Want fewer token gifts? Try the ‘not so secret’ Santa

As Christmas approaches, Mark Topley introduces a different way to help charities.

We’re finally in December, and Christmas is definitely fast approaching.

I’m expecting that in your workplace, the team Christmas dinner is booked and you’re busy deciding whether it will be duck, turkey, beef or the veggie option.

I’m also betting that you’ve probably discussed your secret Santa for this year, and you may have already drawn your unsuspecting beneficiary’s name out of the pot.


Is it just me, or is secret Santa a big stress and an annual disappointment?

With a couple of notable exceptions over the years (my Star Wars coffee mug last year for example), most of the gifts I’ve got have been quickly forgotten.

I get that it’s the season of giving and goodwill, but I wonder whether it’s time to flip it, and do the ’not so secret Santa’ instead?

What do I mean?

Companies have been doing the electronic Christmas cards idea for some time.

It’s more environmentally friendly and the money goes to charity.

The charities I ran all benefited from these kinds of schemes.

The ‘not so secret Santa’ takes this one step further.

Rather than spending money on a gift, how about pooling your resources as a team, and help someone out who would benefit far more from your money than you will from yet another unnecessary Christmas gift?

You donate what you would have spent on secret Santa to the practice or team ‘pot’.

Engage with your patients

As a team, you choose a charity to benefit.

As it’s Christmas, the homeless or children usually come to mind – Shelter, Salvation Army and others all do a huge amount of outreach through the year, which peaks at Christmas.

The charities will know how many people your money will help, so you could buy Christmas dinner and a safe and warm place to sleep for a certain number of people?

You can use it as an opportunity to engage your patients – tell them what you’re doing and invite them to add to the pot.

Talk about it on social media and in your newsletter.

You could even match the fund or donate as a business.

This year, I think we could so some amazing things for local people in need – and have one less thing to gather dust in the New Year.

Read more from Mark Topley:

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar