How to ace Secret Santa

It’s that time of year again. The nights are getting colder, your heating bills are going up and the shops have been playing Christmas music since October.

Christmas time can be a minefield. On top of getting presents for your loved ones, you have the added pressure of the office Secret Santa.

Sure, you could just refuse to take part, but you’ve worked hard all year to forge connections with your colleagues and you don’t want to ruin that by looking like Scrooge.

Fear not – follow our tips and you’ll be the Secret Santa hero for sure.

  1. Take part
    Secret Santa can be a clever way to paint yourself as a team player and show that you are willing to take part in non-work related activities. Plus, it’s just a bit of fun. However, if you really dislike all things Christmas then luckily for you it’s not mandatory and you can politely decline.
  2. Stick to the price limit
    Price limits are set for a reason. You can be flexible, but be wary about underspending. Spending £3 on a gift when you receive a £10 gift can rattle some peoples cages and even hint at favouritism. Conversely, overspending can also spell trouble as it won’t be looked up kindly by other colleagues. A price limit levels the playing field and although it can be a difficult marker to hit, it’s always worth it in the end.
  3. Put some thought into it
    Nobody likes last minute presents. Choose a gift that speaks to who they are as a person. Are they a foodie? A gamer? A stationary lover? Etc… If you don’t know anything about the person, take a look at their social media accounts for inspiration or as a last resort ask for some advice from their office bestie.
  4. Steer clear of personal hygiene products
    Even if you mean it harmlessly, any gift that reflects personal hygiene could offend the person and think your gift is a hint. You certainly didn’t take part in Secret Santa to offend a colleague! Unless its specifically on their wish list, avoid generic hygiene products such as Shower Kits and the ever-dreaded Lynx set.
  5. Funny or offensive?
    Humorous and funny gifts are a staple of Secret Santa and can help create rapport with your colleague in a non-work manner. However, unless you know the person well, think twice before choosing a funny gift as you don’t want to offend them.

    TIP – Bear in mind you are still in a professional environment, so no rude or abusive presents even if it’s meant as a joke.

  6. With a cherry on top
    Once you’ve picked the perfect gift, make sure its nicely wrapped and doesn’t look like a last-minute rush job. Festive wrapping paper is really in the spirit of Secret Santa and a ribbon or bow never hurt anyone. If you are terrible at wrapping and want it to look more presentable than you can achieve, a simple gift bag sealed at the top works too. Don’t forget to add a gift tag to identify who it’s for! (if you’re feeling extra sneaky, you could even ask a family member to write the tag so they don’t guess your hand writing)
  7. ‘I love it, how did you know?’
    Arguably the most important thing on this list – pretend to love your gift even if you hate it. When it comes to the gift exchange, ensure you don’t fall short after all the hard work you put into the gift buying. Whether it’s a hideous jumper or a bottle of your least favourite wine, embrace your inner PR Guru and paint yourself as a happy team player – you don’t want to look ungrateful in front of your colleagues.
  8. Another man’s treasure
    So, you’ve safely made it through the minefield that is Secret Santa and came out on top. There’s just one last thing from us before the student becomes the teacher – Never re-gift a present from last year’s gift exchange! It seems obvious, but believe me it happens, and your colleagues will notice.

That’s it from us. Follow our tips and you’ll be the Secret Santa hero in no time.

For more career advice, check out the WMJobs career advice library.

Article by Illesse Uppal, Marketing Adviser, West Midlands Employers

(Find our more about Illesse here)

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