The festive season is finally upon us. Amongst all the mince pies, novelty ties and Christmas jumpers also comes the often feared, present giving experience of Secret Santa.

In case you have been living under a Santa sized rock, the tradition of Secret Santa has grown rapidly in terms of popularity over recent years as a cost and time saving exercise which ensures that every member of a participating group would receive a gift. The price limit is normally on the smaller side and is considered more of a gesture than an extravagant purchase.

For some offices, Secret Santa has become as integral a part of the festive season as the traditional office party. Although buying a gift for one instead of many seems like an obvious advantage, if you work in a large office with an extensive number of staff you can often literally pull the short straw. What to buy “what’s his name” from finance you spoke to in the lift last February? Even worse, the boss?!

To avoid unnecessary public embarrassment or having to put on an Oscar worthy performance when it comes to gift opening time, here’s how to make Secret Santa run smoothly.

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1.        Hats at the ready…

If you are prized with the responsibility of organising Secret Santa this year, and have a great number of people to organise, laying the traditional “names out a hat approach” to rest may be the easiest option. Try Elfster this Christmas and invite your friends via email, draw names secretly, and let users know what their friends want as gifts by viewing their wish list all through this handy tool. Hassle free and you’ll notice a huge reduction in the amount of office whispers.

2.       Investigate

Spend some time chatting to your Secret Santa to discover more about their interests, likes and dislikes. Also look for some subtle hints on their desk. Do they have a mug with dogs on it? Do they like to talk about their weekend hiking trips each Monday morning? Don’t cross the line into intruding and where possible don’t be obvious- keep the game going! This should dramatically decrease the likelihood of causing offence.

3.       Keep it appropriate

If you have drawn your boss or office crush, you may feel that this is the ideal opportunity to win them over. It is not a competition and something to gamble with. Yes you could end up getting them the gift they have always dreamed off which could be the start of a brilliant new friendship, but more than likely an out of the box gift may be misconstrued and land you in hot water. Make an informed and sensible decision.

4.       Be Considerate

It is likely that whoever has drawn your name might not know a great deal about you either, or has had the opportunity to read this guide. So if you do end up receiving socks, a novelty gift which will likely never see the light of day or something which just isn’t you, be considerate of their feelings. Be grateful for the time and expense they have gone to and take the opportunity to build relationships. You never know it may even break the ice when working on projects together in the future.

Whether you end up choosing your closest colleague or someone relatively unknown, spread some festive joy by devoting time to finding the right gift- after all dedicating your time to one rather than multiple cheaper gifts is a win win situation for everyone.

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