Millennials Vow To Dump Workplace Secret Santa

17 Dec, 2019 Chriss Swaney


Sarasota, FL ( - It may not be so merry for the workplace Secret Santa tradition this year if millennials have anything to say about it. A new European survey reports that millennials find the Secret Santa trend to induce too much stress and should be eliminated.  

British job-hunting website Jobsite reported that 78 percent of millennials felt they contributed “more than they should’’ to an office party gift compared to 58 percent of the rest of the workforce, while 26 percent  of millennials admitted to dipping into savings or over-drafting their accounts to fund an office gift. The study also found that they “felt judged’’ by their co-workers for their gift choice.

Stephanie Wilsey of Carlow University said she is not surprised with this new survey about millennials.  “This is the generation that grew up during a recession and are very observant when it comes to financial matters,’’ said Wilsey, the dean of the College of Leadership and Social Change.  “This generation is also very sensitive about being judged by peers as the survey found,’’ she added.  

Wilsey also pointed out that it is the millennial generation that is also now questioning whether to spend money to send their children to college, preferring to opt for trade and vocational training schools.  As a result, colleges nationwide are seeing declining enrollments.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the demographic cohort following Generation X and preceding Generation Z.  Researchers and popular media use the early 1980s to early 2000s as ending birth years, with 1981 to 1996 a widely accepted definition.

Audrey Guskey, an associate professor of Marketing at Duquesne University, also said she was not surprised with the survey.  “Millennials expect their Christmas shopping to be easy, convenient, and fun. They do most of their shopping with a click and a drop off at their door,’’ said Guskey.

The Secret Santa trend started years ago before online shopping was the norm. Industry experts claim it was started to help relieve some of the anxiety of Christmas shopping by requiring gift-givers to only buy one gift instead of many for party attendees, family or co-workers.  “The problem is that Secret Santas are now expected to give the perfect gift, at least in the eyes of millennials, thus the stress, ‘’ said Guskey.

“Unlike the original purpose of the Secret Santa, of eliminating some of the holiday hassle, it has now become major pressure for them in comparison to their older counterparts from the Baby Boomer generation who enjoy the hunt for the gift – and it doesn’t have to be the perfect present, ‘’ according to Guskey.

Still, industry watchers say there are some advantages to the Secret Santa as a way to thank co-workers for being there in trying times, like at 8 a.m. before your first cup of coffee or right after your failed presentation.

But Doug Varnum, a millennial from Pittsburgh, said he hates the Secret Santa gig because he got a cache of frozen dinners last year that could only be used in a microwave. And Varnum argues that he does not own a microwave. “It’s a bunch of wasted time and effort,’’ Varnum said.

Retailers would beg to differ. The Secret Santa trend made cash registers ring to the tune of more than $1.2 million last season, according to the U.S. Commerce Dept.


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    About The Author

    • Chriss Swaney

      Chriss Swaney is a freelance reporter who has written for Antique Trader Magazine, Reuters, The New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, the Burlington Free Press, UPI, The Tribune-Review and the Daily Record.

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