The Office Secret Santa is something I dread, and I’m sure many other people do too. If you draw someone you don’t know very well, or someone senior, then you have no idea what to buy them that isn’t just going to get thrown in the trash two months later.
With my recent success in introducing board games at my new office, I think all of my colleagues would actually appreciate a board game gift (except for the fact they’ve all gone out and bought all the games that they’ve enjoyed!).
I’d like to recommend some games that I think almost anyone would enjoy. You could even open the shrink wrap at the office Christmas party and then it’s a gift that everyone can enjoy together.
Secret Santa - Under £10
Love Letter is literally a pocket-sized game and although we don’t own it, we’ve played on many occasions. I’ve actually seen this as a Secret Santa gift before in a household full of non-gamers as well as seeing people play it on a weeding weekend and knowing someone who always keeps Love Letter in their shirt pocket. Love Letter is a game with just a small number of cards, but it makes a group think about bluffing and deduction whilst being extremely light. It might not blow your Secret Santa away if you’re looking to create a new gamer, but there’s nothing not to like about a quick game of Love Letter.
Hey That’s My Fish is a game about moving penguins around an ice flow to eat different quantities of fish. The game is small, but once you lay out the tiles it is a respectable sized game for a small price point. As you move your penguins around the board on each turn, the game can get pretty cutthroat as you try and isolate other people’s penguins on small islands. If you can get the small box then you have a really portable game and if you can only get hold of the larger box edition, then you look like a really generous Santa!
Secret Santa - Under £15
Dobble is definitely a game aimed at children, but whenever I introduce this game at work it never fails to cause a lot of raucous fun. Everyone can play, because the game is basically a very cleverly designed version of snap. That said, it’s great fun to watch people struggle to identify matches due to the different sizes of images on the cards. Dobble is a pretty inexpensive game and that’s good because it might get a bit damaged during very vicious games!
Codenames is has pretty much hit the mainstream in the last two years. Both the original Codenames and Codenames: pictures have been a bit hit with my work colleagues because it’s a team based game and almost any number of people can play. It’s a really simple idea where the leader of each team is giving one word clues that link a number of words on a grid and the rest of their team have to identify the right words whilst avoiding the other team’s words, the red herrings and the assassin. This would work for colleagues to play amongst themselves or take home to their families over the festive season.
Kingdomino might be a gift for the colleague who has shown a little bit more of an interest in your board games. It’s not a complex game at all, but it doesn’t create the same party atmosphere as some of the games on this list. In Kingdomino, you lay domino-like tiles to create a kingdom of different types of terrain. Kingdomino has a theme that is generic enough to appeal to all tastes and might spark an interest in board games with your colleagues.
Secret Santa - Under £20
Kodama is the perfect game for your colleague who likes cute stuff and pretty artwork. In Kodama you are building up a tree using cards. On the cards are different flowers, butterflies, etc. that you need to make chains of to score points. The game is actually a good game for gamers too, but is easy enough to grasp for any group of adults and would work as a gift for colleagues with slightly older families.
Best Treehouse Ever is another recommendation for a colleague who likes cute things. In this card drafting game you are building a treehouse. You can add all sorts of rooms to your treehouse, like a jacuzzi or a board game room, and by grouping different themes together and keeping your tree balanced, you will score points. Again, this game is quick, accessible and very portable and packs in a much more fun and whimsical theme than your colleagues might be used to in a card game.
Happy Christmas from The Game Shelf and from Zatu Games!