Deck the halls with boughs of holly
‘Tis the reason to be jolly 

It’s not that difficult to imagine how an office Christmas party might get out of hand and many of you will remember last year’s post about Mr Keenan. However, short of truly cringeworthy or inappropriate gifts (sex toys and the like…. does this still happen?), you might expect that the humble Secret Santa between work mates would be in the right spirit and generally be a source of goodwill…. apparently not.

In 2012, there was a secret santa in the office of the Finance Department in Canberra. One worker’s kris kringle gift to his work colleague was a toy reindeer which pooped chocolate. I would have thought that might elicit a smile or two. However, the gift’s recipient (now a former analyst) interpreted it as a commentary on the quality of his work which implied that his economic modelling was “reindeer pooh”. Feeling targeted, humiliated and traumatised at the “soul destroying” prank, the analyst reluctantly accepted a redundancy from his position about 6 months later.

This case received coverage in the press at the time and also prompted a November 2015 directive from the Australian Public Service Commission about work-related end-of-year functions which, the APS reminded its members “are a time for colleagues to come together and celebrate the festive season“. However, public service employees were also encouraged to be mindful of: “buying ‘Secret Santa’ gifts on the assumption that everyone shares the same sense of humour“.

Shout out to Mariette Lewis for finding this story for me. Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.

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