As if it isn’t bad enough that you’ve got to shop for your large extended family this year, cook a 5 course Christmas dinner and generally entertain the kids for the best part of a week with a total of £5 before you can bundle them back to school in the new year, some twonk in the office has decided everybody in your department should do Secret bloody Santa.
They think they’re being helpful and budget conscious by suggesting a limit for everyone of only £10 but in your opinion this just ups the difficulty rating and so you’re currently hiding in the office stationery cupboard stress eating a sandwich you’ve half inched from the kitchen fridge, called “Kevin” while trying to figure out what the eff to buy Carol who has said a sum total of 3 words to you since she started at the beginning of February. Terrific.
Ok, don’t panic team. We’ve got you. Here’s your foolproof guide to Secret Santa shopping and gift giving in the workplace.
It’s NEVER secret. Someone somewhere in the office will know who has given what to whom. You will be found out if you send something offensive or questionable. The sanctity of the gifting will be immediately blown wide apart if someone complains to HR. If you’re really that hard up for ideas, shun Ann Summers for Body Shop basket every time. You’ll thank us!
There’s always one office joker who thinks it’s hilarious to wrap their secret Santa gift in the latest page 3 from the Sun or “bouncy boobies” printed giftwrap or even gone one step further and bought wrapping paper with swear words etc. printed on it. How old are you? Those antics should have been left behind in the school common room.
Going over the limit
Always a sticky wicket, this one. A couple of quid over for something that you know the recipient would really like or appreciate is a sound investment and will be understood if questioned, depending on how militant the one organising it is. Anything more than a couple of quid over and you could be running the risk of being accused of brownnosing, especially if you’ve pulled the boss’ name out of the hat.
It’s irrelevant whether you can afford it not. Turning up to work with the latest iPhone and a flash car is one thing, but blatantly flaunting your wealth in secret Santa? Crass. You’ll be resented for it and will invite comment on your pay packet from every Tom, Dick and Sally in the office.
If you wish to buy something like that for the person concerned, feel free to do so, but do it over and above the secret Santa stuff, make it clear it’s from you and we’d suggest giving it at a quiet time in the office when not many are around.
Not rising to the limit
Just as if you go over the limit, you’ll cause problems, you’ll unleash the same type of hell upon yourself if you cheap out and get something from Dealz. You will be found out so don’t even try it. Regifting can also be a risky business. If you cannot remember who gave you the gift or where it’s from, massive swerve or you’ll probably find you’ve given last year’s Secret Santa from the same office to someone else. Same story with anything you’ve won or been sent as a free gift with a promotion. Someone else will spot it for what it is a mile off and you’ll be known as cheap.
Gifting handmade items
This is a toughie. We have some extremely talented artists and crafters on the island so if this is you and you know your recipient would love something that you’ve made and sold previously, then feel free.
It would seem with handmade stuff that the rule about “going over” the amount is void so you’re safe there. It’s not a good idea to gift something you’ve made if you’ve had a drunken Blue Peter moment and your model of Tracy Island complete with a Muller Rice launchpad for Thunderbird 3 still bears the remnants of last night’s cheeky treat that you abandoned in front of the telly during the eating task of “I’m a Celebrity”.
General Etiquette – leading up to the event
Don’t forget. As soon as you pull the name of your recipient, shop for their gift so it’s done. Don’t end up with the organiser chasing you for your gift. Although you may think it’s just an inconvenience, no doubt it’s the organisers pet project, secret lifelong ambition and they’ve been looking forward to wielding this small wedge of power all year long.
Don’t invite their hatred for the next year for not bowing to their clipboard wielding authority and understanding your role in this enforced fun. Also, try your hardest to not breach the sacred covenant of the secrecy or you’ll “ruin it for everyone”. Everyone else probably can’t be arsed with doing it either which will only make everyone feel like they have even more right to be pissed off at you if you screw it up.
General Etiquette – when all presents are given out
Even if you’ve followed all the rules here along with your gifter, lets face it, there’s still going to be a strong chance you will not like your gift, because not even your Husband of 20 years has got it right and you’re still debating whether to cave his head in with the cordless Dyson he got you last year.
Try and pull the old “I’ll open it on Christmas Day” swerve and take it home with you instead of opening it in front of everyone. Unfortunately, most organisers are wise to that one, so if all else fails, adopt the Dr. Sheldon Cooper Koala face and embrace this non optional social convention.