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Festivities are starting to take shape across the US – the Christmas lights have been switched on and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You is defrosting as we speak.
The festive season also means that the classic Secret Santa gift swap is upon us once again. Gifting presents to co-workers can contribute to positive morale in the office and add an extra bit of excitement alongside any workplace benefits you might already be offering employees at this time of year.
However, though there are many positives to the concept, there can also be some drawbacks. A recent study found that 58% of Americans are planning to forego spending money on gifts for their colleagues this year. With consumer pressures and the rising cost-of-living; it’s easy to understand why some employees are less than enthusiastic about the gift giving traditions at the office.
There is also some debate about how much employees would like to spend. Many employees will no doubt have different expectations of what the cost might be, and may feel anxious if the price point is more than expected. According to research, the average employee spends $25 for co-workers and $30 on a gift for the boss.
So if you are going to kick off the festive season with a gift-giving initiative, it’s important to take the right approach.
Here are some tips to ensure your Secret Santa efforts are as successful as can be:
Don’t make it compulsory
Making activities like these compulsory can add unwanted stress to a co-workers 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.
Set a budget
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.
Consider a wish list or questionnaire
In larger organisations, knowing what to buy for a co-worker 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.
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.
Get some help
There are plenty of free programs that can make a gift exchange easier. Drawnames.co.uk, 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.