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Many Employees Throw Away Their Co-Workers' "Secret Santa" Gifts

Do you have a Secret Santa program running in your workplace? Here’s a secret even Santa doesn’t know: many employees regularly throw away the gifts they’re given by co-workers. At least if you believe an admittedly highly unscientific survey done for Time Inc.

It found a full 31 per cent of all workers asked admit they’ve simply tossed the presents given to them during the holidays. And those with “Secret Santa” programs in place fare even worse. More than half say they disliked the gifts they were given, although a full 41 per cent still bought something for someone else they worked with anyway.

Does this mean you should stop the idea of giving your all at Christmas? Not really, claims one etiquette expert. Leah Ingram advises if you’re planning to give a co-worker something this year, keep it small, inexpensive and personalized. And make sure what you wind up getting someone else is appropriate for the situation. She notes a boss should never give a female employee a spa gift certificate because it could be misconstrued as having slight sexual overtones.

And remember not everything has to be store bought. Ingram suggests giving someone a batch of home made cookies is an excellent way to discharge your gift giving obligation while at the same time showing you went to some trouble to do it. And that present seems to be perfect for everyone from your receptionist to your manager and boss.

“There is nothing wrong with baking cookies,” Ingram maintains. “Packaging it up and giving it to everyone. You can get creative.” Just don’t expect them to last long. At most workplaces, free food is something of an endangered species.

  • So what if you get a present you don’t really want? Before you discard it, try the online  Secret Santa gift exchange, which allows you to trade one item you don’t need for something someone else would have preferred not to have received – a sort of anonymous regifting taken to worldwide heights.