Christmas survival guide: Secret Santa 7 years ago

Christmas survival guide: Secret Santa

As the week before Christmas begins, we bring you a series of pieces on surviving the holiday period. Kicking us off: the dreaded office Secret Santa.

Christmas gift buying is difficult at the best of times. The run around the shop on Christmas Eve or, even worse, the run around the petrol station forecourt on Christmas Eve, can be torture.

Even if you've planned ahead and order online - which you'll have done by now, right? - your hopes of a stress-free gift buying experience can be scuppered by missed deliveries and the interpretation of the phrase “fragile” by the world’s postal employees.

At least if you are buying presents for a loved one, or for a relative who may pop their clogs soon and give you their house, it is worthwhile. You can put up with it. It can be endured for the greater good and for seasonal harmony over the turkey. You may even enjoy it sometimes.

But when you have to buy something for Dave in marketing, who you spoke to once on a staff night out, it’s a different matter. All you can remember about him is that he smells of cabbage and his stuff in the communal fridge looks like nuclear waste in a Tupperware jar.

Kris Kindle is truly the cockroach of the nuclear-like disaster that struck Ireland

This is where the dreaded office Secret Santa or Kris Kindle kicks in. No greater scourge has ever been visited upon your workplace than this. Back in the good old Celtic Tiger days this ‘tradition’ came into offices like water coolers and ergonomic furniture.

But even though we are now back to drinking tap water and sitting on chairs that suck the fun out of functional, Kris Kindle has weathered the storm. He is truly the cockroach of the nuclear-like disaster that struck Ireland.

Here are some tactics to evade the dreaded search for something to buy a 45-year-old divorced legal secretary who you think is called Emily.

Fake religion: You can copy the lads on 30 Rock and come up with a fake religion that prevents you from taking part in the ceremony. The writers on 30 Rock called themselves Verdukians. To check if anyone in your office watches Tina Fey’s masterpiece, just wear a trucker hat like Frank with the words 'Liz Lemon' on it. For a week.

If no one says, “Hey I love that show”, you are home free.

Plead poverty: If you drop enough hints about the Budget, the cost of paying all those different direct debits to dog charities and the payments to keep your ill mother in the home she loves so much they may leave you out of the accursed lottery through sympathy. If you are very convincing they might even have a whip round for you so you can get a dig out like Bertie. Try not to look too guilty if this happens.

Leave: Yes, we know times are tough and it may look bad on your CV but we would advocate starting a new job every January and leaving in late November/early December just to avoid Secret Santa. We are deadly serious here.

It’s not too late if you take action now. But if you don’t heed our advice, don’t come crying to me when you're wandering around Lidl looking for some bath salts for under a tenner, or when you're trying to buy a Michael Buble calendar without anyone seeing you.

You can escape this tyranny; you just have to act now...