5 Work Etiquette Tips for Secret Santa Presents

With the silly season almost upon us, employees all over are getting ready to let their hair down and join in some festive fun. For most companies, the infamous Secret Santa gift exchange has been the way to go for years. Not only does it ensure everyone gets to tear open a bundled goodie on the last day of work, but it makes for a fun time – choosing names out of hat and getting into the Christmas spirit of giving.

For a lot of staff though, finding the right gift in the chosen price range can be a little bit of a challenge. When it comes to your colleagues any gift – or lack of – can be likely to send a signal of how you perceive your co-workers. You want something that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, something they will enjoy and appreciate and something thoughtful enough to build relationships with the people in your office. You want personal, but not too personal – and nothing that will create a sense of office-awkwardness or give the wrong impression to your gift receiving and everyone around!

Secret Santa-ing can be a headache in itself, but it doesn’t have to be. We delve into the best work etiquette tips for secret Santa presents to help you find something your co-workers will love.

1. Chat to Other Co-Workers


Whilst secret Santa is meant to be just that – a secret, you can still gauge a little understanding into what the person may or may not like. Communication goes hand in hand with savvy gift giving, especially if you’re new around the office so ask questions and get a general feel.

Really listening to stories the person you’re buying for can give some key indications as to what they like and don’t like. Try and pick up on the little things to help shape potential presents and get to know them before you buy the gift. Do you notice them drinking a certain brand of coffee in the mornings or are they constantly talking about their favourite sports team they go for?

2. Food and Booze Are Safe Bets


In most cases, you can’t really go wrong with food and drinks but there are still a few guidelines to watch out for. First things first, you want to ensure they are not allergic to anything or include something that offers variety. This way, if they don’t like something or unable to eat one item in there, there’s still bound to be a few things they can enjoy.

Christmas food hampers are ideal for this because they a little bit of everything. Christmas hampers that offer a selection of good quality coffee and teas can almost never go wrong, complete with some tasty snacks and goodies. If you are giving a Christmas hamper with food and alcohol, make sure you check whether you Secret Santee has any religious or emotional morals to alcohol. Wine and beer hampers can include some great items and range in price.  For something a little more flash you can opt for liqueur or champagne hampers. Gourmet cheese hampers or mini Christmas hampers can be ideal too if the budget is a little lower. 

3. Personalise the Gift, but be Professional Too


When it comes to work colleagues, there’s a fine line between a present that’s too personal. You want the gift to have a level of professionalism to it, but you want it to seem thoughtful too. Great presents don’t need to cost a fortune if you’ve demonstrated a level of appreciation – it’s just a matter of looking for the little things in your co-worker. For example, if your work colleague is renowned for losing a particular item or you have remembered details of a conversation about something they really want, giving a gift that reflects this can go a long way and bring a smile to their face.


On the flip side, some offices can be very conservative so it’s important you keep this in mind. Depending on who you have for your Secret Santee, it can be ideal to keep the gift professional by avoiding anything too personal – for example, a new coffee mug or a nice writing pen that can be their next favourite. In most cases, these gifts are appropriate and will be used and appreciated.

4. Be Careful with Humour


There’s nothing like having a few laughs with your work colleagues but when it comes to Secret Santa gifts, you have to be mindful of humour. The biggest danger of shopping for someone you don’t know well is the potential to offend them with a gift you and your friends may find fun, but may do the opposite for someone else.

To avoid this, pay attention to possible cultural clashes. Getting to know what they like and don’t like will help too and a rule of thumb is, keep the really humorous personal joke type gifts for your close friends.

5. Don’t Give Money


Cold hard cash may be a great present for you from your family, but offering it as a Secret Santa gift in the workplace is not acceptable. Not only does it show you haven’t put much thought into it, but it can really offensive to some people – especially when the budget isn’t that much.

Instead, gift cards can make a better gift alternative if you know some places they shop at. Generic gift cards for a large shopping centre where they could use it at many different stores are practical and won’t normally go to waste. Whether it’s for the Christmas food shopping, a music voucher or a new outfit for the festive season, gift cards can help go towards something they will appreciate and use.


Author Bio

Corina Mentinkis Director of Boxt.com.au, a leading online provider of Christmas hampers and gift delivery in Australia. Connect with Corina on LinkedIn.


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