It’s that time of year again - choosing gifts, names out of hats and debates over whether Christmas music in the supermarkets is the best thing since sliced bread or should be outlawed completely. But there’s one more debate, which we can settle today: the Ultimate Rules for Secret Santa. Consider this the bible for blind Christmas gift exchanges (no pun intended) and not only will your Secret Santa be successful, but highly enjoyable too!
1. Set a Fair Budget and Stick to it.
The question of how much money to spend on a gift can drive people mad, but that’s not the biggest issue here. Rather, different people have different budgets and circumstances and you should, as the first Secret Santa Rule, set a reasonable budget for everyone to keep to. £10 or 15€ is a great upper limit for an office Secret Santa.
But as well as the organiser setting the budget, you as a participant have to stick to it. Even if it’s not showing off, but you just want to spend more on that “amazing gift” you found online and you "really don’t mind", think of your coworkers who, although they won’t say anything, may feel embarrassed by their smaller gift.
2. Keep it Simple, Sweetheart
Ever had a great idea that turns out to be a lot of work? If you find yourself getting frustrated or spending a lot of time due to the complexity of your gift, it’s not the right one. Keeping it simple again won’t embarrass any coworkers, but also won’t lead to awkward moments where it could seem overly affectionate.
3) Know the Boundaries
First things first, anything that could be construed as romantic is off-limits. Boxes of chocolates if you’re stuck for ideas are OK, but the best way is to go for something funny and something that you wouldn’t buy for a partner. So no perfumes, hearts and definitely no lingerie.
Clothes are an absolute no-go, as size can be a sensitive topic, with the sole exception of one size objects such as wooly hats, ties, mittens and scarves. Even a jumper can offend unintentionally, so play it safe.
4) Take it with a pinch of salt
At the same time, if you’re on the receiving end of a gift that’s totally wrong, remember that it probably wasn’t intentional. The giver probably spent a lot of time trying to find something and made a mistake - but with good intentions and in good spirit, so keep it that way. They bought you cookies, but you’re gluten free? Thank them and later pass it onto a friend. They bought you a jumper that would never, ever fit? Firstly, they should have read number 3 and secondly, they didn’t mean any harm, they just don’t have the right eye.
5) Remember, it’s not about the gifts
Shock horror - Secret Santa is not about the gifts! If it was, we’d all be failing miserably and Amazon Gift Cards would be the way to go. Secret Santa is about the excitement of opening your surprise; about watching your giftee do the same. It’s about the funny exchanges and the general mood around Christmas time (if you couldn’t already tell, it’s a Jewish writer here but I love the December mood ❤). So don’t give cash, don’t worry too much and don’t let the pressure ruin it for you. If you’re not having fun, the point has been missed.
6) Don’t expect anything in particular
If you set your expectations too high, you’re likely to be disappointed. Instead, ensure in advance that you’ll be happy with a small gift, that’s essentially a generic gesture by someone who doesn’t know you particularly well. If, instead, you receive something personal and significant, that’s wonderful - but not what you should expect.
7) Don’t forget
Don’t forget or neglect Secret Santa! Whilst the gift is not important, the effort and the gesture is. It helps to foster a team spirit, brings joy to your coworkers and improves your relationships. So make it a priority to put time and effort into getting the right gift for your giftee.
8) If In Doubt, Fall Back on Humour, Personal and Handmade
Humour always works well - as long as everyone finds it funny and it’s not potentially offensive, it’s a likely success.
Failing that, something personalised - a mug or calendar with a photo, easily ordered online.
If you’re not that close with the person so you can’t personalise it and you’re struggling for an appropriate humorous gift, then make something by hand - whether it’s cookies or knitwear, the extra effort is the ultimate gesture.
OneCoWork Members - follow the link below for our 2018 Secret Santa exchanges!
OneCoWork Marina Port Vell - tinyurl.com/OCW-santa
OneCoWork Plaça Catalunya - tinyurl.com/OCW-secretsanta