Step one: Ensure you have actually been invited to be part of an official Secret Santa arrangement and pull a name from a hat. This is imperative to the entire operation. I cannot stress this enough.
Step two: Become excited about your purchasee. This can be achieved by performatively faking an excited expression when reading the name, even if a moderate feeling of dread fills your chest. Even in larger groups, people’s memories can be surprisingly accurate and Jess from Marketing will absolutely remember your disappointed eyeroll.
Step three: Double-check that the budget is unreasonable. All Secret Santas are. It is important for the value to be either less than $5 or more than $50 to ensure purchasers are sufficiently stressed during the buying process. All part of the fun.
Step four: Brainstorm potential present ideas. All Secret Santa gifts must fall into one of three categories: novelty, instant rubbish, or wildly inappropriate. If you are an expert shopper you may find the elusive trifecta gift, which is usually found in the form of some sort of phallus-shaped mug.
Step five: Attend local shopping centre the day before the event in a panic. Rather than simply browsing stores, bustle around the complex sweating profusely and cursing the name of St Nick with each stride. Grab teenage retail staff by their collars and tersely whisper “help… me…” while they anxiously show you gifts out of the price range.
Step six: Allow your mind to completely empty itself of logic and reason, and sink into ridding yourself of any memory of who you are purchasing the present for. Once you have achieved a total state of panic, grab whatever small gift is within reach. Do not overthink it. In fact, do not think at all.
Step seven: You’ve now reached the final stage of the Secret Santa experience: the post-purchase doubt. Will this nipple-patterned pen get you in trouble with HR (who, as it happens, will be the recipient)? Is this tea towel really a good choice for your seven-year-old second cousin? Why did you yet again agree to be part of this charade? If these thoughts fill your mind — congratulations. You have finished the process and completed the cycle for another year. Happy holidays!
Stay tuned for more summer How To guides from Deirdre Fidge in the new year.