26 Nov 2019

The etiquette of the work Secret Santa

It's the most wonderful time of the year, with one exception: the workplace Secret Santa. Whether the prospect of buying a present for your boss fills you with horror, or you're notoriously bad at feigning enthusiasm for something you hate, here are our top five tips for surviving this social and professional pitfall:

1. Don't stint

A budget should be treated as an approximate rather than a maximum. A colleague may justifiably resent receiving a Poundshop snow globe when you're supposed to have spent a tenner.

2. But don't be too lavish either

It's fine to overspend slightly on something you know the recipient will love, but blowing twice the budget on a bottle of champagne smacks of sucking up, especially if you're buying for someone senior to you.

3. Make it personal

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours with our colleagues, so it's likely that you'll have an idea of their hobbies and family life. Bearing these in mind when choosing a Secret Santa present – buying a sketchpad and pencils for an art-lover, for example – shows you've put thought into it.

4. Beware the 'joke' gift

A team present-opening session is not the place to revive an in-joke you've shared with a co-worker. Spare a thought for their professional persona – as well as your own – before wrapping up those furry handcuffs.

5. Play it safe

If you really have no idea what to buy someone, play it safe with a good bottle of booze (as long as you're sure they drink alcohol), the latest bestseller or a box of fine chocolates.

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