How to Hold the Perfect Office Secret Santa

If you are wondering how to hold the perfect office Secret Santa, there is a very good chance that you have been around a lot of whining and complaining in the past over this event. Have you ever noticed that when it is time to draw names, people just disappear? Do you have coworkers who tend to call in sick on the day of the actual exchange? Does half the staff spend the day complaining about what they got?

If this sounds like your workplace, then you are actually part of the majority. What is it about Secret Santa and shopping for a gift for coworkers that seems to bring out the inner scrooge in even some of the most joyful people? Well, you can change this! There are things that you can do to have a gift exchange that leaves everyone so happy that they can’t wait until next year.

Start Early

There is nothing worse than making everyone draw names the week before the exchange. Some people have already finished their shopping for one reason; they don’t want to deal with last minute crowds. Not to mention, this is a busy time of year. Between work, holiday parties, family gatherings, taking the kids sledding, etc., there is no time to shop. Waiting until the last minute pretty much guarantees that there is going to be a lot of negativity before the event even gets started.

Set a Budget

The easiest way to ensure that there is no awkwardness is to set a budget that everyone is comfortable with. Keep in mind that everyone does not likely make the same amount and everyone has their own expenses.

Obviously, a cap amount that is too high could be a struggle for some, but if you ask around, they may feel too proud to admit it. Why not simply ask everyone to write down on a piece of paper what they would be comfortable spending. This can be folded and put in a hat or large envelope, so it remains confidential. Then, you just have to go through and figure out the average amount; this should be close to what most people are comfortable with.

Gift Ideas

One of the hardest things about a Secret Santa is that if you draw the name of someone you know nothing about, you often have to buy a really generic gift, if you aren’t a creative shopper.

Instead of simply writing names on paper, give everyone a small square piece of paper and have them write down five gift ideas that they would like that are all within the designated budget. This is the perfect opportunity for them to request a new movie, video game, book, fair trade tea, etc. The buyer doesn’t have to get what is on the list, but at least they will have an idea of what they like.

You may also want to have them write if they have any food allergies or dietary restrictions. For example, a vegan who is allergic to peanuts probably will not be thrilled with homemade peanut butter fudge that they have to give away.

Pencil in Time

If everyone is expected to buy a gift for coworkers, it is not really fair to hail everyone to gather, exchange gifts and rush the process, so they can get back to work. Pencil in an hour or two in the work day and have refreshments and snacks. Let them actually enjoy this time. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much more positive the workplace is, at least for a few days anyway!

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