It’s the first week of December. Sue from accounts has started playing Mariah Carey on repeat, John from legal has volunteered to organise the company do (because he plays in a terrible band that no-one likes - who will be headlining the event), Jane from admin has sent a calendar invitation for a Christmas jumper day (which no-one dares to decline because Jane holds a grudge like a teenager and only people she likes get to book the meeting room) and Dave the work experience student has been sent into the storage room to dig out the Christmas tree from underneath a pile of photocopier paper, over-ordered branded folders that no-one knows what to do with, a box of wires for equipment the company sold in 1998 and an inflatable body part that Mike from sales thought would be ‘funny’ to have in the office (it wasn’t).
There’s just one thing left to organise – the office Secret Santa. The annual ritual of pulling a name from a slightly grubby Santa hat and hoping it’s someone you’ve actually heard of (or, better still, someone you can bear being in the same room with long enough to give them the badly-wrapped, slightly stained ‘Best Colleague’ mug you got given somewhat passive aggressively last year).
But don’t worry!
This year we thought we’d help you out so your gift is the one everyone is talking about at the office do (while John and his band murder the Rolling Stones).
Let’s break down your options.
1. The funny gift
The go-to Secret Santa gift is usually something funny or tongue-in-cheek. You might want to think carefully before you go down the rude gift route though – just because you personally might like a mouse pad with full-frontal nudity, not everyone would appreciate it. You can go for funny without being contentious – a desk Henry hoover for the neat freak, a novelty bottle opener, a funny board or card game, silly hats or socks, a personalised Christmas tree bauble, a ‘phone jail’ for the person who’s permanently attached to their mobile. You could even combine funny with practical – like Christmas pudding bin bags for the big Christmas clear up! Just be sure your gift isn’t offensive and you can’t go too far wrong.
2. The practical gift
Think desk stationery, lunchboxes, drawer organisers, reusable drinks bottles, calendars and other useful bits. Even things like socks, scarves or gloves are fairly inexpensive and practical gifts. People always think their Secret Santa gift should be funny – but if you’re buying for someone you don’t know well or someone who would much prefer a useful present than a joke, then something practical is your best bet. And if you’re really stumped (or don’t know them that well at all), a vague, inoffensive gift voucher is actually a great gift – if you go for something like Amazon, they can spend it on whatever mystery interests they have.
3. The luxury gift
If your Secret Santa recipient is someone who knows all about the finer things in life (or at least pretends they do), you might want to think about getting them something that looks good. Beautifully-designed stationery, an indulgent hand cream, scented candles, a luxury coin purse, a make-up bag. If you know them well, you’ll know their style. If you don’t, you can probably get an idea of the sorts of things they’d like from a quick walk-by their desk – just don’t hover too long (or too close) behind them or it might get a bit weird.
4. The edible (or drinkable) gift
You really can’t go wrong with buying something to eat or drink. Unless you get something they’re allergic to or give a bottle of wine to a teetotaller. But assuming your Secret Santa recipient doesn’t have any widely known allergies or aversions, it’s a fairly safe bet to buy beer, wine or chocolates. But the list goes on – cocktail guides, recipe books, aprons, tea-infusers, personalised Dairy Milk bars, novelty sweets, a tin of all their favourite biscuits, a selection of unusual coffees. If your person is a foodie, you’re in luck. And let’s face it, who isn’t a foodie? We’ve not met anyone who’d turn down a decent drink or a sugary snack (but that might say more about the type of people we all hang out with).
5. The giving gift
But what about that person who has more charitable or environmental interests? The great thing is that you can do good through giving and they’ll love you for it. You could make a donation to charity (especially if it’s one you know they support) and give them a card saying how the money will be used. You could adopt an animal in their name or sponsor a child. If you want to give them something physical to open, how about a bee garden, a t-shirt or book whose profits go to charity or an ethical gift box (where all the treats are from sustainable, local companies)?
From all of us at Amber Employment Services, good luck with your Secret Santa shopping! And remember – if you need to find a new job after your Secret Santa recipient takes out a restraining order, give us a call!