It’s the festive office activity that polarises us – discovering the name you have pulled out of the hat belongs to either good old Claire in HR, or the guy in Marketing you’ve said hello to once in the kitchen. Love it or hate it, the Western Christmas tradition known as Secret Santa, where members of a group or community are randomly assigned a person to whom they anonymously give a gift has been an office tradition for the last 30 years.
It is believed that American philanthropist Larry Dean Stewart started the trend, who lived between 1948 and 2007 and made millions through a career in cable TV. To help those in need in the same way he had received help during his life, he anonymously handed out $100 bills over 26 years totalling $1.6 million. At an average amount of £5, the office version of Secret Santa is on a somewhat smaller scale but symbolises the same gift of giving during the season of goodwill. But why do we love to give?