Career boost? Make use of Secret Santa

Banking on naff items won’t help you if you’re buying for the boss
You don’t have to splash too much cash to impress your superiors this Christmas.
With the Christmas party season reaching its climax this week, Brits are set to spend over £38m on Secret Santa gifts for their colleagues. And according to our recent poll of workers in the capital, Londoners are among the most generous, spending over £11 on their workmates on average.
Yet far from being a chore, our research shows that thousands are even using the opportunity to score points with the boss as Christmas bonuses are carved up, with nearly half of Londoners (48 per cent) admitting to spending more time, and nearly one third (31 per cent) spending more money, when buying for someone who has a say on their bonus.
And it’s millennials who are leading the charge, with half of 16-24 year olds saying that they’d spend more money if they were buying for their manager. But getting the right present for a boss or colleague can be much harder than buying for a loved one – after all, what do you buy the director who has everything, or the senior partner you’ve only spoken to twice?

BECOME A SUPER SLEUTH

If you don’t know your colleagues well, you could do a lot worse than turn sleuth and look for clues about their hobbies and interests. For example, do they spend their lunch break working out at the gym, or are they always at the water cooler talking about The X Factor? Take the time to ask about their weekends and holidays; it’ll help you to find the right gift while also showing that you’re a good listener.

SOCIAL INSPIRATION

If you’re still feeling uninspired, social media can be a great tool for gathering quick ideas. Curated collections provide a ready-made list of gift ideas, and if you’re connected with your colleagues on social media, even better. Pay attention to what they are liking and following and you can’t go too far wrong.

STICK TO THE BUDGET

Keeping to a fixed budget is one of the hardest parts of buying a Secret Santa present, and you don’t have to splash too much cash to impress. The most popular items this year include mobile phone cases, selfie sticks, DVDs, whoopee cushions and fake eyelash sets.
And online, it’s also never been easier to add personal messages or pictures to gifts – a great way to give basic items a bit of an edge if you know your colleagues well.

MANAGE YOUR SHOPPING TIME

It is important not to let your office Secret Santa get in the way of the rest of your Christmas shopping.
With something like 2m Londoners spending an average of 77 minutes commuting every day, shopping “on-the-go” for your Secret Santa gift could be the best use of time.
Why not use your morning commute to do the research? And you could even drop some questions subtly into conversation at the office to make doubly sure you’re buying the right gift. Then, making the most of otherwise wasted time, you could even use your journey home to do the present buying.
While you’re in the office, keep a notepad close to hand, and jot down any ideas that spring to mind. You could then look online, or browse through local stores on your lunch break.
It may take a bit of time and thought, but getting your Secret Santa right is well worth the effort. It could help you bank a lot of good will, and possibly even a bigger bonus.
Steve Heywood is a manager at eBay UK.

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