Aaah! That time of the year! Secret Santa at the workplace.
The time when you have to buy a gift for someone at the office, you have no idea who that person is and you are terrified that yours will be the blandest gift of them all. The gift that gets a disappointed look, quickly covered by a fake smile. That gift that no one claims ownership upon, while other colleagues exchange meaningful looks with the very happy recipients of well-conceived, hilarious, cute or witty gifts. Oh, the horror!
Christmas gifts for coworkers can be generally daunting, let alone when the recipient’s identity is unknown – leaving the very idea of a personalized gift to be untouchable.
What Are Good Secret Santa Gifts for Coworkers?
The problem is that people tend to overcomplicate things and think too much into it. This is a matter of less is more and the secret is to keep it simple. Gift ideas for coworkers do not have to be that hard to come up with.
Generally, a good Secret Santa gift is something that can be easily re-gifted (at least in theory). In addition, don’t trust the endless random gift guides on the Internet that try to sell you all sorts of useless objects that will only end up as clutter in someone’s closet.
If it doesn’t have a Christmassy vibe, it’s not a good fit.
Best Secret Santa Ideas for Work
Here’s a list of some bulletproof gift ideas for Secret Santa at the office:
a box of assorted chocolates or macaroons, a Christmas themed porcelain mug (it will go straight to the wife if the recipient happens to be a man)
a “World Domination Plans” notebook
a bottle of ginger wine
a set of colorful or funny socks in a gift box.
Heck, if you know your way around the kitchen you could even bake a batch of cookies and put them in a mason jar. Who doesn’t love cookies?
Some other great Secret Santa gift ideas for coworkers are the ones that are sort of “one size fits all”, something that would work for pretty much anyone, regardless of sex, age or personality type:
a paperback Christmas Planner/Organizer
a cozy Christmas themed book
a box of fancy herbal tea blend with holiday spices such as orange, cinnamon, baked apples, cloves or nutmeg
an extravagant winter holidays scented candle
high quality Christmas tree decorations, maybe from an upmarket well-known brand
Just pick something along those lines that is most convenient for you to buy, bake or order. You don’t have to drive to the other side of town or make a huge fuss about it. Make sure you have it ready and nicely wrapped on time.
If you’d like some actual examples of such gifts, The Telegraph made a pretty nice selection of really good Secret Santa Gifts for a tiny budget. However, I really think you should source your Secret Santa gift locally and put it a little bit in context with your actual life situation.
Do not underestimate the power of gift wrapping for this particular occasion. As the gift is small or in any case it had to fit within a given budget, the wrapping can go a long way. This is the place to splurge, go wild, use a huge bow, glitter, fancy gift bags and whatever else inspires you.
Oh, and don’t forget to enjoy the whole thing! Gift giving should be an occasion for spreading holiday cheer and bringing a moment of joy in someone else’s life. Check out some of the proven Psychological Benefits of Gift Giving in this short article and be merry!
Cool Secret Santa Gift Idea
If you really want your Secret Santa gift to be the star of the day, just frame a large photo of your team’s manager, or even the company CEO, wrap it nicely and there you have it. Just make sure to use only official photos from the company’s internal files and perhaps let the manager know about your plot.
This cool Christmas gift for your coworker will be remembered for years and years to come until it finally becomes the stuff of legend around the office. Mwell, I might be exaggerating a bit but seriously, people will be talking about this for weeks.
I know a guy who received a framed photograph of one of his colleagues who was temporarily mentoring him for a project. In this case the identity of the receiver was known and the identity of the one offering the gift was secret. The idea of having a framed photo of his peer coworker on his office desk was hilarious and everyone had fun for days. The gift that keeps giving.
Budget: Secret Santa Gifts Under $10, $20, 30$ and so on
Another aspect to consider is the agreed budget. Do not think that by exceeding this budget you’re doing a good deed. The other colleagues that did stick to the agreed budget might feel somehow cheated, because they made an effort to find something cute and thoughtful within that budget.
The point is, keep it Christmas themed or slightly funny, choose something small but high quality rather than a big shady contraption on sale, stick to the agreed budget and you’ll be just fine.
If you dream of a magical Christmas and you’d like some tips about choosing amazing gifts for your loved ones, download my Checklist for Great Gifts.
What is the purpose of a gift? Why are we offering gifts in the first place? Sadly, nowadays, in our chaotic life filled with endless to-do lists and lack of time, gifts are becoming just something to tick off a list, a box of something nicely wrapped that we paid a “reasonable” amount of money for.
A gift can show a person that you care, can be an act of friendship and it can sure make someone happy. In other contexts, when finding a gift for someone you just met, it can be a chance to show that you paid attention, that you know how to pick something nice and that you know how to be graceful.
Ok, so sometimes a gift is just a formality, but why not take that opportunity to bring a smile on someone’s face?
Dr. John Dewey, American philosopher, said that the deepest urge in human nature is “the desire to be important”. A gift makes someone feel important by itself, but a well-chosen gift, a gift that considers the personality and desires of the gift recipient will surely make him feel important and cared for.
The counterintuitive part is that once you manage to make someone else happy, there’s a warm fuzzy feeling in you heart that quickly transforms into sheer happiness. It makes you feel good and proud of yourself. In fact, studies find that there are health benefits associated with giving. Giving can activate regions of the brain associated with pleasure, connection and trust.
Another benefit of great gift-giving is the sense of being appreciated and admired. This is an indirect perk of coming up with an excellent gift idea. You will immediately stand out if your gift is something original that truly resonates with the recipient. Everybody has a long list of not-so-great gifts (to say the least) forgotten in the dark corners of the closet and they can appreciate an ingenious and thoughtful gift. Therefore, offering such a gift to someone will actually make you feel proud of yourself.
A thank you gift offered to someone that helped us is an excellent vehicle for expressing of our feelings of gratitude. A thank you gift offers closure and makes us feel good as well.
The thought process and brainstorming that comes with gift giving helps us be more empathetic and more attuned to the feelings of others. Thinking about someone else’s likes and dislikes is the shortest pathway to understanding others. Great gift giving is all about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, getting inside their head and seeing things from their perspective.
An indirect benefit of thoughtful gifts is that it helps build social skills and relationships with other people. On one hand you get to know and understand the recipient better by the thought process and research that goes into finding the perfect gift and on the other the recipient will instantly feel closer to you by being understood and by receiving something that he or she actually likes and appreciates. Being able to relate to people is quite a valuable skill that can change our life for the better.
Ultimately, the most important thing is simply caring, actually asking the question “What would he or she really enjoy receiving?” and then experience the joy of gift-giving.