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It’s that time of year again and this year I thought I’d consider the dos and don’ts of Secret Santa.  Not to pour cold water on it - I happen to love Secret Santa. I love all things Christmas!

My first piece of advice would be to make it voluntary, forced fun is never welcomed and can cause team members to feel apprehensive or unhappy.  Next, set a reasonable price guide to avoid putting participants under pressure to spend a lot of money and ensure parity of gifts.

Choose names randomly, the good old pick a name from a hat method works well here.  You could provide printed name stickers to aid anonymity once the gifts are brought in.

All sounds easy doesn’t it?  Here comes the cold water bit where I spoil it by throwing in a few legal considerations!

It is important to set guidelines that gifts must be inoffensive.  Remember that everyone’s tolerance level is different and a gift that one person might think is highly amusing may cause a colleague embarrassment or offence.  

Harassment is defined as any unwanted conduct that violates an individual’s dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for an individual. When it comes to harassment, the motive is irrelevant.

Likewise, gifts that are personal in nature should also be avoided as these can cause discomfiture or awkwardness.  Alcoholic gifts or food gifts also have potential pitfalls, but don’t be put off, as long as the team are provided with guidance beforehand, there is no reason why Secret Santa can’t be sweet!

If a complaint does arise, deal with it promptly in line with your Grievance Procedure.  Don’t have one?  Give us a call at EST HR and we will be happy to help!