It’s that time of year again! In addition to the stress caused by choosing gifts for your family and friends, you’ve also drawn the name of a colleague for the annual office Secret Santa event. What do you get?! 

Luckily, if your company or department honors this covert gift giving tradition, it’s probably a pretty friendly culture already. But if you’re still worried, here are some tips on how to be an effective Secret Santa this year:

  1. Be observant—Although you don’t want to be intrusive, you can get a lot of clues about what your co-workers like from a little observation of their offices or other working space. And if someone else in the office is closer to your recipient, get some advice.
  2. Stay on budget—Secret Santa exchanges usually set a minimum and maximum amount to spend. Even if you get your boss or the CEO, stay within the limits. You don’t want to be the only one who overspent or underspent—both are bad for office politics.
  3. Forget the hierarchy—At holiday time, everyone is on the same level. Buy thoughtfully whether it is for the President or the guy in the mailroom.
  4. No clothes—Just a good rule of thumb. Your idea of someone else’s size or taste could cause hurt feelings unnecessarily.
  5. Don’t regift—Unless there is a traditional novelty gift that gets passed around every year, don’t give what you got last year, even if you never used it. If it’s that bad, give it to a local thrift shop and get something new.

Secret Santa can be fun and ideally is a nice way to give and receive in a large group without breaking the bank. A little thought can go a long way to Secret Santa success, as in everything else!

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative