This year, Secret Santa might just be the real Grinch for European consumers feeling the cost of living pinch.
Secret Santa might be a beloved Christmas ritual for many, but it could potentially be the source of much added stress for some this year, as the cost of living across Europe continues to soar.
As a result, several consumers are reportedly planning to spend less on this year’s workplace and even family Secret Santa, if not opt out of it altogether.
According to a survey of 1,000 UK business professionals by Love2shop, about 27% of UK workers believe workplace Secret Santa to be a waste of money and time.
Teachers, people in the legal and media sector and IT professionals are particularly stressed out by it, with anywhere between 25% to 36% admitting so.
Only about 25% of UK workers seem to truly enjoy the ritual at work, with most of the others seemingly going along with it due to peer pressure or to avoid being known as the office Grinch.
About 31% of women seem to commit more fully to Secret Santa, and perhaps unsurprisingly, they are also the ones to fret more about what to get their recipients. On the other hand, only about 12% of men worried about it.
Londoners are most likely to feel stressed about gifting in the UK, with about 25% feeling burdened, compared to 21% in the North West. Scots particularly seem to dislike the game, with only about 5% claiming to enjoy it and 19% being actively stressed out about it.
Perhaps adding insult to injury is the fact that even after so much overthinking, most Secret Santa gifts are simply not seen as very useful, practical or enjoyable by their intended recipients.
In fact, 20% of UK workers believed that a gift card may be more appreciated, whereas 25% admitted that they never use their gifts.
The Appreciate Business Services poll across 10,000 customers also backs up this finding, with about 76% confirming that a voucher or gift card would be most appropriate to receive in workplace Secret Santa rounds.
How much to spend and what to give?
Another Love2shop poll of 2,000 UK workers revealed that the average amount spent on Secret Santa was a potentially reasonable £14 (€16.26). However, it’s almost an unsaid norm that most people are likely, if not expected, to spend quite a bit more than that.
This is particularly seen amongst the 18-24 age group, who spend £23 on average. In contrast, maybe due to less peer pressure, most people in the 55-64 age bracket spent a pocket-friendly £9.
But what exactly would make the ideal gift for these picky recipients? According to stationery and printing company Instaprint’s poll across 1,000 UK workers, most people would like to receive chocolates or sweets, alcohol, novelty gifts, vouchers and handmade gifts.
However, most people agree that stuffed toys, adult or rude gifts, perfumes and candles can safely be given a miss.
Could pre-loved gifts ease the cost of living pinch?
In recent years, second-hand gifting has also grown to be a trend, with Adevinta surveying 5,000 respondents across Spain, France, Netherlands, Italy, Belgium and Germany. According to the results, about 64% would consider giving a second-hand gift this Christmas.
One of the main reasons for this is to save money, as inflation has soared across several European countries in the last couple of years. However, the desire to buy local and sustainably produced goods was also another major factor, as well as to potentially find treasures like nostalgic and vintage items. Clothing and household items were some of the most frequently bought.
This could also explain why handmade gifts seem to have a soft spot this year for recipients – as they may be things that they themselves could consider gifting. However, a large chunk, about 40%, of people are still not convinced of the merits of second-hand gifting and shared that it was not for them.
With the majority of UK respondents wanting to scrimp on Secret Santa gifts, the second-hand marketplace could very well be the way to go from now on. This is also likely to help reduce wastage greatly, as most unwanted gifts either get thrown away, resold or regifted.
Is it time to rethink workplace festivities?
Tying in Secret Santa to other workplace Christmas festivities, 83% of UK workers would greatly prefer a Christmas bonus instead of a holiday party, according to Love2shop.
This seems to be increasingly the case at a time when most companies are also feeling the inflation pinch, forcing them to decide between bonuses and a party. As such, several organisations may choose the get-together, in an attempt to promote workplace culture and camaraderie.
However, this seems to often fall flat, as about 45% of workers highlighted inappropriate behaviour by drunk colleagues and stilted small talk as some of the biggest reasons they would steer clear of the seasonal do.
Another 24% would prefer not to socialise with colleagues outside of work. A number of workers nowadays also feel that workplaces should not be implementing “mandatory fun” events, such as team building sessions and more, outside of work hours.
In case they do spill over, several workers believe that they should be compensated for the additional time.
This was cemented by about 56% of workers sharing that they do not care about having a holiday party at all, with about 92% of workers wanting to have a say in whether they receive a bonus or have a gala.
Coming to the size of the bonus, most workers emphasised that they would be happy with as little as £110, with around 19% preferring that this came as a voucher or gift card.
Can’t we have both, we hear you ask? Unfortunately, only if you fall within what seems to be the luckiest 5% of workers who get both a bonus and a Christmas bash.
However, with inflation having likely peaked and the Bank of England seeming more open to cutting interest rates next year, Christmas 2024 could potentially see more jolly workplace festivities.