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Playing Secret Santa has become a tradition in many offices throughout the world, but under the candy-coloured wrapping paper and Rudolph-theme ribbons lie a stressful task.
As office Christmas parties draw near, I have seen more than a handful of friends and colleagues freak out over what to buy their gift recipient.
So in the spirit of Christmas, here is a short and sweet list to hopefully help you streamline gift ideas for you colleagues.
Keep it professional
What may be funny to you could be very offensive to someone else. Unless you’re really close mates with your gift recipient, we would advise you stay clear of anything too cheeky or controversial.
This is particularly important to remember if you don’t know who your recipient is; there are few things less awkward than your boss finding out that adult-only board game was from you.
Stay in budget
Companies usually encourage employees to stick within a set budget. It may be tempting to splurge or get carried away, especially if you’re fond of your recipient, but giving a gift too extravagant can come across as a bit flashy. If you really want to buy something special for your colleague(s), present those gifts privately.
You may be one of the few unlucky ones to pick a recipient you are not close to. While there is always the option of buying a “safe” gift such as a photo frame, portable speakers or a yearly planner, everyone appreciates a gift which has been given some thought.
Pay closer attention to their daily routine (do they drink coffee or tea?), casually hang out by their desks to see if there are any giveaways (are their desks covered with movie memorabilia?) or just discreetly ask someone they’re close to or work well with.
Do not recycle gifts
This is a faux pas and will only make you look like a cheapskate if you’re found out to have gifted a hard drive or bottle of wine given to you at a previous party.
If the company gift budget has really been set to high, think of a more personalised gift (see point above again) and stick to the motto of “less is more”. A good book by your recipient’s favourite author or a portable phone charger for the co-worker always complaining of a flat battery goes a long way.
Don’t over think it
At the end of the day, Secret Santa is a lighthearted and fun way to get the office together, show gratitude for the team you work with, and have a laugh. So, don’t fret too much – it’s really the thought that counts.
PS: To my Secret Santa this year, I wasn’t kidding about wanting a personal coffee machine behind my desk. Thanks in advance.