How to Nail Secret Santa This Year According to Brits

How to Nail Secret Santa This Year According to Brits

Read Time: 6 Minutes


25 Nov 2022

With Christmas just a few weeks away, shopping for loved ones will be high on the agenda for many. But with the rising cost of living squeezing our budgets, will we be quite as generous this year?

Rising energy prices have already impacted the way we work, with recent research indicating that 45% of us are heading into the office to save on essentials like heating. 

To uncover whether or not we’re willing to loosen our attitude (and purse strings) for our beloved workplace gifting traditions, such as secret Santa, we quizzed 2,000 UK office workers to find out their plans.


Should employees get a gift from the boss this year?

With energy prices rocketing this winter, a lump of coal in our stockings doesn’t seem like such a bad thing right now – but what do Brits really want from their employer?

man handing over a red gift box

Getting a gift for your employees is a nice gesture to show gratitude for all their hard work this year, and it’s also a luxury we might have gotten used to. Our survey found that 14% of employees expect their employer to fork out for a gift this Christmas.

On the other hand, many of our respondents were sympathetic to their employer’s plight; 1 in 5 UK workers who normally receive a gift from the boss don’t believe they will this year due to budget cuts.

Almost half (44%) of our survey respondents shared that they never receive a gift from the boss. Bah humbug!

Women were found to be more sympathetic to their employers, with a quarter (25%) of female workers saying they don’t expect a gift this year due to the cost-of-living crisis vs just 15% of men 

Similarly, men are also more likely than women to expect a gift from their employer (17% vs 10%).

Whether your team expects a gift or not could also have a lot to do with your office’s location, as Londoners were found to be the most likely to expect a gift from the boss (19.3%). This is compared with just 7% of workers in Cardiff!

infographic showing top and bottom five gifts employees want for christmas in 2022

Surprisingly, ‘absolutely nothing’ ranks as the fourth highest on the list of best corporate gifts, meaning if you are watching your money, your team might not be that upset by an empty stocking this year.

Additional holidays and vouchers also rank well, meaning we’re more inclined towards monetary gifts this year when compared with last year’s most desired presents, which consisted of chocolate, alcohol, candles and food-related gifts.

office desk with gold and red christmas presents

As the worst gift to receive, pet-related items would not be appreciated by your colleagues this Christmas. Maybe get something just for them to enjoy instead!

Adult-themed gifts, soft toys and underwear and socks are undeniably inappropriate to give to anyone at work, especially team members that you manage, so it’s not surprising that these items feature in the worst corporate gifts to receive in 2022.

Handmade gifts also ranked poorly – receiving just 0.4% of the vote vs the 10% weighting it received pre-pandemic.


Sacking off secret Santa?

Receiving a gift from your employer isn’t the only workplace Christmas tradition: will the beloved tradition of secret Santa fall to the wayside amidst rising bills?

An office secret santa exchange

We found that 17% of us are sacking off the office secret Santa this year due to the cost-of-living crisis. So, if you’re put in charge of rallying the troops, it would be wise to consider everyone’s situation and handle the organisation of any event that involves spending money delicately.

Setting your budget

For those that are taking part, you’ll also need to consider the budget carefully.

1 in 10 of our survey respondents said they were willing to spend £5 on secret Santa, and 13% will spend up to £10. These were the most common responses, so setting your budget between £5-10 is wise. 

Notably Scrooge-like, Sheffield employees are the most likely to sack off secret Santa this year (25%), followed by Cardiff (22%) and Liverpool (21%).

With just 9% of its workers shirking off this age-old tradition in 2022, Glasgow workers are the most likely to go ahead with the office secret Santa, followed by London (14%) and Norwich (15.5%).

secret santa budgets organised by industry

If you work in IT, it could be your lucky day. This industry is home to the biggest spending secret Santas, spending £18.80 on average – hopefully on the latest tech gadgets!

This is followed by the media and internet industry at £18.20 and business, consulting and management teams at £15.80.

On the other end of the spectrum, those in social care and teaching spend the least on their giftee, spending just £5.10 each.

Top Considerations for Corporate Gifting in 2022 – from Vicki, Head of Team Experience at instantprint

There are considerable pitfalls in present-buying for colleagues, now more than ever. But it’s not an impossible situation to manoeuvre. We asked Head of Team Experience at instantprint, Vicki, for her top tips.

Man in a Christmas jumper writing out a card

1. Don’t worry if you can’t lavish your team in gifts

As long as you show your team appreciation for all the hard work they’ve put in this year, they won’t care about how much you spend on a gift for them. The cost of living is affecting individuals and businesses, and the results of our survey show that the majority of staff empathise with employers. Even a handwritten card will go a long way!

2. Don’t expect a gift back 

If your team usually clubs together for a gift for the boss, this might not be a realistic expectation this year. But it doesn’t mean your employees don’t appreciate you. Equally, if you have received a present from your team, be aware that others might not have, so be tactful to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.

3. Keep to a realistic budget 

If you’ve been put in charge of planning a staff secret Santa, keep in mind that some team members might not be able to afford a big budget. It’s also important to expect that some colleagues may wish to opt out of secret Santa this year. Make it clear from the get go that taking part in any gift exchanges is optional.

4. Vouchers and money-based gifts will be much appreciated

If you are budgeting for a gift for your staff, a bonus or vouchers to use over the festive period may well be the most appreciated kind of gift this year if our survey results are anything to go by. For a more personal approach, why not give your team members vouchers for a shop or experience you know they’ll enjoy?



With everyone’s budgets being squeezed this winter, workplace celebrations might look a little different. However you’re celebrating this year, showing appreciation to your staff and colleagues doesn’t need to break the bank. Limiting your secret Santa spending or sending a handwritten card to your team are both excellent ways to spread Christmas cheer and take part in the office traditions so many of us love, albeit on a smaller budget.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Ally and I’m instantprint’s PR Lead. I enjoy writing content to help small businesses succeed and inspire them to get creative with their print marketing.