It’s almost always more of a hassle keeping a gift so super cheap, so here are some tips on making it as cheerful as possible...
No one's quite sure whose bright idea it was to subject most offices in the land to the now-ubiquitous Secret Santa, where you part with a small sum of money to get something in return you'll invariably leave on your desk/in the bin as you hurry towards the exit as the Christmas break kicks in, but it's all a good bit of Yuletide fun, apparently.
Considering people generally conceded that you can buy sweet FA with the usual limit, you'll either get some chocolate from a colleague on a remote floor that you've barely met before, a gag gift from someone who wants to preempt the mortification of exchanging presents by letting you know they're in on the joke, or you'll be told apologetically that "the first round's on me..." by a mate who pulled your name and couldn't be bothered wandering around Eason's on their lunch break in a daze.
There are deals to be done for under a fiver that will make you look all thoughtful, however. So if you're working to a €5 budget, take a deep breath and disengage your already-overworked brain. We got this...
Okay, it's chocolate. But they taste good, seem a bit fancy, whilst also having a bit an irony about them, thanks to all those ambassador ads and this terrifying recent photo (please don't let him become an ambassador):
Knocked down from €6.99, this box of 16 also an absolute BARGAIN at €4.49 even if the thought of picking up your Ferrero Rocher from the Argos conveyor belt seems slightly contradictory.
Gingerbread lip balm
Keeping it Crimbo, but getting more practical. Everyone likes the taste of gingerbread, everyone likes to have well-hydrated, luscious lips. Zero galories. What's not to love? It's can be a bit dodgy going the beauty/cosmetics route for people you're not too intimately acquainted with, but this is a safe bet from Boots.
Hand & Nail Collection Set
Still on a moisture tip and classing it up a smidge, this Nature's Ingredients quartet will help keep your keyboard mittens feeling and smelling great. One for the ladie... ah c'mon, it's 2016, we're all bloody moisturising at this point. Get it for Jeff in IT.
Far less aggressive a gesture than a switchblade, we find, this is guaranteed to keep any bequiffed types around the place looking sharp. One of those novelty gifts you'd never buy for yourself, but are actually kinda handy. Probably one for the hipsters rather than your boss with the combover/combforward/Trumpian swirl. A clean €5, too.
Make sure no one else can hold a candle to your Secret Santa purchasing powers (sorry) and give them this nifty scented gift from Eason's. In fact, seeing as they’re just €2.49 a pop, give them. They come in mandarin, jasmine and lily, French vanilla or, if you’re feeling particularly boring, just plain ol’ vanilla.
White Lady Christmas Decoration
Play it overtly Christmas without a pair of Santa boxer being involved, make it Irish and come over all Cubist in one go. Coming in at a fiver, Grand Grand’s White Lady of the North Side tree decoration looks rather fetchingwith it's arty take on the traditional and might just get that colleague who regularly wears a blue O’Neills jersey on Casual Fridays a bit misty-eyed. Best avoided for “bah, humbug” types and Corkonians.
Topshop Grinch socks
Speaking of the humbuggers, socks are cliched, and these might be a little seasonal, but despite a groan or two we can guarantee that the receiver will inevitably, gratefully, stick these on when stuck and the hot press is bare, whether it's December or July.
Smartphone cleaning pads
Oh those Germans, what will they think of next, eh? Okay, this isn’t going to look all that exciting when you hand over your paper-thin wrapped gift but, provided they don’t lose it within, I dunno, an afternoon, they could sure come in handy for those who loathe a smudgy screen. Handily, to prevent it vanishing off the face of the Earth and giving your mobile a little character in the process, on the flipside of the microfibers is a magnet that will stick the thing to the back of your device. We like the owl one, it's a hoot.
Not everyone in the office will be into comics, but the Marvel universe is pretty much universally adored at this point. And we all have keys. We particularly like the Groot and Captain America offerings, for €3.49.
National Lottery Scratchcard
Scratching the bottom of the barrel? Hey, it's the only thing on this list that could leave your colleague €25,000 the richer. And maybe they'll throw you a few bob for the season that's in it. Now that would indeed be 'Merry Money'.