Secret Santa Etiquette

Secret Santa is an annual Christmas tradition played amongst friends, family and co-workers around the world. But while great fun and designed to be lighthearted and uplifting, these gift exchanges can be a source of awkwardness, anxiety and outright panic.

I came across this Secret Santa survey by Hawkins Bazaar which revealed that 74% of people enjoy finding a Secret Santa gift, but I personally find the whole process incredibly stressful. I’m a perfectionist and a self-confessed control freak, so the prospect of hunting down an impressive – but not too expensive – gift for a randomly selected person is not something I particularly enjoy.

Most Secret Santa’s take place in the office -42% to be precise – and I don’t know about anyone else, but when I worked an office environment, I used to dread taking part in the annual Secret Santa. It was alright if luck was on my side and paired me up with the bestie, but if I was paired up with someone like the boss or the IT guy I’d never spoken to…my heart would literally sink.

Secret Santa

According to the survey conducted by Hawkins Bazaar, 9% of participants thought that the gift they received was utterly pointless and I guess that it what my ultimate fear is – that the recipient would be disappointed, unhappy or even offended by what I had purchased for them.

I’m not completely against the idea of Secret Santa. I think they can be a great way to boost morale and encourage comradery amongst co-workers, but they need to be done properly. So here are a few of my “Do’s and Don’ts” for Secret Santa’s in the office.

Do: Participate

The point of Secret Santa is to help unite colleagues and foster team work, so even if you’re feeling more like the Grinch than Father Christmas this holiday season, participate anyway because you don’t want to come across as someone who isn’t a team player.

Don’t: Force participation

Secret Santa should be optional, not compulsory. Be mindful that some people may not have the funds available to participate or may come from a religion that prevents them from being able to take part.

Do: Set a budget

Bear in mind that some people may not have factored Secret Santa into their Christmas gifts budget so set a price limit that is low and affordable. 87% of Secret Santa budgets are under £10.

Don’t: Go over budget

No-one likes a show-off, especially when it comes to Secret Santa, so even if you think the budget is too low – stick to it! Buying a gift that is extravagant and clearly over the price limit will only make others feel lousy about their own choice in gifts.

Do: Try and find out about your recipient

If you are organising a Secret Santa in a large office where many co-workers do not know each other, consider putting together a small questionnaire to help them become better acquainted. Questions relating to favourite hobbies, favourite cuisine, favourite Christmas treats, likes/dislikes etc. will help gift givers get something their recipient will actually enjoy.

Don’t: Get gifts that are personal

Avoid personal items such as perfume or jewellery that could be considered romantic, especially if given from a male to a female colleague. Stick to generic gifts such as a chocolate, scarf, mittens, candles, picture frame, novelty gifts, stationery etc.

Do: Say thank you

Even if you don’t like your Secret Santa gift, you should always say thank you as a token of your appreciation.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post

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