Secret Santa—the practice of drawing names via a hat or an app and purchasing a gift for that person under anonymity until the gift is revealed, sometimes with rules about a dollar value maximum—has become a common tradition at home and in workplaces around the holidays. It’s intended to be a fun idea to cope with sizable gift pools when buying for everyone is impractical. So why is everyone getting so stressed about it?
According to CBS Philly, the Secret Santa movement has prompted some Millennial-aged employees to feel anxiety over how their gift will be interpreted by others. The data comes from British employment resource Jobsite, which polled 4000 workers including 1054 aged 23 to 38 and found 78 percent of the younger workers believed they spent more than they were comfortable with in an effort to not appear stingy. This was true for Secret Santa and other office celebrations, like birthdays. Roughly a quarter of respondents also reported having to tap into other financial resources, like savings, in order to afford a gift.
Why the desire to overspend? Roughly 17 percent of Millennials polled said that someone in their office had commented on the dollar value of their gift. One-fifth of participants said they’d be happy to see Secret Santa banned from the workplace.
Often, Secret Santa events have financial caps where gifts are expected not to exceed a certain dollar amount. Owing to the frequency of other work occasions, workers responding to the Jobsite survey still feel overburdened.
Even with rules in place about spending, employees have reported feeling stressed about their gift choices, as Secret Santa exchanges are usually discussed or performed with the office as an audience. Sometimes workers use the event as an excuse to hand over joke gifts that may not stick the landing owing to poor taste.
The best Secret Santa protocol? Abide by a dollar amount, be boring—gift cards are virtually critic-proof—and try to use the practice as the relationship-building exercise employers intend for it to be, as it’s probably not going anywhere. Despite their issues, 61 percent of the Jobsite respondents think it’s good for morale.
[h/t CBS Philly]