9 perfect gifts for when you're stuck playing Secret Santa with people you don't like (or know)
Pick the least offensive presents for that toxic boss, annoying cousins, new hires and padosis
The only Christmas tradition that’s more competitive than state elections is the Great Secret Santa gift exchange. And if you’ve been a part of this I-want-gifts-but-nobody-gifts-me-anything-so-let’s-scheme tradition, you know the bitter truth of life: favouritism is real.
The moment the chits are drawn, a bunch of most-wanted names pop up in your mind – your Secret Santa wish list.
Unfortunately, when the name on the chit dishonours your wish, you’re forced to bring cheer to your not-so-secret Satan of a coworker, the neighbour who threatens to report your house parties and your least favourite cousin who spiked your conditioner with superglue this Diwali. That knot is still fresh.
As a result, the gifting process becomes a chore, and is often resolved by a thoughtless gift card, or vouchers that expire on Christmas, leaving you with a Bad Santa tag.
But this year has been bad enough, so we did the groundwork for you and put together a thoughtful gift guide, albeit tinged with subtle notes of passive aggression — face mask for your frenemy, ‘ugly’ Christmas sweaters, an overachiever’s planner and more.
PS: Some gifts may arrive during the Christmas weekend, but you know what they say, “Better late than never”.
The Secret Santa gift guide to escape awkward moments this Christmas
For Hema from HR who loves rangolis and hates you
The bad rep the HR department garners is an occupational hazard. We ignore their mails and seasons’ greetings, but can’t ghost them when they are our giftees.
The Ink Bucket’s 2021 planner shoulders your burden of expressing how much you care for their meticulous planning and their love for lists, sheets and data. The accomplishment planner also comes with sections like ‘weekly reflections’, ‘vision boards’, ‘gratitude pages’ and ‘appointment plans’. Help them organise their lives, and indirectly yours, better.
The Ink Bucket; ₹1,899
The fresh recruit you’ve never met
Blame it on the year, guys, and know that it’s been tough on the new employees, too. They have joined your company remotely, and have only seen your resting Zoom face. This is your chance to extend a hand of friendship and give them warm welcome. Don’t miss this opportunity; make them feel at home with this Relax Bundle.
The care package — lavender body lotion, sugar scrub, and rose and coconut whipped soap — is loaded with good vibes only and screams R&R.
Brown Living; ₹847
The boss you imported from hell
Your boardroom encounters are nothing but daily agnipariskhas. Presently, your posterior is on fire after you picked his or her name in the draw. Ironically, your boss is the only one who knows whether you’ve really been naughty or nice this year. And although he is the reason for that bad case of Mondays, it’s time to be the bigger person.
Acknowledge that he or she helps you grow as an individual, and gift them a lucky bamboo shoot that well, grows. Throw in a personalised card to show the extra effort you put in.
Ferns N Petals; ₹649
The overcritical chacha
For all the lectures on sanskaar, reams of fake news and reminders that you’ve disappointed the family in ways only known to him, we can’t help but prescribe a gift that screams, ‘Okay, Boomer’.
Buy him a jar of Boomer ( the ’90s favourite chewing gum for a great jaw workout and hopefully a few precious moments of silence) and Ikea’s 17-piece tool kit because, let’s face it, he’s the self-appointed Mr Fix It of the family.
This will ensure he is busy repairing things, and staying off WhatsApp. One can hope for a Christmas miracle, after all.
Your BFF’s date of the month
You’re happy that your bestie has found a ‘holidate’, but equally annoyed that you have to buy the stranger something more memorable than their fling itself.
You’ve already made some small talk, and that’s half your job done at making him feel welcome. Gift him Mint & Oak’s festive sock box to spread some cheer to his Christmas wardrobe. It’s also a gift that comes with sound advice for the future if things don’t work out: just sock it up, dude, and move on.
Mint & Oak; ₹999
The neighbour who steals your WIFI
Thanks to lockdown, we’ve encountered neighbours more often our favourite bartenders. Some padosis have been nice enough to send over a plate of pakoda during monsoon and mithai dabbas during Diwali when you were home alone. But some stayed true to their Grinchy ways and have reported you to the building secretary every time someone visited you.
Unfortunately, your building’s Whatsapp group members have decided to play Secret Santa and your least favourite neighbour is your pick.
Gift the neighbour a new hobby or water their existing plant-parenthood with a Microgreen Seed Kit (13 seed pouches, including cabbage, spinach, basil and pak choy seeds). It demands attention and time — maybe now auntyji will stop spying on you.
All That Grows; ₹600
The frenemy you can’t ignore
This one’s tough. We all have them — those indispensables in your peer group you can’t stop rolling your eyes at, yet creep on every Insta story of theirs the minute it’s posted. Somehow they are always a part of your Secret Santa gift exchange draw.
And now, you’re begrudgingly gift-hunting for them. Well, you can make things passive-aggressive by gifting them the ugly Christmas sweater – stitched with the season’s warmth, but with a thread of ugliness.
Or play it clever by gifting them a self-care package masked with a secret message: Mamaearth face mask. The C3 Face Mask is loaded with goodness of coffee, charcoal and clay. For all the times you wear a mask of civil behaviour, let them wear cover their face in one that they’ll absolutely love.
The secret shaitan of a cousin
In the famous words of Karan Johar, “It’s all about loving your family”. Or at least tolerating them during festive fam jams. Sitting comfortably atop this festive family chain are the cousins who have caused you enough childhood trauma, by stealing and breaking your favourite toys, scoring big in Maths and AIEEE, setting higher standards than Shaarma ji ka beta, and putting on a stronger Sanskari facade than you could ever pull off.
Keep this cousin calm with the Botanicals Cocktail Kit (recipe cards for cocktails, a cocktail shaker, a peg measurer, herbs from Botanicals range and a bar snack) hoping that they’ll overuse it, and pass out before they can reveal your best-kept secrets or crack yet another practical joke at your expense.
Tea Trunk; ₹999