BY ANASTASIA CHOO
Secret Santa is a concept – where you’re randomly assigned a person for whom you must buy an anonymous gift within a set budget – which, on the surface, seems tailor made for the work place. After all, it’s completely impractical for everyone at work to buy everyone else a present, even if they wanted to, which probably they don’t.
However, in the real world, the workplace Secret Santa routine tends to be fraught with difficulties which can lead to years of resentment, fallings-out and defeat the essence of giving at Christmas time.
Choosing gifts for loved ones is hard enough but having a name picked, which is usually someone we hardly know, and having a set budget for them, is an altogether different experience. This supposedly fun, light-hearted, seasonal workplace exercise is often riddled with dangers and reveals what kind of person you are, both as the giver and recipient.
Here are 7 Secret Santas I know:
The Thoughtless Gifter – a counter-productive approach, no thought is put into choosing the gift. It is poorly presented and often does not match the monetary value set, it could be part of a “Buy Two Get One Free” offer or even a recycled gift from the previous year. This lack of thought just breeds resentment from the recipient
Over the Toppers – the over enthusiastic gifter is desperate to please, will give an over the top expensive gift which indicates you like that person a lot more than is healthy in the workplace or it is interpreted as bribing your way to a promotion. Awkward for the recipient and alienates you from the rest of your team.
Charity/Eco Warrior – a receipt presented in an envelope indicates that a pile of special poo from Oxfam purchased in your name will help a family in Ghana use eco-friendly techniques to farm. Seems like a decent gesture but it’s not about the recipient, more about the person giving. He/she wants to send a message about what they are passionate about. The recipient may not support this charity but to comment would look churlish.
Homemade – a special cake baked by the colleague with questionable hygiene levels, has a house full of cats and always seems to have a cold too. “Go on try some, it’s delicious” The recipient can only picture the cats slinking around the kitchen and that the homemade cake has been sneezed over, furthermore he has an egg allergy. Would have preferred a gift card.
Sexual Gifter – shops at Ann Summers, novelty gift depends on recipient’s humour or workplace culture. Do you normally share sexual jokes or even talk to the recipient? Could be seen as sexual harassment.
The Bah Humbugs – these co-workers refuse to participate based on above experiences and no amount of cajoling will convince them that it’s just a bit of festive fun.
The Gift Face Struggle – think how bad it is having to pretend that you like those knitted trousers from your Aunt Betty when you are seated opposite her over Christmas lunch. Multiply that by about thirty faces all peering across as you open your Secret Santa gift. One of those thirty faces will be your Secret Santa. No matter how much you dislike your gift, try to retain a happy, smiley face. Those that show displeasure just look petty and childish.
Last Christmas I was the recipient of a red thong with inbuilt condom-pocket and a cherry-flavoured condom included. The universal gasps were panto-esque, my cheeks rapidly turned the same colour as the gift. I didn’t know what to say and merely laughed nervously.
The office temp promptly owned up with a silly joke and a wink. Perhaps he thought I was the reckless type. Whatever it was that was going through his mind when he chose my gift, he just showed himself up to be a weirdo. Although to give him credit he did chuckle when he found said thong (still unused) floating in his coffee the next day.
Choose gifts with thought and care, your career is for life – Secret Santa is just for Christmas.