Diary of a busy practitioner, juggling work and family somewhere in England



In December 2021 I wrote a blog about the perils of Secret Santa without a shred of advice on how to overcome said peril. Two years later I’m here with some actual ideas to help you through it.

  1. Don’t take part.

It is a bold position to take but if you can get away with it, just don’t do it. Spend the money on a Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference bottle of Special Reserve Port (£9 with a Nectar card) and go and sit in front of the telly with it on your own/with people you aren’t paid to spend time with. Wonderful.

  1. Free gifts

If you are going to take part, consider free gifts. I don’t actually mean free gifts like the Irwin Mitchell pen I managed to put in my pocket earlier this year, but gifts that are free to you. I would give anything for someone to spend twenty minutes sorting the apps in my phone into folders. Or babysit my children.

  1. Stand4 Socks

I love this company. Socks are, apparently, one of the most requested items from homeless people and every time you buy a jazzy pair from this website, they donate a thick, antibacterial pair to someone in need. Perfect.

  1. Something they need

Spend a day or two watching (casually, not creepily) the person you have to buy for. What do they actually need? Are they eating their lunch out of an old biscuit tin, like I have been lately? How does their stationery game look? Is their phone case half broken? I’m loving the Spark Company’s mugs- not all appropriate for the workplace though, especially the one that at first glance looks like a flower. My favourites are “What Would Dolly Do” and “Riots not Diets”.

  1. Lots of little things

If you are worried that your £10 doesn’t look like it is going to stretch very far, I’m here to tell you that in Tesco you can get four Dairy Milks for £1.50- or 28 for £10.50. Has anyone ever bought a better Secret Santa gift than TWENTY EIGHT CHOCOLATE BARS? You would be a hero. Alternatively, go to the pound shop and buy ten items with your money. Or that awful website that seems to have come from nowhere this year, but you will have to wipe fragments of the hopes and dreams of the small children who made them off the items when they arrive. As long as you are OK with that.

  1. A book

It isn’t edible underwear (we decided two years ago that was no longer acceptable) but there is nothing better than a book, is there? My default purchase (if you don’t know what they would like) would be a Richard Osman one- and the most recent release (The Last Devil to Die) was one of the best of the series. I was actually obsessed by The Running Grave (the most recent Cormoran Strike book) earlier in the year too. For the Young People, there are a number of cookbooks based on TikTok cooking hacks and recipes. And, surely, a Grisham will always go down well with a lawyer.

  1. Something personalised

It still blows my mind that we can just order most things personalised these days. Obviously, my children still spend as much time as I did in every gift shop desperate to find a fridge magnet with their name on, but it really is unnecessary with so many personalised gifts available online. Is someone always moaning that their stapler is missing? Get them one with their name on!

  1. Just something nice

In my previous blog on this subject I referred to a colleague who was permanently emotionally scarred by getting a candle in a candle holder in the Secret Santa of (about) 1887 because (I think) she thought it meant people thought she couldn’t take a joke. But I think, with all the other things we have to think about at this time of year, this must have been a relatively isolated incident and it is perfectly acceptable to just get someone something nice that they can use. A bottle (eg Baileys currently £10 with a Nectar card in Sainsburys), a tin of biscuits (M&S snowy light up shortbread tin £10) or a plant (Beards & Daisies peace lily £10) would all - in my opinion- be delightful.

Happy Christmas everyone!