How to ‘Secret Santa’ without being a Scrooge

20 December, 2016

As an apprentice you may not be use to the ‘Secret Santa’ tradition that occurs in many work places and although it may seem a little odd – it’s fairly common. Giving gifts to co-workers can prove stressful to some people, who do you gift to, what do you spend and what do you get? Don’t worry, if you follow the proper etiquette and don’t panic buy then it’s not as painful as it sounds!
Incase you don’t already know how ‘Secret Santa’ works, here’s a short description:

‘Ahead of the day that presents are given out, names of those involved are put into a hat (of the Christmas variety ideally) and then each participant draws, in secret, the name of the person for whom they'll buy a gift’.

Everyone then goes away and buys their gifts within a set budget, usually in the price range of £5-£10. Each gift is marked with the name of the recipient, but not the gift-giver.’

Here’s a little history tip for you: It's believed that the birth of the Secret Santa stems from an American chap called Larry Stewart, who through his Christmas related philanthropy, mainly handing cash out anonymously to those less fortunate during the festive period, received the nickname 'Kansas City's Secret Santa'.

So you’re probably wondering how you’re going to get through it – here’s some handy tips!

Follow the rules

If you’ve agreed a budget then stick to it as closely as possible! There’s nothing worse than receiving a present that you know is double the value that you spent, it makes the receiver feel guilty and can give the impression that you’re not a team player.

Listen for cues around the office

Team lunches or informal talks around the office can provide ideal opportunities to scope out what to buy for your ‘Secret Santa’ buddy. Listen to co-workers who mention their interests, hobbies or personal stories for cues to inform your holiday shopping.

Buy appropriate gifts

Avoid buying gag, personal, or fragrant items, which could offend others in a professional setting. The present that you buy for your co-worker could have an impact on how others see you if you buy something offensive so try to use some common sense when picking your gift.

Avoid alcohol

It is also best to stay clear of alcohol, especially in diverse work groups. Gifts of this nature could cause embarrassment, or put you and the receiver in an uncomfortable situation.

Be appreciative of your gift

Some people buy fantastic presents and some people don’t – regardless of if you like the present you receive you should always show thanks to your colleagues. The worst thing you could do is to talk to others about how unhappy you are with that you received.

Have fun!

Most importantly, Christmas and the festivities that come with it is suppose to be fun so try not to get too caught up with the pressures it brings. Enjoy the light heartedness of the tradition and just be thankful you don’t have to buy a gift for every member of your team!


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