Whether you love surprising colleagues with a carefully picked out gift or dread the moment of opening yet another dud present, Secret Santa is coming to town. On the surface, this is a charming custom designed to inject a bit of good cheer into our lives in the run up to Christmas. It’s even spread to the internet, with Reddit getting members to take part in the largest Secret Santa ever in 2012. However, while this is a nice theory, it’s more likely that you’ll be left to present a stranger with a panic-bought scented candle or toiletry selection, while offering polite and insincere thanks for your own gift. It’s time to revitalise this ritual, so spice things up with these simple tips and make dodgy presents a thing of the past.

Mini Miss Santa Costume

Blind buying

You all know the drill: names go into a hat and are drawn at random, likely leaving you to pick for someone you barely know. This problem is the main cause of uninspiring gift choices, since you’re forced to rely on generic gifts. Male colleague? A cheeky tie. Female? Chocolates, or a scented candle. All well and good, but you know that you will be on the receiving end of the same uninspired thing.

Embrace this element of chance by suggesting everyone blind-buys a gift that will then be given out at random. This way, no one will be personally offended by a poor present, and knowing the recipient could be anyone from the office junior to the managing director might encourage effort, creativity, and a higher calibre of gift!

Gift-stealing

Allowing the ‘theft’ of gifts might seem out of keeping with the spirit of Christmas, but it will certainly spice things up! Colleagues can either hang on to their opened presents or surrender them for someone else to ‘steal’. Ensure things don’t get too heated by choosing novelty gifts and allowing only one ‘theft’ per person. Taking the concept of gift-exchange to a new level, this ensures everyone can get something they want.

Present party

Christmas isn’t known as the party season for nothing. Don’t shuffle off to your desk with your token gift only to sit there in quiet disappointment – make Secret Santa a fun office event! Attendees decorate the staff room and donate snacks and drinks. Everyone loves a party, and the presence of free food and festive cheer will make any questionable gift instantly more appealing. Encourage lots of festive feel with Christmas jumpers, favourite festive tunes and plenty of tinsel.

25 Christmas books for advent

A proper present

The best way to spice up your office Secret Santa is to find something a colleague might actually like. Old-fashioned though it may seem, putting some thought into what you buy will make a positive difference to your annual office gift exchange. The extra effort will be worth it when you see how happy Suzannah from marketing is with one of the stylish sweatshirts at Very or a chocolate-making course instead of yet another body lotion. The warm glow that comes with giving a gift that’s genuinely appreciated is a fundamental part of the spirit of Christmas – and who knows? Maybe next year you’ll receive a present you actually want!

Disclaimer: In association with Very