Tips for being a good secret Santa

Most workplaces and many other organisations organise Secret Santa, if yours does and if this is your first time or you need help read this guide to find some tips.

Work out the rules of the game

The most important tip for being a good secret Santa is to find out the rules of the game. Some of these rules maybe verbally agreed on before hand (for instance the maximum price of gifts), but they may also be non-verbal. For instance some groups buy humorous presents and watch whilst they are unwrapped in front of everyone.

Whilst others give the presents in private and the group may never know what has been given to whom. And others a mixture between the two. In order to find out the likely culture of secret Santa within your group particularly if its your first time with that group it is a good idea to try and find out what people got each other last time and what sort of presents they intend to buy for others. Of course you could just come out and ask these questions but asking too much will reduce the impression you make by buying a good secret Santa present.

Think about where the gifts will be given

It is also important to consider the circumstances of the secret Santa event, if the secret Santa is a more official event on company property then gifts need to be clean and respectful, whereas if they are informal between friends then the rules are more open but are dependent on the culture of the group you are in. The aim of a secret Santa present is to get a gift that is appropriate for the group as possible whilst being personalised to the receiver and within the budget. This is your opportunity to show that you care about your colleagues and that you know the receiver and by extension everyone else. Also if the gift is significantly either side of the budget it gives the opportunity for some member for the group to be upset at the value of the present they have received.

Another top tip is that the gift should be clear in its meaning, if you get someone of the opposite sex flowers then this may come across of being a statement of romantic intent even if you meant it humorously or just non-romatically.

If you don't know the person you are giving gifts to and it is not possible to learn more about them within the time allocated (remember Facebook is your friend) then try and get a generic present that most people would appreciate at the budget cost, this is also a useful tip if you are playing blind secret santa where the identity of who you are given to is also unknown. Picking a gender neutral item for this sort of secret Santa game can be difficult, but  if possible try consider everyone in your group when buying this present(this maybe difficult in a large group).

Be grateful for what you receive

Another important part of secret Santa is making sure you are grateful (or at the very least act grateful) when you receive the gift from your secret Santa, this can be harder if you are new to the group and the person concerned may have you got you a generic gift as they do not know you well enough to buy you something personal. The only time you should fail to be grateful is if the gift you are receiving is malicious or offensive but fortunately these types of gifts are fairly rare. Also make sure you thank the person you who gave you the gift either personally or with a card.

So in summary make sure you buy a gift which is within budget, appropriate for the group and personalised towards the receiver and make sure you act grateful when you receive the present.