Christmas candle snowman with lights by Digidreamgrafix is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

How many of us sign up for Secret Santa with the best of intentions?

How many of us go into the Christmas period planning to top the previous failed attempt? Tell yourself you can produce the spectacular on a minimal budget, only to end up in Debenhams on the Eve of the swap eyeing up the £10 shower sets that hit the allocated budget perfectly.

Only to feel overwhelmed with guilt the following day, when upon opening your present you find something perfect, a gift that someone has thought long and hard about to ensure that you truly love it. You can always spot these people if you’re looking. The people who have huge smiles on their face when they open the present, only for the smile to turn into a vacant stare into the distance as the guilt settles in that they didn’t really try this year, but next year will be different.

The shower set is the product of two simple problems that come with Secret Santa.

  1. The Luck Of The Draw

How good the present will be largely depends on the name you pick from the hat. On the rare occasion you get someone you really know then it’s easy, you don’t even need to think about it. The idea has been planted, you’ll have it bought and paid for by the end of the day.

It’s the three other categories of people that cause the most problems.

  • The people you know but actively dislike.
  • Someone you don’t know.
  • A manager or director.

All these three categories bring their own problems.

Someone you don’t like is three weeks of passive aggressive fantasising over what gift you can get them which will feel like an internal victory, but won’t make you look like the office bully. Before you decide on the laziest, most passive aggressive of all Secret Santa gifts, the shop voucher. What is essentially £10 in an envelope, but can only be spent in one location. For somewhere where anything that costs £10 is just a complete waste of time, where you have to add your own money to get something that’s remotely worth the journey.


A manager or a director immediately doubles or triples the amount of money you were willing to spend. Instead of opting for a cheap bottle of Jim Bean, you’re now buying a 10 year distilled bottle of whiskey in a hand crafted box, which has set you back close to £50, because how do you buy for someone “who has everything”?

Then there are the people you don’t know, the people you have maybe met once or twice in the kitchen, or Christmas party, that you’ve spoken to three or four times in the space of about six years. The name where you have to ask someone in confidence, “who is this again?” Before acting like you actually knew, but the name just slipped your mind.

  1. It’s Christmas

Lest we forget December is a joyous month, but for the majority of us it’s a highly stressful month. We’re all busy organising our own plans, presents, food, lunch, family, school, and a present for someone who isn’t necessarily close to us isn’t really high on the list of our priorities. So it simply gets left in the background, with the constant thought process of “I’ll get round to it,” which is what ultimately leaves us shelf searching for something easy the day before we are due to hand over our presents.

It doesn’t make us bad people, or lazy, it is just a busy time and we can’t always find that free time to justify prioritising it over everything else that comes so thick and fast.

I’ve found that spreading out your budget makes what you buy a lot more small things that will make the gift seem more personal.

Most people you work with, come the end of the day, are relatable. Imagine what you would want at the end of a stressful today? What basic necessities would make you happy come 5pm?

Chocolate, champagne, soaps, candles, beers, cheese and crackers.

People say buying alcohol is lazy, it’s not.

Personally I would rather get a load of cheap things that I may or may not use, than to open up a shower set, which you will somehow never find use for even know you use body wash daily.