#1: The number one rule is to be creative!
If you are trying to impress someone, instead of quantity, offer quality. Be creative in the gifts that you choose, don’t try to overdo it by spending your yearly bonus here. If it’s the office clown, you can purchase him or her a gag gift. If it’s the colleague you’ve been dying to take out to dinner, buy him or her something unique and interesting that you know they’ll fall for. All you need is a reasonably-priced present that will stand out. Remember, in the immortal words of Maya Angelou, “People might not remember what you say, or what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” And there’s nothing like buying that paperback someone’s been dying to read to make them feel special.
#2: Stay within the lines
Even if your present is very unique, you still need to follow the rules that your boss laid out for the office holiday gift exchange. You can set rules for Office Secret Santa, and you must make sure that everyone adheres to them. Some sample rules are: no inappropriate presents, date of present exchange must be a day when you are all present, etc. You can also set a spending limit for the gifts. And that is one of the most important rules of Office Secret Santa: stick to the budget. Do not try to outshine your coworkers. If there is a limit of $20, stick to it, or things could get awkward
So maybe you don’t know enough about your chosen recipient to personalize a gift for them. No matter! Here’s a list of things that everyone will love:
- Chocolates (Disclaimer: you must be sure that they are NOT allergic to any foods)
- Gift Cards to your local coffee shop or diner
- Any kind of Gift Card, really
- A stylish briefcase
- A Laptop Sleeve (make sure they have a laptop, and it is the appropriate size)
- An electric mug warmer
- A messenger bag
If you aren’t satisfied with going the tried and truth path, the perhaps ask around to see who your “target” talks to the most. You can be a little sneaky and listen in on their conversation for a good cause. If you don’t mind blowing your cover, you can even ask around for advice.
Just don’t spoil the surprise by approaching your soon-to-be recipient and asking them what they want.
Pro tip: If all of this sounds too stressful and complicated, then you can always make an agreement to each buy a random gift, and then have everyone place them on a table. Then, one person at random can be the first to pick a gift. Once the present is unwrapped, and it’s revealed who provided the present, then that person can be next to pick a present, and so on. Whether you use this method or the one described above, no one gets hurt and everyone gets a nice present for the holidays.