When I was fresh out of college, a few years ago (ok, more than a few), I had a job at a consulting company. To make things more fun, they had a party committee. One holiday season, they set up a Secret Santa gift exchange and decided to do a theme. Fun, right? Absolutely. They were fun people!
But the theme they chose was British TV dramas of the 1980’s. Needless to say, not everyone knew what this theme encapsulated, much less found it fun and enjoyable. As a result, we ended up scrapping the theme entirely. It was fun, but still kind of scattershot.
But you can have both. You can have a fun Secret Santa theme that is fun and welcoming for everyone. Here are nine of the best office-safe Secret Santa theme ideas to get your holiday season started.
A Few Notes on Secret Santa Themes
Before we get started, I have to make clear that a Secret Santa theme isn’t a law. In a large office, there will be people who just aren’t into the theme. So, here are some guidelines to make it more universal.
- Select a broad theme. If you pick, say, your favorite TV show, remember that not everyone watches it. It’s not 1978 when everyone was watching M*A*S*H. So, choose a broad theme.
- Don’t make people uncomfortable. Some themes could make people feel dread and revulsion run down their spine. But also watch out for things that are too geared toward any specific group. Your office is diverse. Embrace that instead of alienating people.
- Give an opt-out. People don’t have to play the theme. No matter how broad the theme is, there may be someone who just wants socks. That’s fine! It’s their Secret Santa right to get the gift they want. Let everyone know that they can make their list with the theme or disregard it.
Got those guidelines in mind? Great! Let’s get to the themes.
9 Office-Safe Secret Santa Ideas for Your Work Party
Here are our favorite Secret Santa theme ideas for work parties:
We live in the Golden Age of fandom. If you like a show, there’s a fanbase for it. If you love a movie, there are people who love it just as much. If you adore a band, you can get some band gear. So, why not have a Secret Santa party based on your passions?
A fandom theme means you pick from your favorite pop (or non-pop) cultural fandom and make a wish list. Think Star Wars gifts, Harry Potter gifts, or even Super Hero gifts.
Remember, you shouldn’t make your theme just, say, Star Wars. Not everyone digs that, and that’s fine. Let people explore their own fandom.
In many newer offices and start-ups, workers are increasingly concerned about their impact on the environment. But there are great eco-friendly gift guides that let everyone get cool things while contributing to a cleaner, greener planet. Some of these gifts include bamboo tumblers, bento boxes, and vegan purses.
Every office runs on caffeine. Coffee is always a big topic of conversation throughout the day. So why not make it a theme? A coffee-themed gift guide includes fun mugs and tumblers of all shapes, sizes, and attitudes. You don’t even have to be a coffee drinker to want a new cup for whatever gets you through the day. This is great because it will give people something practical and show off their personality.
Print is not dead. Books are more popular than ever, and it seems like everyone is in a club (sometimes following celebrity book picks). If you have an office full of readers, a book-themed gift exchange makes for a party full of possibilities. Use a book gift guide to comb through novels, novelizations, histories, self-help guides, biographies and memoirs, graphic novels, and more. Learn about your co-workers by giving them something for their nightstand.
Many offices promote wellness. They want their employees to be healthy and happy, and wellness programs are often part of the benefits landscape. So, consider a theme around that. Don’t worry—wellness gift guides aren’t just full of celery. They include gift ideas like aromatherapies, office-friendly weight sets, and desk-appropriate exercise equipment. They help you do good while being well.
You spend 8 hours a day in the office (at least), so you should have nice things there. An office-themed gift guide will give you ideas for fancy Macbook skins, artistic notebooks, small desk fountains, beautiful mousepads, and more. Everyone will have a chance to bring a little more of themselves to their workstation.
In the Kitchen
Not everything has to be about the office, of course. More and more, people love to cook at home. Why not have nice things with which to cook? A kitchen-themed gift guide can help people bring in much better leftovers. With affordable cooking gear, lovely utensils, funny towels, and innovative cookbooks, you’ll soon have a fridge full of goodies. This is a Secret Santa theme that can birth a hundred potlucks.
A lot of people don’t like giving gift cards, but why not? You’re not just giving a card; you’re learning where a person likes to shop. You’re learning what someone is looking for. You’re giving them a chance to get exactly what they want or a way to make their shopping easier. A gift card gift guide isn’t just for stores either; you might learn their favorite restaurant or activity.
Remember “Operation?” Or “View Masters?” Everyone knows Mr. Potato Head and his whole ill-shapen clan. Classic toys are a great and goofy way to relive your childhood and fill every office with nostalgia. A classic toys theme has something for everyone, from a slinky to a desk basketball net. No matter how young or old your office is, everyone lights up at toys from their past. It’s their own private Rosebud.
Host an Office Secret Santa Party to Remember
Look, we get it. Office Secret Santas can be fraught with complications. You want everyone to be happy, and that can be challenging with a community that came together not-entirely-by-choice. People are together because of work. You have to be mindful of that.
As such, give everyone a guide on how to play and, to make sure everything goes smoothly, use an online generator that lets you create a shareable Secret Santa wish list that draws from multiple sites. The gift giver should be able to buy directly from the list. With a gift exchange wish list, you can create easy, anonymous ways for people to draw names and ask for exactly what they want.
It’s all about helping people enjoy the holidays. It’s about bringing people together through fun and whimsy. It’s about bonding. It’s about the thrill of receiving and the joy of giving. So, find a theme, get started with your Secret Santa, and create a holiday work party to remember.
The Elfster wish list generator makes office-safe Secret Santas easy for everyone. Our online Secret Santa generator gives life and ideas to your theme, making it easy to start a Wish List. Don’t forget that you can now participate in your office party via an iPhone app or Android app.