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The worst Secret Santa presents ever

Posted by Tom West on Dec 15th, 2015 | Running a business

A present | The worst Secret Santa presents ever | Crunch

Nothing says ‘Christmas cheer’ like having to march into town (in the freezing cold), barging through zombie mall-dwellers to choose a present for someone from another department who you’ve probably only spoken to once.

Yes, Secret Santa has over the years become a workplace institution – but despite entire websites being dedicated to picking out that perfect gift, it can still tend to be a bit of an anticlimax when you unwrap your parcel, even for people working in a smaller team.

So how can you ensure your business’ Secret Santa isn’t just a bland flop this year?

The ‘Steal’ Option

Also known as ‘White Elephant’ in the States, this is a twist on the traditional rules, whereby the person whose turn it is to open a present can either take their unopened allocated gift, or instead steal one someone else has already opened. To avoid everyone fighting over the one good present, each gift can be stolen twice before it becomes “locked”.

The Free-for-all

Rather than picking out names, just buy a present, whack it in the middle and everyone grabs a parcel they like the look of. Once everyone’s opened their gifts, allow for a few minutes of bartering. This also doubles up as a great little icebreaker if you have colleagues who don’t chat too often.

Naff gifts all round

My friends back home partake in this annual tradition of buying literally the worst thing you could possibly find, that the recipient will actively hate. One of the less grateful participants ended up quitting the whole thing after receiving Jeremy Beadle’s autobiography five years in a row and someone one year received a kids’ tricycle and had to lug it around the pub all evening.

I look forward to seeing the look on the face of my friend this year when she opens her ‘signed Nigel Farage photo’ I managed to find for a fiver on ebay. While nobody actually wants the present they receive, at least the playing field is levelled, expectations are low, and nobody ends up disappointed.

What’s the worst Secret Santa gift you’ve ever received?

This will be my first Christmas at Crunch HQ, where we have over 160 employees. Mercifully, we’ll be keeping this year’s Secret Santas to the discretion of each department. But out of curiosity, I asked my esteemed colleagues here at Crunch HQ what memorably naff presents they’d received over the years, with some cracking results, and some recurring themes.

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Sam S: My worst one was a 4 pack of Red Bull, I like Red Bull, but still…


I was once given a bag of bird feed. I’ve never expressed (nor have) any interest in birds – and it was just a plastic bag of bird food. No feeder with it or anything.


A framed picture of a colleague in an Italian drag bar with a drag queen stood behind him, only…my face had been imposed on the drag queen.

A cheap notebook with a horse on the cover. Horses are OK, I guess, but I’d made no allusions to an opinion on them. It was totally unrelated to anything.

Ben H: I got this book with photos of toilets in once. Absolute shit. PUN!

A plastic Dennis the Menace toy slingshot that had clearly been used before. I was a 26 year old woman – I still don’t understand what went through their head at the time!
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I once saw an irate person who had spent over the required amount and wrapped something impeccably, only to be given a box of 6 mince pies from Aldi that were well past their best before date.

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A pack of plastic “racing willies” that still reside on my desk.

Bobby: Occasionally I have received emails commencing ‘Hi Booby’ (freudian slip?). My present a few years back was a pair of fake breasts – which I have NEVER found a use for.


An extra large ceramic pot in the design of a shoe for house plants. Wasn’t impressed!


I know someone who received a 75p reindeer antler headband, when they were supposed to spend £5 per gift.

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Sam W:
Black leather flat cap. Sent unironically. The type of hat worn only by male strippers with a bondage or chimneysweep theme.


Marc B
: My mate got a plastic test tube shot glasses that came in a rack. He never used them or bothered to find out who gave them to him.

Cara square
I once got a scratch card that won me £2 but didn’t have any ID on me, and the shop wouldn’t let me cash it in. That was pretty disappointing – not necessarily the gift giver’s fault, though!
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A friend of mine once received several bars of Lidl brand Lard. He was a bit upset…

Andrew Tyrrell

Andy T:
Edible panties (for me!) – pina colada flavoured to be precise. Also, 2 coasters – somebody from Crunch got me these, so apologies… but c’mon!

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Jack: Any deodorant or shower gel pack I always think are terrible as other than being completely mundane, it gives off the impression you are implying they are a bit smelly.
laura salmon
I always feel like someone is trying to say something to me when they give me a multipack pack of shower gel as a secret Santa present. Do I smell?? This has happened a couple of times before.

A pack of Lynx shower gel and deodorant. I think there was a message there.

Just a can of deodorant.

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