Secret Santa hell rolls around again

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There are those who delight in the task of buying someone they’ve barely spoken to in the office a gift worth $10. There are others who would rather munch on broken glass.

We all know why it takes place every year. “Oh, it’s a bit of fun!” Debby from the front desk will shriek. “It builds camaraderie and boosts morale,” we tell ourselves. Like it or loathe it, the task of gift-giving requires some thought – after all, the gift you give can tell quite a lot about you, ‘they’ say.

So, before we skip off to the shopping centres in droves, let HC recount for you the Secret Santa gifts you should avoid at all costs – unless you intend to start the New Year as the office outcast.

Something you got for free, complete with brand logo. Nothing shows you didn’t care about the Secret Santa exchange more than giving something that they could have gotten for free. Show at least some effort people!

Anything with sexual innuendo. Save it for your best friend’s bucks or hens night because absolutely nothing good can come from giving a box of novelty condoms to a colleague, no matter how well received you think it may be. At the very least, it communicates unprofessionalism to collegial observers.

Underwear. A ten-pack of new Bonds could be just what your desk-buddy needs, but it’s a bit too familiar for an office Christmas party. If you’ve already bought it, save it for Dad’s stocking on Christmas day.

Anything that refers to body issues the person might have – namely, deodorant. Nothing is more shame-inducing than being the one to receive deodorant, diet pills, a pack of tissues or breath mints You name it – if it’s from the chemist, time to re-think.

There are dozens of other inappropriate situation-specific gifts, and HC wants to hear your best (or worst!) Secret Santa experiences. Tell us below. 

  • Digsy on 30/11/2012 12:35:43 PM

    I saw a bald guy receive a hair brush one year

  • HR Manager on 30/11/2012 12:40:32 PM

    Once had a staff member lodge a grievance because the Secret Santa present was lingerie and a SALAMI !!!!

  • Louise Mitchell on 30/11/2012 12:40:51 PM

    Secret Santa gone wrong ... someone purchased a storage tin (for keeping trinkets or similar) with hand-painted kittens on the lid ... the recipient had an incredible negative response and major outburst including tears and storming out of the room screaming out "so, someone's trying to tell me I'm a cat or a bitch are they?" ... such an innocent thing and the response was so unexpected. Glad I wasn't the Secret Santa.

  • Business partner on 30/11/2012 1:02:59 PM

    Worst I ever saw was a bag of pornographic magazines, tube of lubricant and a box of tissues - to a very quiet, nerdy account. My observation is that deoderant and Palmolive Gold has also been a favourite in the past for individuals known to skimp on these items.

  • Nicole on 30/11/2012 1:16:14 PM

    A farting gnome - to our Regional Director! Luckily he saw the funny side and didn't mind.

  • Timothy Lee on 30/11/2012 1:19:44 PM

    Instead of spending $20 on something the recipient probably won't appreciate. We partner with charities to see what they need. This year, we're making $20 food hampers for OzHarvest. Previous years, we've bought toys/gifts for underpriviledged children. Christmas is the season for giving and giving is sweet, especially to those really in need.

  • Bernie Althofer on 30/11/2012 4:27:36 PM

    A sexual harassment referral officer was given a coffee mug with the words "Guess how many donuts I can fit on my ....". This in an organisation that was supposedly committed to the prevention, detection and resolution of workplace harassment.

    I guess that with Secret Santa's, people can get away with such behaviour knowing that it is difficult to trace the 'gift giver'.

  • Debbie on 3/12/2012 3:28:58 PM

    Luckily we do a random gift then play the Grinch game - at least that way there are no hurt feelings and everyone has some fun. Always fun to watch staff decide if they are game to swap gifts with the GM :)

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