Gifts and presents for every occasion

Secret Santa on a Shoestring


Christmas is a magical time … or it is until you remember how it upsets your bank balance. So, when the email arrives confirming the office Secret Santa, the prospect may well feel daunting. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to buy on a budget. Just looking at the range of people in the workplace can give you some top tips for saving on your Secret Santa gifts:


It’s Secret Santa day at the office, and everyone’s finding it very difficult to contain their excitement. Mr Sunshine’s grin is threatening to split his face, and Mr Bounce is singing Jingle Bells, very loudly, accompanied by Miss Prim, who seems to know the rude version. Mrs I-Know-Everything-that-Goes-on-Around-Here keeps asking when Secret Santa is happening.


Nestling under the scruffy little artificial Christmas tree, which stands on the empty desk (Mr Light-fingers hasn’t been replaced yet), are five wrapped gifts. On each parcel is a sticky label, bearing a printed name. At coffee break, Mr Bossy, the big boss, comes scampering out of his private office, puts on a Christmas CD (the one Mrs Bossy didn’t want at home), and announces that it’s time for Secret Santa.


The parcels are lined up on the spare desk, with labels turned down – although everyone, of course, knows exactly whom each gift is for, because they’ve all had a good look. Mr Bossy reminds everyone that the identity of the giver must remain a secret. From a distance of three long strides, he throws a red bauble at the parcels, and it hits a box-shaped package that everyone knows is for Miss Prim.


Novelty gifts


Beaming broadly, Miss Prim unwraps a miniature desk fan, just 15 cm high, adjustable, and powered by USB. There’s no doubt, in anyone’s mind, as to who bought this gift, because Mrs I-Know-Everything-that-Goes-on-Around-Here is an authority on the menopause, and she makes no secret of it. On many occasions, she has extolled the virtue of her own desk fan, which has been generously shared with Miss Prim, despite some serious overheating as a result.


Mrs I-Know-Everything-that-Goes-on-Around-Here prefers to buy small, interesting stocking fillers. She puts a lot of thought into her gifts, and always manages to come up with something appropriate. Last year, she gave Mr Sunshine an egg timer, after hearing him complain, on several occasions, about overcooked – and undercooked – boiled eggs.


Recycled gifts


Miss Prim tosses the bauble, and it hits a box with Mr Bounce’s name on it. Mr Bounce is over the moon when he finds that he’s the owner of a Dad Dance Mat, which comes with instructions for eight dad-style dances and a game spinner. Everyone remembers this Dad Dance Mat from last year; it was Mr Bossy’s present from Mr Light-Fingers. Apparently, Mr Bossy has forgotten where it came from, and thinks he’s got away with it.


Poor Mr Bossy is often disappointed with his Christmas gifts. People give him things he doesn’t like. It makes him a little sad that nobody seems to know him very well, but on the other hand, an awful lot of money is saved by passing these unwanted gifts on to other people the following year.


This year, Mr Bossy is planning to give his brother the fondue set that he received two years ago from his oldest friend, who somehow forgot that Mr Bossy detests cheese. For his grown-up son, he’s wrapped up a bottle of whiskey that he won in the raffle at a dinner dance, just a couple of weeks ago. His daughter will receive a DVD that Mr Bossy got for his birthday – twice.


Hand-made gifts


Mr Bounce throws the bauble and misses. On his second throw, the bauble hits a large, flat gift with Mr Bossy’s name on it. Mr Bossy is quite overcome with emotion when he sees a framed photograph of a winter sunset over the North Sea.


Mr Sunshine, who’s a marvellous photographer, bought the lovely 10” by 12” wooden frame for £4.50, and put one of his own prints in it. Mr Bossy has at last been given a gift that he loves. With a tear in his eye, he thanks Mr Sunshine for the beautiful picture, and Mr Sunshine says, rather coyly, “How do you know it’s from me?”


Every Christmas, Mr Sunshine makes ten boozy fruit cakes, and he gives them as presents to friends and family. Sometimes, he makes orange marmalade, flavoured with ginger or rum. And sometimes he gives people jars of home-made lemon curd, decorated with yellow ribbon. To him, the reaction to his thoughtful and hand-crafted gifts are a highlight of the season.


Multi-buy bargain


Mr Bossy throws the bauble, and it hits Mr Sunshine’s parcel. The gentleman is delighted with his gift: John Grisham’s latest novel. Mr Sunshine is crazy about John Grisham – his books, that is, not the man himself. Miss Prim has taken advantage of the buy-one-get-one-free offer at the local WH Smith store; this means that, come Christmas day, her sister will also be unwrapping Grisham’s new book.


Miss Prim always shops in this way. Her mother and auntie will each receive a bottle of perfume, snapped up in a three-for-two offer. The third bottle of perfume will be living on Miss Prim’s own dressing table.


Assembled gifts


Mr Sunshine throws the bauble at the last parcel, and Mrs I-Know-Everything-That-Goes-On-Around-Here is handed a small, bulky package. She tears off the cheerful wrapping paper, and finds a pretty porcelain dish, piled high with sweets, all individually wrapped. Mrs I-Know-Everything-That-Goes-On-Around-Here rummages through them, delighted with the assortment of sherbet lemons, chocolate eclairs, humbugs, toffees, and pear drops.


Mr Bounce bought the dish at a car boot sale during the summer, and, knowing about Mrs I-Know-Everything-That-Goes-On-Around-Here’s penchant for pretty things, he decided to give it to her. The sweets cost him just a few pounds.


This year, Mr Bounce has bought a pencil case for each of his three nieces. He’s filled the pencil cases with an exciting selection of pens, pencils, rubbers, highlighters, and other classroom paraphernalia, building unique gifts that suit each recipient’s personality.


From novelty or hand-crafted gifts to re-gifting and multi-buy shopping, there are so many great ways to make sure that everyone receives a great Secret Santa gift without spending a fortune. And it doesn’t have to be limited to the office. Clever gift-buying is a fantastic way to relieve some of the financial demands of the season – freeing you up to relax and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year even more!