Secret Santa and Christmas Friend refer to secret gift exchanges some may participate in with their colleagues at work. Secret Santa is the American term for this exchange, while Christmas Friend is more commonly used in India (especially Kerala).
So, what can you buy for your colleague for these gift exchanges? There are some cross-cultural tips we can apply to considering what to get our colleagues for the secret gift exchange.
Americans tend to prefer personalized gifts. Something based on their hobbies or interests that they may like. It should be a gift for that person him or herself, and not for their children or family member.
So, how do we get to know what our colleagues like? This is where making small talk throughout the year can really help. Learn about what sports, hobbies or interests colleagues have. Sometimes if we are friends with a colleague who is not the person we have chosen for Secret Santa, we can ask that person for tips, as long as he or she doesn’t tell others who we have chosen!
Ideas for gifts in the U.S.A. include:
Gifts I have received for Secret Santa in the past:
Ideas for Christmas Friend Presents in India
I heard that in India, people do not prefer to receive eatables, sweets, cookies or chocolates from their Christmas Friend. I also do not remember seeing anyone receiving this from their Christmas Friend. Instead, small gift items purchased at the ‘fancy store’ are preferred. It is also accepted to buy gifts for colleagues children or family members.
Take note, team members of any religious background (Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jain, Sikh) can take part in the gift exchange, so it’s ideal to keep all gifts secular in nature.
Gifts I saw others receiving:
Gifts I have received from my Christmas Friend:
Items to avoid giving as Secret Santa gifts to Indian colleagues:
(Help me fill in this list!)
How to buy gifts for colleagues we rarely meet or talk to?
If the team doesn’t meet frequently, is a distributed or co-located team, a great idea is to implement a short questionnaire before the Secret Santa or Christmas Friend names are picked. The survey can ask about hobbies and interests favorite music, sports, actors, or movies. When picking our secret gift recipient, we would also get this survey to learn more about that person.
What kinds of gifts are typical to receive or give for Secret Santa or Christmas Friend in your experience? Please share your feedback in the comment section below.
Jennifer Kumar, author of this post, helps build co-located, distributed and offshore/onsite teams through innovative coaching and training programs. Contact us for more information.
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