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The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

December 17, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

Holiday survival guide: Secret Santa edition

The holidays are typically a welcome time of year at any office. The hustle and bustle of closing up Q4 paired with tree decorating, holiday parties and other breaks from the norm can all combine to help people bond and get to know each other outside of the day-to-day routine. In fact, you may be feeling as jolly as Old Saint Nick himself with all the good cheer in the air… until you realize that your workplace does an office Secret Santa exchange.

If you’ve never participated in one before, the program works when each person in a group is randomly assigned to shop for another person anonymously. You might be tempted to opt out of such a program, but you don’t want to come off as the office Scrooge. Why not say yes and read on to learn what you can expect?

Rule 1. Be thoughtful
Don’t take yourself too seriously when figuring out what to get for your Secret Santa, but do give something you genuinely think the other person would like. If you’re assigned to shop for your best bud at work, you can probably get something you’ll both find funny. If you’re assigned someone you really don’t know well, ask around to learn what she might like or get something that is broadly appealing. Avoid anything that might be misinterpreted or thought to be in poor taste!

Rule 2. Know and respect the budget
This is not the time to show off by spending more than necessary. The budget is there so that everyone is on an equal playing field. Be mindful by not going over the maximum amount. The Secret Santa program is about others, after all. Spending more will most certainly backfire.

Rule 3. Get creative with gifts
There are a lot of unique and appealing ideas for Secret Santa gifts. Check out a few of our favorites:

$5 and under
Five bucks doesn’t go far, so you really have to maximize your dollar. Homemade gifts are great for this amount, so whip up your famous fudge or tie a ribbon around that jam you recently jarred.

If you’re not so much the “homemade” type, here are a few fun ideas that are sure to bring a smile for $5 or less:

Note: A quick trip to your local dollar store can also provide plenty of inspiration for affordable gifts that will make a big impression.

$10 and under
Gift cards rule the $10 and under category. Think about getting a certificate from local haunts, like that independent coffee shop down the road or your co-workers’ favorite happy-hour spot. But don’t just go generic and leave the gift card in an envelope; jazz it up with a little something extra like a piece of candy, a sprig of evergreen or a holiday-scented candle.

$20 and under
A fail-safe gift for the $20 and under category is a fun new mug paired with bag of coffee beans or some tea. The mug could be holiday themed, feature something you know the recipient would enjoy (cat or dog lover?), or say something comical, like this one that cleverly references the movie “Office Space.”

Books are another option if you know what the recipient would enjoy. When in doubt, cookbooks or cocktail guides can be a festive option for the Secret Santa game. We enjoy these options:

For those of you who have done Secret Santa in the past, what was the best gift you received? Please leave your answer in the comments section.