Secret Santa 2023: Cost of Living and UK Office Workers Confessions

Secret Santa 2023: Cost of Living and UK Office Workers Confessions

Read Time: 6 Minutes


10 Nov 2023

Christmas is just around the corner and with the workplace drawing closer to closing for the holiday period, there’s one last tradition to tick off before some much-needed Christmas rest and recuperation.

Secret Santa is a long-standing tradition that most workplaces tend to participate in. But with rising costs and employees looking to scrimp and save this Christmas, what can we expect?

We surveyed 1,000 UK office workers to get their thoughts on Secret Santa, whether it's a love or loathe and what they’d like to receive for Christmas this year. 


Santa’s Feeling the Cost of Living Crunch

Understandably, the cost-of-living crisis has got us all tightening our purse strings. We asked UK office workers if they planned on participating in Secret Santa this year.

47% shared, yes, I will be participating.

24% said no, I will not be participating and 29% shared that they’re still yet to decide.

Could it be that the inflation is leaving us to decide at the last minute if we want to stretch another £10 to give a gift to a co-worker we may not even like?

We also asked respondents if they actually liked participating in Secret Santa. 

Interestingly 75%, three-quarters of us, do actually enjoy the ritual of secret gift-giving but with only 47% planning on participating it’s clear to see that in 2023 we may have to put ourselves first.

21% of Brits shared that they don’t enjoy it but will still participate and only a mere 4% of office grinches shared that they don’t enjoy it and won't or don’t participate.


Over 90% Of Brits Dub Themselves Generous

We all love to feel appreciated, especially at Christmas but it seems that Brits are more aware of spreading the festive cheer instead of receiving it. We asked survey respondents if they prefer giving or receiving when it comes to participating in Secret Santa. 

It seems that UK office workers are super generous with 91% sharing that they prefer giving presents to receiving them. Only a mere 9% shared that they prefer receiving.

Who’s the more generous gender? It seems that our female co-workers are the most generous, 91% of female respondents shared that they prefer giving compared to just 87% of men, the remaining 13% of men shared that they prefer receiving compared to just 8% of women. 


Top 5 Things Brits Want for Christmas

We surveyed respondents to find out their ideal Secret Santa presents. We asked them to pick the 3 ideal gifts to receive in this year’s Secret Santa at work.


1. Chocolates or sweets

Nice and simple, it seems that 36% of us would be happy with this tasty and practical present.


2. Vouchers

Interestingly, vouchers were second on Brits' list. Whether it’s because we’re picky or feeling the pinch this Christmas, over a third of us would rather buy what we want instead.


3. Handmade gifts

With budgets being tighter and small businesses making their debut more over recent years, it seems over 27% of Brits are partial to a handmade gift.


4. Novelty, joke or humorous gifts

Forget being sentimental! Over 1 in 5 UK office workers just want to have a good laugh favouring novelty, joke and humorous gifts in their Christmas wish list.


5. Alcohol

As a nation that enjoys a festive tipple, it’s probably no surprise that alcohol places in the top 5 with a quarter of us picking it as our favoured gift option. Baileys anyone?

Our Secret Santa survey in 2022 shows that there’s been a huge shift in what workers want for Christmas. With more of a focus on value and practicality. Back in 2022, 16% of Brits simply wanted additional holidays with 6% interested in receiving nothing!



What Brits Don’t Want To Find in Their Stocking This Year

We’ve all been there. A co-worker buying us some questionable socks, soap on a rope or a terrible-smelling candle…

We went on to ask Brits what they don’t want to receive from Secret Santa this year. We asked survey respondents what their top 3 worst gifts to receive in Secret Santa are.


1. Toy, plush or teddy

Racking up 37% of votes, Brits are not interested in receiving a soppy toy, plush or teddy this year.


2. Adult or rude gifts

With 34% of votes, it seems that office workers aren’t looking to be embarrassed by an adult or rude gift for Secret Santa.


3. Smellies

If you want your recipient to enjoy their gift we’d recommend refraining from suggesting scents and soaps, with 30% of Brits sharing that they wouldn’t want smellies for Christmas.


4. Alcohol

As well as ranking in Brits most favoured, 22% shared that they wouldn’t like alcohol as a gift. Whether they’re going sober or they’re already stocked up, alcohol isn’t on some office workers' list of desired gifts.


5. Candles

A Secret Santa staple, it seems the age-old gifting classic, candles, is no longer of interest. 22% of Brits wouldn’t be impressed with the scent of a ‘Crisp WInter Morning’.


Feeling The Pinch?

We asked our survey respondents if they felt that Secret Santa would be harder to participate in because of the cost of living crisis.

44% of respondents confessed that they think it will be harder to find something in their budget.

31% felt that it’s easy to find good gifts if you know where to look whereas a quarter of Brits believe it will be neither more or less difficult, it'll be the same as in previous years.

We also asked respondents how much they plan to spend on their Secret Santa gifts this year.


I don’t spend anything 3%
£0 - £5 9%
£5 - £10 49%
£10 - £20 26%
£20 -  £30 3%
£30 - £40 3%
£40 - £50 4%
£50 + 2%


With the cost of living impacting many of our spending habits, it seems that Over 50% of Brits will be on a budget of £10 and under this year. An admirable quarter of us are willing to spend between £10 and £20 but only 12% would be willing to spend more than £20.

Who’s spending more? We delved deeper into spending habits to see which age group are most likely to spend the most and least. Over a quarter of 65+ year olds are only willing to spend a mere £5 and 6% of 45-54 year olds aren’t looking to spend a penny. It seems the older generation is less likely to cough up when it comes to corporate fun.

Compared to 50% of 18-24-year-olds who would happily spend up to £10 and 40% of 25-24-year-olds who would spend at least £20, it seems the younger generation are the most generous.


Bin It or Flog It?

We asked our survey respondents what they would do if they received something they didn’t like in Secret Santa.

A kind 21% of respondents shared that they would keep it regardless.

A clever 32% shared that they would happily re-gift it to someone else.

A charitable 24% would donate it to charity or a Christmas raffle.

Only 3% would consider selling it online for a profit.

A less-responsible 1% would consider binning it!


Shocking Christmas Party Confessions

What’s the worst Secret Santa gift you’ve ever received? Do you have any top tips for saving money on gifting this year? Let us know your thoughts on social media by using #instantprintuk!


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.