Next week marks the beginning of many holiday events across America, including the Secret Santa gift exchange. Dreaded by many, loved by a few, and terrible gifts by all, Secret Santa is one holiday tradition many will have to face.
The Secret Santa gift can mean a lot of office laughs for many but also public embarrassment for others. Before taking the Secret Santa gift run, it’s best to pour a glass of eggnog, hide your credit card, and read these Secret Santa tips.
1. Secret Santa is a Holiday Gift (not a religious one)
While Christmas is arguably more commercial than Hanukkah or Kwanza, in most American cities this is still a religious holiday. Never assume Christmas is celebrated by all. Focus on gifts which engage the holiday spirit and friendship. Avoid the religious aspect at your workplace, no matter what the department stores are whispering as you walk down the aisles.
2. Save the Love
Have a crush on a co-worker and pulled their name from the Secret Santa hat? The socially awkward may think this a sign from Santa that he is going to bring you together this holiday season. The Secret Santa gift is never a place to buy an intimate gift for a co-worker. Not only will the Grinch in HR possibly reprimand you with some kind of holiday sexual harassment seminar, but the giving of the gift may just publicly embarrass you and your imaginary future spouse, shutting down all avenues to sharing stockings in the future.
3. Stay Under Budget
Everyone loves chocolate covered strawberries aboard a private jet, but Secret Santa is all about small gifts. If you want to stand out from a crowd, use your mind and be creative. If the budget is $20, do not spend $30 – unless you are the boss and make the rules…no one really likes you anyway.
4. Self Promotion is Like Black Coal
Do people really need a reminder on this? Ok, we know you are a real estate agent, we know we can get cheap car insurance through your firm, and if we ever need cosmetics, your number is by the water cooler. ANY gift which involves your picture and a phone number to call for a service is probably not going to go over well. We know your cool glossy paper calendar cost the Secret Santa $20 budget, but no one wants your picture on their fridge.
5. Remember All Secret Santa Gifts Are…
You can insert your own word here, but the key is to remember that more people take secret Santa gifts as humorous. You are not going to get a raise, a vacation to Barbados, and quite likely are going to receive something just as bad as the gift you purchased for your Secret Santa. If the joy of gift giving eludes you on secret Santa day, drink some eggnog.
The holidays are about giving and not receiving. So don’t forget that Secret Santa is all about fun and sharing the holiday spirit with co-workers. It is not about religion, competition or even about work. Otherwise, it’s probably a good idea to stay home on Secret Santa day or find out where the other “sick” people are and join in their fun.
Guest contributor Alan Dunn is a Serial Entrepreneur, Licensed Mortgage Broker and publisher of various consumer education websites, including a site with tips on how to save money and a cool site for drivers to compare car insurance. He is a fan of luxury cars but commutes more often to the coffee maker than an office.