Five tips for a successful Secret Santa

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Several little boxes tumbling out of a Santa’s sack, with the words ‘Secret Santa’ on it.

Updated 13th November 2020.

Christmas fever has well and truly hit the UK – lights have been turned on across the country, baubles and tinsel are everywhere and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You is on repeat.

The festive season also means Secret Santa is once again upon us. A study from Love Energy Savings found that 68% of British workers are happy participating in the popular gifting trend¹. It can contribute to the positive morale in the office and add to any workplace benefits you might already be offering employees at this time of year.

There is, however, some debate about how much employees would like to spend. Around one in five were happy to spend £10, while 17% believed £20 was a reasonable amount. With so many differing opinions, conducting an activity that employees will actually enjoy can be harder than first thought.

Here are some tips to ensure your Secret Santa efforts are as successful as can be:

1. Don’t make it compulsory

Making activities like these compulsory can add unwanted stress to a colleague’s schedule and trigger office politics. While every employee should be invited to participate, making opting out easy and anonymous will mean there’s no pressure if individuals decide it’s not for them. It also means no-one ends up with a dud gift as everyone has voluntarily chosen to take part and isn’t left grasping at straws at the last minute.

2. Set a budget

As the aforementioned statistics reveal, Brits have varying ideas on how much to spend on Secret Santa. Keep things streamlined with a budget ensures there’s not an imbalance in spending and employees don’t feel excluded. It’s worth ensuring the designated amount is achievable for all participants as well – setting the budget too high could make things awkward.

3. Consider a wish list or questionnaire

In larger organisations, knowing what to buy for a colleague can be daunting. Offering the option of filling out a short questionnaire or nominating a wish list can take the stress out of gifting and ensure the allocated budget isn’t wasted on a present that the receiver doesn’t like or use. It’s also worth reminding all employees that gifts could be opened publicly and as such, should be appropriately chosen.

4. Don’t leave it to the last minute

December is notoriously busy in workplaces, so it’s best to get in early. Consider sending out the initial invite in November, leaving plenty of time for withdrawals, the drawing of names and gift sourcing.

It’s also worth scheduling reminders as you inch closer to the exchange date to make sure no-one is left behind. Sending out an email or company-wide message two weeks, a week and then a few days before will hopefully reduce any frantic last-minute purchases.

5. Get some help

There are plenty of free programs that can make a gift exchange easier., Secret Santa Organiser, Elfster and Sneaky Santa are all free online resources that can automatically arrange the distribution of names amongst offices. Just enter the email addresses of the participants and let the automated programs work their magic. Some programs also include the possibility of adding wish lists and gift suggestions, making the entire process even easier.

Need Christmas gift inspiration? Here’s where you can find something guaranteed to please:

Amazon – the expansive online marketplace has everything from a Star Wars joke book to cardboard cut-outs of famous celebrities.

Notonthehighstreet– this online emporium holds plenty of left-of-centre gifts for those looking for something off high street

Etsy – need something even more niche? Etsy is your go-to. With plenty of unique and home-made goods, it will have something for every colleague

IWOOT – standing for I Want One of Those, the gift website has every quirky gift you can think of – and those you can’t.

No time for Secret Santa? Need more help in the office? Get in touch with Tiger today to find out how we can help.


Author Tiger Contributor Tiger Recruitment Team

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