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Secretly hating Secret Santa – one in five have ‘fallen out’ over a gift

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One in five workers have fallen out with a colleague – over the office ‘Secret Santa’, it has been revealed. Researchers found that workers have been left ‘upset’ or ‘embarrassed’ after being handed an unsuitable or inappropriate gift by a colleague.

And more than one in ten even went so far as to say they felt ‘insulted’ by a colleague’s present.

Less than half of those polled actually felt pleased with their Secret Santa gift.

More than four in ten also said they would appreciate a thoughtful gift or something that was personal to them, rather than inappropriate or joke presents.

Jens Neumann, Product Marketing Manager at Vistaprint, which commissioned the research, said:

”Ironically, it seems that the Christmas gift tradition could be bringing more upset than team spirit and cheer in some workplaces.

”Secret Santa, especially in the workplace, can be a minefield – there is such a fine line between a joke or novelty gift and one that is just insulting or upsetting to its recipient.

”You don’t have to spend a lot to buy a good present for a colleague.

”Showing some thought and consideration to the individual, it is possible to buy something personal and useful that will be appreciated.”

The study of 2,000 workers who partake in a Secret Santa found that being bought an embarrassing present is the most likely cause of being left insulted or upset by a gift.

22% have been caught off guard by an ‘offensive’ present that took a personal joke too far, while another one in five have been left feeling annoyed because they didn’t have enough money spent on them.

Another 17% of workers were left fuming after being handed a gift that they considered too sexual or inappropriate in front of their colleagues and boss.

Other reasons for falling out with a colleague included gifts which were insulting, broke the rules and even because the presents were too expensive.

Some have got it so wrong, their boss has got involved, with one in twenty employees admitting they have been given a formal warning after buying someone an inappropriate present in the workplace Secret Santa.

Furthermore, 13% know a colleague who has been given a formal warning for buying a tasteless gift.

But the reasons given for feeling upset or annoyed with their gifts differed significantly between men and women.

While over a quarter of women cited that not enough money was spent on their gift, 28% of men said it was due to a joke being taken too far.

The rage may be justified thought as three in ten admitted to spending as little as possible on their gift, with the average worker spending just £9.58 on each present.

A quarter of participants have even forgotten to buy a gift at all, leaving colleagues empty-handed during the Secret Santa handover.

And 64% admitting to cutting it fine on occasion by leaving it until the last minute to buy their Secret Santa gift – with men most likely to get it right before they are due to exchange presents.

It also emerged that of those lucky enough to receive a Secret Santa gift, a cheeky 40% have tried to sell or even re-gift a present because they didn’t like it.

The results show that one in four said it felt ‘like a chore’ to buy for someone they don’t know and over half felt dread or pressured when in this situation.

And while a large number of Brits are happy to take part in their Secret Santa, 28% only do so because they are forced into it.

Another 39% don’t want to opt out and seem like a scrooge.

But it’s not such a ‘secret’ Secret Santa for most, with 68% admitting they usually know who is behind their present by the time they get to open it.

Jens Neumann, Product Marketing Manager at Vistaprint added:

”At Vistaprint we have witnessed first-hand the growing popularity of these types of gifts.

”Sales of our personalised desk calendars have been growing over the last few years and personalised phone cover sales are expected to increase by over 60% during this Christmas period.

”Products like this take just a few minutes to create online and can be delivered straight to your door which is ideal for busy workers on the hunt for the perfect Secret Santa present.”


1. They bought an embarrassing present
2. They took a joke too far
3. They didn’t spend enough money
4. It was insulting
5. It was too sexual or inappropriate to be given in work or from a colleague/boss
6. They didn’t take it seriously
7. It was bought just to take the mick out of me
8. They bought something they knew I wouldn’t like
9. They didn’t adhere to the Secret Santa rules
10. They spent too much money on it