Don’t be fooled by this seemingly harmless holiday tradition, Secret Santa can be a minefield of office politics, passive aggression and poor judgement calls. Keep your reputation and work friendships in tact by following our step-by-step guide to buying an appropriate gift.
Sleigh your Secret Santa this year (No regrets)
Step 1: Stick to the budget
Going marginally over the suggested spend is not a big deal but don’t be the guy that spends 3 times the budget on a gift for a coworker. At best you’ll look like a showy try hard, at worst you’ll look like you’re harbouring a secret and all consuming love for Keith from accounts.
Step 2: Don’t overdo it
If you happen to draw one of your close work friends for Secret Santa, feel free to invest time and effort into making them a sentimental and thoughtful gift, representative of your many happy times together. If you do not draw a close friend please refrain from making a photo album, scrapbook or collection of poems detailing your very special acquaintance. If you want to give a personalised gift that shows you know the recipient, a good rule of thumb is to stick to something you’ve actually discussed with them. It might be a mug because you know they like coffee or a water bottle because you know they go to the gym. You may even look to social media for clues about their hobbies. If you find yourself watching their Ice Bucket Challenge to find out what their favourite colour is you’ve gone too far.
Step 3: Don’t be offensive
Nothing sexual, nothing overly suggestive, nothing that relates to a person’s weight, age, gender or sexuality and above all no novelty underwear. If any of these directions confuse or annoy you, remove yourself from the Secret Santa festivities altogether and possibly find a job which requires little to no human interaction.
Step 4: Check the details
In larger companies, it’s common to end up buying a gift for someone you don’t know or have had very minimal dealings with. If this is the case be sure that you’ve got their name correct (including the spelling) and have an idea of their role in the company. Also be sure you know the protocol around wrapping the gift, giving a card and the time of exchange. The devil is in the detail.