 80 gel were found to be spherical with size ~5 nm, arranged in template micelles. Heating triggered the growth of Au nanoparticles and particles of various shapes including triangles, rods and pentagonal, were produced. Au and Ag containing tween 80 gels were found to be promising as catalysts for the nitrophenol reduction. Apart from separate synthesis of Au and Ag nanoparticles, bimetallic (Au-Ag) nanoparticles have also been synthesized by taking advantage of selective reducing property of tween 80. First time CTAB gel has been utilized as an exfoliation medium for the quick exfoliation of graphite into graphene sheets, eliminating the necessity of any external driving force such as sonication or heating, to reinforce exfoliation. © 2016 Elsevier Inc.