Ahh yes, a ‘gag’ gift. How thoughtful. (Credits: Getty Images)
It might still seem a little early to talk about the office Christmas party, but venues will have been booked months ago and there will be people organising invites and other logistics in the coming weeks.
A big part of these workplace festivities is always Secret Santa.
There’s a lot I like about the concept. In theory, it’s a fantastic money-saver – perfect for a time of year when we’re already spending so much.
Rather than buy lots of presents, you’re buying just one. And there’s usually a price cap, so you can’t get too carried away (or worry about whether your gift will be worth the same as the one you’re going to receive).
Plus it doesn’t just work for the office – you can do it with friends and family, too. All in, it sounds like something we should embrace.
But when it comes down to it, I’m not a fan. My problem is in the execution.
So many times in the past I’ve been given something random or useless by colleagues at the party – and had to force a grin in an attempt to avoid any hurt feelings (not that it sometimes appeared much effort went into choosing the gift).
In a way, it’s often destined to go wrong.
Much of the time you’re buying for someone you hardly know, and you’re getting a gift from someone who has never met you.
Or there are the office comedians who mistake bad taste for hilarity. In these situations it won’t end well.
What if it was less awkward for the both of us? (Credits: Getty Images)
Yes, it can work. Yes, it can come up trumps. But based on my experiences I’m less than enthusiastic about taking part in its current form.
And I’m not alone here. Research by my UK Money Bloggers community found that one in three men and one in four women would rather not participate.
And when they do, more than a third of people say they will give away the gift they receive via Secret Santa.
With a total of £167million likely to be spent via this present exchange in the workplace alone, that’s almost £60million of wasted cash this year.
But what if instead of reluctantly taking part in something because everyone else is, you can feel good about being involved?
Wouldn’t you rather have the choice to give to a good cause over another unwanted gift? (Credits: Getty Images)
What if unwanted presents weren’t bought at all? What if the thought is genuinely what counts?
This is where my idea of ‘give or gift’ comes into play.
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At UK Money Bloggers you can print out Secret Santa sheets that along with letting you write your name to go in the hat, also allow you to tick a box stating whether you’d like to receive a gift as usual, or a different one if you’d like your mystery Santa to give to charity on your behalf instead.
The money that would have gone on festive novelty books and mugs instead goes to a good cause – to those who need the money more than you do.
You can, of course, choose any charity close to your heart, but we’ve partnered with KidsOut, which will use your donation to buy toys or experiences for children in refuges who have escaped from domestic violence. There’s a JustGiving page that makes it easy to give your money.
But if you look forward to Secret Santa keep on, ’tis the season after all (Credits: Getty Images)
If you like the idea of this, please do tell your colleagues and friends about it, and encourage them to join in. The more people who join in, the more money we can all raise.
Do remember, though, that it’s about the choice. So you can still say you want a ‘gift’ – there’s nothing wrong with that.
And again, especially in small groups of friends where you know each other well, it can be a good way to exchange presents.
But if you’re not fussed about receiving a gift and would rather spread some festive love to those who really need it, you just need to tick the ‘give’ box.
You can donate as a Secret Santa at the Just Giving page.
Over a third of people will give away their gift anyway.