Should Workplaces do Secret Santa? What Are The Best Gifts?

There’s been a couple of chats relating to Secret Santa/Kris Kringle but not really one about whether people like doing it or not and what they think are good gifts.

I’m a bit conflicted.

- adds an activity to the work Christmas party/lunch
- sometimes receive something nice
- can be fun

- adds to landfill
- annoying have to make time to buy something
- sometimes receive rubbish

If you do participate what kind of gifts do you like to receive? What format do you prefer eg. Anonymous, buy for a specific person, naughty Santa (when you can steal others gifts)

Poll Options

  • 37
    I don’t participate
  • 12
    I participate begrudgingly
  • 3
    I love it (sometimes I’m the organiser)
  • 48
    Take it or leave it, it’s a bit of fun


  • Cons:
    - adds to landfill
    - sometimes receive rubbish

    Makes sense.

  • Just give a gift card.

  • I organise it for our team every year (12-13 people) and always participate. I mentioned in a previous post that the objective for ours is to buy something that will get a laugh out of the recipient (usually by embarrassing them) but the downside of this is that sometimes it can fall flat, especially when the recipient is new to the team. We have a $10 limit, which adds to the challenge of finding something suitable. I'm always happy to get anything, but have ended up with some doozies in the past! I think it's fun, but would never begrudge someone for not wanting to join in. Christmas is different for everyone, and the team Christmas party should be able to be enjoyed by everyone, whether they participate in Kris Kringle or not!

    • Really love this idea. Most workplaces have a $10- $20 limit on gifts which is frankly just a waste of time if you're trying to buy something meaningful. The only thing you can get for this price is something novelty so might as well have fun with it.

  • I do it with the young people who I know won't give shit gifts. I try and keep it small too.

  • Anything that forces people to do something besides staring aimlessly at the wall, is always frowned upon

  • Overthinking it.

  • we did a secret Santa once. The person who was supposed to get me a gift didn't and my team lead bought one instead. it was weird.

    • Haha - sounds super awkward.

    • I had that happen once - my person was so busy organising the Christmas lunch she forgot, so I just sat there awkwardly while everyone else opened theirs. I also once bought what I thought was a cute candle, but looked up to see the recipient showing her friend the horrible thing she got! Having said that, I’ve had some really fun experiences. I’m not working at the moment but we do it with a group of friends we always catch up with prior to Christmas (20-odd years now), and in more recent years we’ve started doing the stealing version. That often makes it more fun, and we have a proviso that if two people really want to swap at the end they can. We also draw numbers on the day rather than assigning people, and I’ve received some great things over the years as well as some shockers!

  • It's always wine, chocolate, recipe books or a mug. Count me out.

  • I don’t participate purely because of landfill and the gifts are usually awful.

    I have a group of friends that do regiftmas run like dirty Santa where everyone brings a gift and you get a number and pick a gift you want then if someone picks a number higher than you they can steal the gift or pick a new one.

    The main difference is you pick something from your house that you no longer want. Thus, not contributing to landfill. This works really well, sometimes some gifts are fought over, other gifts are not wanted and end up at the op shop. But nothing new is bought so there’s not increase in waste.

  • Been involved in this in the past. What we finally did was everyone put in $10 then we drew someone’s name out of a hat. That persons got to donate the money to the charity of their choice with the bonus they got the tax deduction.

    • That sounds fun - at least there's still an activity and the money gets used well.

  • A few years ago, I organised one between a few work friends with a $40 limit, and we listed 3 likes and 3 dislikes.
    We all had fun…………. although a lot of them don't talk to each other now.. ha ha

  • My god no. It’s just another opportunity for disaster!

  • Who is Secret Santa, and who is Kris Kringle?
    Don't forget, not many "enlightened individuals" care to partake in FABLES. Particularly those clearly plagiarised from other original sources, then profess the FABLE to be true bc someone concocted a FAKE personification.

  • We stopped doing it years ago at my work (large corporate office). It ended up becoming a joke with people buying ridiculous presents so everyone could laugh so hard when someone opened a dud present and thought WTF or got super embarrassed.

    We used to pick names out of a hat and buy a present for that person. The point being that you would know the person and get them something nice that they may like. But that got nasty from a number of individuals, e.g. a really bitchy manger was bought a straw broom (I must admit, it was the biggest collective laughter ever at my work once she opened it - and she was super pissed off). Someone who didn't have the best personal hygiene was bought a can of deodorant, or someone sour who never smiles or never has a laugh was given some vinegar. Some presents were even worse than those, you'd probably be fired nowadays for them.

    Then work changed the rules so we didn't pick names anymore and presents were just put in a pool and given out at random, but then many cheapass people (who are highly paid) were clearly spending no money and putting no effort and some people were getting absolute garbage (like a packet of pens or a sticky tape dispenser from the stationary room at work, or company key rings or mugs that anyone can get) and it was more a downer than a happy time for some people. And because it was anonymous no one knew who did it.

    So then work just stopped doing it as many people really didn't give a crap. Sad really, but this is corporate life, it's like a zoo and you just cannot get everyone to play ball all the time. There is always a reasonable percentage of people who don't like others, don't want to do anything nice, a completely anti-social, don't want to join in group activities and don't want other people to be happy. And when those people get the chance to express their view 'anonymously', such as Kris Kringle, it's not very nice for the recipients.

    • Oh wow! That sounds pretty terrible. I’ve never heard of it being that bad. Sounds like there is/was some culture issues in your workplace.

    • The exact deodorant thing happened when I worked in retail over 20 years ago. A girl that we worked with had the most eye-watering body odour, and we even had customers complain, it was that bad. Management spoke with her, but it didn't get better, so someone thought they'd get her a 3pk of deodorant spray for Secret Santa. I felt so bad for her…she quit soon after.

  • +2 votes

    Our team this year are doing a KK Happy socks $15-20 maximum and only those who want to participate are in the draw. The person organising allocates the names.We all work in an Emergency Dept.

    • I like the socks idea.

    • For my first Christmas in my last job I got the partner whose office I sat next to. I had no clue what to get him as I didn’t know him very well at that stage, so I asked the receptionist, who had been there for many years, and she gave me the tip of the loudest, most brightly coloured socks possible. I was a bit nervous, but when I saw him wearing a pair (and he was very particular about his expensive wardrobe) in the new year I thanked her and felt very pleased! 😂

  • Picking a charity that calls for gifts for kids like Bk2basics Melbourne is a great idea! They have a wish list on their Facebook page. Really good fun to get involved with regularly