The Complete Guide to Secret Santa for the Office

Whether you like it or not, Christmas is slowly but surely sneaking up on us.  There’s not just the stress of Christmas puddings and soggy sprouts either.  With the festive period just around the corner, soon the dreaded words ‘Secret Santa’ will be sent around in the office email.  Now you know I’m kind to you guys so here it is, the complete guide to Secret Santa gifting – the office edition.

In case you aren’t familiar with this popular holiday tradition (where have you been hiding?) it rolls round every Christmas time and is particularly favoured with groups of friends or office colleagues.  You basically pick a name out of a hat and when the time comes, you surprise your recipient with a gift.

The problem is, with all the good cheer that Christmas brings, the Secret Santa tradition can often lead to some extremely un-merry and rather uninspired gifting.  Whether it is the inappropriate gift that was meant to be funny or the OOT gift which makes everyone else in the office look bad, Secret Santa can sometimes go terribly wrong.  So without further ado, here are some tips and tricks to ensure you find the perfect gift for your co-worker…

Follow the Rules

There is always one person in the office who decides to ignore the rules and spend more than the $20 limit that is set.  If you’ve seen The Office US then you will be more than familiar with this situation.  An oven mitt is swapped for an iPod – you can imagine the anger and frustration.

Don’t derail the rules to make yourself feel good because ultimately, it will end in tears.  Don’t outshine your colleagues because they won’t appreciate it plus you will make the recipient feel guilty for not returning the favour.

Show Some Creativity

The monetary value of the gift ensures that everyone is on the same lines but that doesn’t mean to say that you can’t get creative with your gift.  Being creative is an option to help make the price limit go a long way.  

Going down the ‘normal’ route seems all too easy as more and more shops start selling festive gifts.  Plus, where’s the fun in that?  Shop around and be prepared to get your hands dirty.  Trust me, the recipient will be more grateful with that then they would be with a £20 gift card.


No matter how much you hope and wish to pull out your best buddy’s name, the chances are that you will choose someone who you hardly speak to.  You’re tasked with finding a good gift for a complete stranger….what to do now?

Instead of staring blankly at the Google search screen, ask around for some advice.  Chances are that at least one person knows something about them and if not, ask someone who sits near them at lunch. “Well, I know Jack is a big coffee lover so maybe something coffee related would make a good gift?” Done.

Have you got any stories from Secret Santa has gone wrong (or right)?  Leave a comment below, I do love a good laugh!



  1. My MIL was the best secret Santa. Every year she would find a hideously tacky picture frame and include a picture of herself in the frame. She would then act surprised that her picture was there. Everyone put up a fight to keep it. She was a funny lady.

  2. Christy Martin says

    Worst gift was a pair of horrible purple leather gloves with a ruffle from wrist to pinky. They were too big and fit like dishgloves. At the time I was working in a fashion accessories company, product development & purchasing. I had these gloves made, I oversaw numerous revisions and approvals from the client and basically dealt with these things ugly, impractical things for 6 months and probably had 10 pairs sitting behind my desk. Whomever was my Secret Santa, had purchased them at our warehouse sale as a "sample" and they were not $20, I might have ordered under $5 and never cared to see them again. Doubting they sold any at store level.

  3. magnoliaripkin says

    If I get one more set of snowman tea towels somebody is going to have to have them surgically removed

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