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The dos and don'ts of Secret Santa

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By Jenny Stallard
Secret Santa the best way to show a colleague or friend just how well you don't know them.

Come Christmas it's custom to be tasked with buying someone we hardly speak to the rest of the time a present, often for either £5 or £10 (or sometimes £20 if you're really unlucky).

But, if you're usually stuck in a quagmire of present-buying stress, fear not. Here's how to navigate the Secret Santa maze successfully.

Do a bit of research about your giftee
It's actually quite easy to get something your colleague would like. Have a look at their desk, spend some time listening in to their general chats. Are they a dog or a cat person? How about their favourite team? Little clues can make a big difference - and while they'll then love their gift, it cuts down your shopping time dramatically, too.

Spend the full amount
The only variation on this rule is if something is reduced to the amount allocated (for instance, the budget it £10 and you manage to find a £20 product that's reduced to a tenner). It may be tempting to get something for £8 when the budget is £10, but that's a real no-no. After all, how would you feel if you spent £10 and someone else only spent £8? Top up with Christmas chocs or a mini bottle of wine or fizz if you have some money to spare.

Avoid anything too smelly
It's tempting to head straight to the bubble bath department when shopping for Secret Santa. And that's OK, as long as you keep it neutral. Now is not the time to test if they're keen on that new cranberry/mince pie mash-up shower gel you saw.
Again, looking for clues to their taste can be key. Are they always wafting through the office in a cloud of perfume? Or perhaps more understated?

Be careful with novelty items
Ahh, how funny when you get some Christmas-themed deely boppers and a Mrs Claus sign for your desk, while you've spent hard-earned time and money on something they might actually use/like.
While it can be tempting to get something novelty, it's just going to end up being re-gifted - or worse still, in landfill. Less plastic is key at Christmas, after all. Unless, of course, they love novelty, in which case go for it - with bells and unicorn horns on.

Include a gift receipt
Feeling super kind? Then get a gift receipt. That way they can swap for something they really want and they'll love you (even if they don't know it's you) forever.

Making a gift
It can be fun to make someone something - especially if you do know them well. The same rules apply with spending the right budget, and sticking to their taste. Personalised items can be very thoughtful - just try to be 100% sure that really IS how they spell their name...
(PA)