Could 2020 be the end of the traditional Secret Santa?

With Christmas 2020 due to leave many casualties in its wake, it looks like Secret Santa will be one of them. However, if you're usually left wondering what you're going to do with yet another novelty mug, you might not be too concerned.

No Secret Santa to buy for will save you money at the very least. A study by instantprint revealed that the average sum paid out in 2019 by UK employees on workplace Secret Santas was £10 exactly. So, no Secret Santa will save UK workers a staggering £280 million combined! That's a lot of novelty mugs. In fact, it's 280 million Terry's Chocolate Oranges, 14 million Harrods' classic Christmas puddings, or even 350,438 iPhone 12s4s. We know what we'd rather have.

Treasured tradition or tedious task?

For some workers, Secret Santa is a bit of fun. A chance to have a laugh with your colleagues or show that you appreciate them. For others, it's just another thing on a long Christmas to-do list; a waste of money; more junk to find a home for; and a tradition that can have a bad impact on the environment.

The worst Secret Santa presents

Last year instant print asked the nation what the worst Secret Santa gifts they'd ever received were, and the nation didn't disappoint with their answers. A bundle of mini-cereal boxes (but not the whole packet of 10); a carrot sharpener and a jar of cream for animals with itchy skin topped the charts of the most bizarre and unwelcomed Secret Santa prezzies.

The survey also revealed the most hated Secret Santa gifts. Cheap jewellery took the top spot, with 82% of respondents stating it was the gift they would least like to see lying on their desk or under the Christmas tree. That was followed by rude gifts (79%) and make-up (66%). Soft toys came next, with homemade gifts (29%) and socks (28%) last on the list.

How can you do it differently?

Despite the obvious challenges, if you're still clinging onto the idea of a Secret Santa this year, there are ways to do it. Perhaps the easiest, and most feelgood way is to donate to a charity in your recipient's name. There aren't many people who won't feel a warm glow knowing that the money that is normally spent on junk is going to a far worthier cause.

Or why not give someone a practical gift? Whether that's getting some flyers printed out to help them with their new business, walking their dog for a month, or babysitting, giving up a bit of your time for someone else will no doubt be warmly received. If you're stuck for ideas, websites like Ungifted Secret Santa allow for recipients to choose from environmentally friendly, socially distanced gifts such as a personalised playlist or a month of memes.

But if you still want to do a more traditional Secret Santa there are ways to do it. Use an online tool like Draw Names to assign recipients and then hold a video call so you can watch each other open your presents. Be warned though – you'll have to have great acting skills if you open yet another novelty mug.

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