Dos and Don’ts of the Office Secret Santa

Santa Claus is coming to town and he’s going to find out who’s naughty and who’s nice when it comes to the office Secret Santa. Secret Santa has the ability to strike more fear into us than expecting to host 24 for Christmas lunch with a broken stove. There are political landscapes to navigate, concerns about budgets, offending and reciprocation. So here are our top dos and don’ts when it comes to the office Secret Santa.

Do: Set some rules

No, we’re not being Bah Humbug, but rules are a good thing when it comes to Secret Santa. They set out the expectations, meaning everyone is more likely to be happy in the end.

The most important rule should be the price limit. This should be clear and communicated to everyone well in advance of any purchasing. £8 – £10 is an ideal amount. It’s enough to get something worthwhile, but not too much to be too much of a burden to anyone.

Do: Follow the rules

For the love of Santa, the rules are there for a very good reason. Stick to them. Remember, these are colleagues, not family, or even friends, who will forgive your whimsical ways. Following the rules ensures everyone’s expectations are met, and then everyone is happy or at least, unoffended.

Do: Join in

Secret Santa should be voluntary. No one should feel strong-armed in to participating. However, consider the Secret Santa as a bit of fun and a team-building opportunity. Don’t view it as the means to you getting your favourite ever gift. So join in, but be realistic.

You also want to make sure that you come out of this exercise looking like a good sport and a team player.

If you’re the boss, make sure you’re in charge here too. That means making sure you have one or two generic extra wrapped gifts for the wotsit who was too lazy to get their own. The last thing you want is a disgruntled recipient on your watch. If they aren’t needed, you can use them to thank your postie or kid’s club leaders.

Do: Be thankful

The gift may not wow you, you may not know who bought it, but don’t forget your manners. Behind the gift is likely to be someone who tried their best, and at the very least put time, thought and cash in to it.

Even if you can’t genuinely muster up enthusiasm for the 19th executive desk toy – act. It matters.

Do: Put some effort in

Secret Santas tend to fail and be disappointing when approached in a lackadaisical way without much care, thought and time. With a set budget, online shopping can be your solution here.

Think about the recipient and their hobbies and personality. Choose a gift that shows you’ve actually thought of them, rather than simply buying a generic bottle of wine for a tea-totaller. If you don’t know them well then go and do some detective work.

Don’t: Be Scrooge

Seriously, the lingering feeling of being the Chrimbo Scrooge will last way in to the New Year and beyond. If there’s a budget, hunt around to find something that is coming in at, or just under, that amount. Your recipient isn’t going to be best pleased opening a £3 box of chocs when you’ve been gifted something personal at the full whack. Be considerate.

Don’t: Hide behind anonymity

Let’s face it, it doesn’t take long to quickly work out who is who when it comes to a Secret Santa. Don’t want to be forever brandished as Scrooge, sucker, stingy, thoughtless or crude? Then simply don’t use anonymity as an excuse to ignore all the other dos and don’ts.

Laziness will stick out like a sore thumb whether this is secret or not, so put some effort in.

Don’t: Make jokes without real care

Your colleagues may tolerate your sense of humour, but that doesn’t mean they enjoy it. The usual working environment is not the place to show your hilarious attempt at crude humour with the office prude. At best it’s unkind and thoughtless, at worst it’s harassment. Save those oh-so-funny gifts for your pub mates. You want smiles on faces, not grievance procedures starting from HR.

Don’t: Make it in to anything it’s not

Secret Santa isn’t the time to impress your boss, convey the message that you’d like someone to use post-it notes, or confess undying love. No. Just no. Secret Santa actually works best when it is straightforward without any ulterior motives.

Don’t: Take it too seriously

Remember, that there’s no point in tangling yourself up in tinsel. This is meant to be a light-hearted bit of fun. Nothing more, nothing less. So try not to take it too seriously, but do give it more than a cursory glance.

Secret Santa can be a great experience for everyone, and a bit of festive jolly as we head in to the Christmas season. Just follow the dos and don’ts and your Secret Santa really will be rockin’ around the Christmas tree, rather than singing along with melancholy to Last Christmas.

If you are organising a Christmas inspired staff event at your place of work, why not download our Christmas quiz to enjoy with your colleuages?  You can download it here.