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Five ways to make your Secret Santa a success

Avoid tears with our tips on secret gift-giving

The most annoying (or possibly the most brilliant) thing about Secret Santa giving is the whole secret bit.

You can spend days of your life finding the perfect present for a friend, a colleague or a family member, something that is both incredibly thoughtful and amazingly under budget and not get a jot of credit for it.

Alternatively you can wander into a pound shop – or whatever they are called nowadays – pick up some useless plastic tat that is utterly inappropriate, wrap it badly and hand it over, safe in the knowledge you are never going to have to face the music for getting someone you are supposed to care about such a rubbish present.

The next most annoying thing about the whole notion is the name – or should we say names? Do you call it Secret Santa? Or Chris Kindle? Or Kris Kindle? Or Kris Kringle? It can also be known as Amigo Secreto or Amigo Invisible, depending on where you are in the world.


Which takes us right up to date. Kris Kindle for years has been popular in Irish offices – not in The Irish Times where we have no time for such frivolity – and increasingly it has made its way into our homes, as people have cottoned on to the idea that it is just stupid to buy presents for everyone in your family when you can instead buy just one.

But while the notion is increasingly popular in Ireland, it is still possible to make a pig’s ear of it, which is why we thought some tips might help you navigate the secret-gifting minefield.

1 Always stick to the price limit. Nobody will thank you if you give someone a gift of a trip to New York when the ceiling was clearly set at €30. Well, the recipient will be delighted but everyone else will hate you.

2 In one of the earliest and best episodes of The Simpsons, Homer buys Marge a bowling ball, despite the fact she hates bowling, and makes sure the holes fit his chubby fingers. Don't copy him and always bear in mind you are buying for someone other than yourself, so establish what they like and work from there.

Regifting is perfectly acceptable but please make sure you don't give someone something they have already given you. That is both rude and mortifying.

4 Be very careful with jokey presents that highlight a person's foibles or comes with the slightest risk of upsetting someone. What seems like an absolutely hilarious jape when you're standing in the shop might cause floods of tears on Christmas morning or lead you straight to the HR manager if it is an office set-up.

5 And finally, be a good sport when you open your present. It may not be something you love. It may, in fact be something you hate, but it's the thought that counts, right?