DEAR HARRIETTE: I am taking part in my work's secret Santa gift exchange. I thought the drawings would be slightly rigged so I would at least know who I was buying a gift for, but I have never spoken to my gift recipient, "Jeff." What could I possibly get him? We were advised against getting generic gifts and really getting to know the person. -- Too Much Effort, Syracuse, New York
DEAR TOO MUCH EFFORT: It sounds like your company's management team wants the staff to get to know one another. This is a creative, if time-consuming, way. You need to become a sleuth of sorts. Figure out who Jeff is. Walk by his desk and do a cursory overview of what he has in his personal area to get ideas for his interests. Look him up in the company directory to learn about his job and any details that might be available. Research him on social media as you continue your search. You don't want to give away that you are the secret Santa, so you have to be careful how much you talk to Jeff. If you want to engage him at all, you may want to speak to several people in his area so that it will remain vague as to exactly who you are and who you are investigating.
Then, get something simple that speaks to who this man is. Like, if you see a particular candy or gum on his desk get him more of that. If you notice a book, get him a book in that genre. Kids' photos? A fun picture frame that's kid-friendly.