Author Topic: Etiquette around secret santa gifts  (Read 2316 times)

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Anastriel

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Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« on: December 24, 2011, 02:01:31 AM »
I belong to a community that is focused around an organisation devoted to a hobby. We do meet in person to participate in this hobby, but as there are chapters of the organisation in different parts of the country, we do a lot of discussions on an online forum.

At Christmas we can opt into a secret santa. The gifts that people give are mostly related to the hobby. Usually people don't spend a lot of money on the gift, but often they spend a lot of time hand making their gift. Hand making a gift is not required however. The rules also don't state that the gift has to be related to the hobby.

This year we had the option of posting a wishlist on the forums, which many people did. They usually listed a few things relating to the hobby that they would like. One or two people mentioned chocolate, but the majority of the posters only asked for hobby related items.

Last year I declined to participate, as I wasn't sure I could give a quality gift, as I am not talented at making things relating to the hobby. This year however I had a few ideas, including purchasing a handmade item from a friend in the community that sells hobby related items. I was pleased with the name I received as I knew he wanted a widget, and so I purchased a widget from my friend for him. However he then purchased a widget from her for himself. Luckily I was able to find something else from his wishlist, though it did mean last minute shopping. I think he'll actually prefer what I got him than the widget he was originally going to get. For the record, it wouldn't be terrible to have more than one widget, but he probably wouldn't need two identical widgets, and I just didn't feel right giving it to him once I knew he had one.

I received my secret santa gift today. It was soap. Soap does not relate to hobby at all. Another friend also received soap and she is also disappointed. She sent a very lovely handmade gift she spent a lot of time making. Neither of us posted a wishlist however, as we would have been happy with anything relating to hobby at all.   

People are now starting to post pictures of their gifts on the online forum. Some of the gifts are amazing. All of them so far relate to the hobby.

I have several questions:

Is it rude to post a wishlist including several options and then buy one of those things yourself before the gift exchange?
Is it rude to gift a generic item such as soap rather than a specialised item relating to hobby? Does the fact we didn't post a wishlist impact on this?
Were we rude not to post a wishlist?
Should people decline to participate if they can't give a gift relating to hobby?
Is is rude to post a picture of the soap? I don't really know what I could say other than "Thanks for the soap", which next to all the gushing thanks posted so far might be a bit PA.






Cosmasia

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2011, 02:35:46 AM »
-No it's not rude to buy something for yourself with your own money even if it's also an item on your own wishlist. The kind thing to do, however, is to then remove the item from the wishlist.

-No it's not rude to gift soap/non-hobby related things when the rules specifically don't say that you can only gift hobby related things. Yes your lack of wishlish probably had something to do with it, the giver didn't have any idea what you'd like.

-You were not at all rude to not post a wishlist, but you can't expect people to know that you only want hobby-related things if you don't.

-No people shouldn't have to decline to participate when they are following the rules. The rules allow you to give non-hobby related thing. I'm not really sure why this bothers you so much when you had no guidelines (a list) for the giver to get ideas from and it's allowed.

-It's not rude to post a picture of the soap but you need to be gracious (I think is the English word I'm supposed to use anyway :P) when writing whatever you want.
It was obviously a gift that you didn't want but it was within the rules and you never gave the secret giver any guidelines about what you wanted. The person isn't a mind reader so if you only want hobby stuff then you need to actually write it like everyone else did.  :)
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Anastriel

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2011, 03:01:11 AM »
Thanks for your reply. To clarify, the rules don't prohibit no hobby related gifts, but it does quite clear state that the focus of the gift exchange is hobby related. I feel that non hobby related gifts are outside the spirit of the gift exchange, if not the actual rules, hence why it bothers me.

The rules state:

Quote
Let's set the value of the gift between $5 - $20 with a view on making/sourcing things that might be useful in a [Hobby]. For example, [list of three examples of gifts relating to hobby that can be made or purchased with minimal cost and time] Of course chocolate never goes amiss.

But if you're truly stumped, please check out the Secret Santa Wishlist thread

I don't want to post a thank you that comes across as ungracious, but I'm not really sure on how to word it. My friend received hers a couple of days ago, and she still hasn't posted her thank you yet either for the same reason.

[/list]

The Wild One, Forever

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2011, 03:04:44 AM »
I agree that it wasn't rude for your SS to give you soap, but it doesn't sound like they put much thought into it.  Since this group centers around a hobby, it seems that picking out a cool gift would be an easy thing to do, wishlist or no wishlist.  I'd be disappointed, too, if I were you.  I love pretty soaps, but it's such a generic gift. 

An online interest/support group I used to belong to did a SS one year, and everybody gave and received amazing gifts!  My SS is from San Antonio, Texas, and gave me some awesome Texas-related things, among them a San Antonio tree ornament I love and a Texas Longhorns purse!  (I'm not a fan, really, but the purse is cool and I get compliments on it all the time.  Nobody else around here has one like it.)  I gave my person a box of candy from a local Mississippi chocolatier, (she was in the Pacific NW), a CD which had helped me through a rough time pertaining to the group's raison d'etre, and a gorgeous hardcover blank book/journal. 
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ClaireC79

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2011, 03:21:41 AM »
In some ways its harder to do an online secret santa without more of a wishlist as you run the risk of getting them something they already have, in a hobby related thing that is more likely

Anastriel

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2011, 03:38:41 AM »
This is the first year that we included a wishlist at all - I think it was because last year there was one person that was quite outspoken in her dislike of the generic non hobby gift she received. I didn't really want to post a wishlist because there was nothing specifically that I wanted, and I didn't want my giver to feel they had to get something from the list. But now I thought maybe it was a bit rude not to post at least something.

The hobby is similar to cosplay or the SCA, so getting people things they already have isn't so much of an issue, as people make costume items that are usually unique (My friend sewed a cloak as her gift), or gift items that can be used in the making of costumes and such (facepaint, leather, feathers etc). Other people make something that relates such as a miniature scrapbook full of photos of the person in costume. The focus is definitely on being creative rather than spending a lot of money, and some of the gifts really are amazing.

I don't want to be rude to my giver, I suspect that they are possibly new to the hobby and so wasn't sure what to give. My friend is thinking that the polite thing to do is not to post anything, but I think I have to post some kind of thank you, because else they might be wondering if I even received it.

shhh its me

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2011, 04:05:18 AM »
   I think by adding chocolate to the suggested list it implied ......or very generic fallback gift that many many people like.   Those soap/body wash baskets are just as popular generic gift as chocolates, that's why the stores are full of them.  While 70% of people*will be able to eat or enjoy chocolate about 90% of woman* will use the general lightly sented(vanilla , citrus , mint, fruit) soaps.   * by people and woman I mean people I know not all people*

Without knowing the hobby I can't put myself in the givers place.  What I'm think though is almost every hobby has 100s of cool things little things that would make great gifts. BUT, with knowing only "person enjoys hobby" I would have no idea if they had items already , if items would be useful , too novice too advanced , to their tastes etc..  If I planned to make an item , it might turn out badly or I might run out of time before I finish.  So I can see why a person would go to "generic" gift.



Is it rude to post a wishlist including several options and then buy one of those things yourself before the gift exchange?
No , don't forget he might have anted 2 or the one he bought might have been a gift
Is it rude to gift a generic item such as soap rather than a specialised item relating to hobby?
No , it was within the rules
 Does the fact we didn't post a wishlist impact on this?
Yes , very much so.
Were we rude not to post a wishlist?
No , you were not rude but you may have excepted too much
Should people decline to participate if they can't give a gift relating to hobby?
No because it's not in the rules and they may have given a craft related list if there was a wish list.  I do think though if there is truly no way you would every gift a craft realted gift , then it's a bit clueless to participate.
Is is rude to post a picture of the soap? I don't really know what I could say other than "Thanks for the soap", which next to all the gushing thanks posted so far might be a bit PA.No it's not rude to post a pic but you have to find something a little more graciuos to say.





shhh its me

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2011, 04:41:07 AM »
  I have a questions is the exchange international? or local.? How large is the community? Does everyone know the person they have been given?   Is making  costumes an integral part of the hobby or just very common?

 Also I can see for Renaissance reinactors soap that could have been made in period with methods used in period as actually relating to the hobby.


Without a description of the custumes you're(as an individual) making/wearing I can't imagine picking a gift for an international exchange without a wish list, unless it's a very  very narrowly defined cosplay. *if the exchnae is between the 20-100 people in the local group who interat regularly this doesn't apply. if the local group is 200-1000 or more then it still applies*  So does the information given to Santa's include , a good description of what you're currently doing and crafting skills/levels.  I applauded your creativity but I really can't imagine being able to just pick a gift , except the scrap book.  Even the cloak , I'd be thinking.............. does this person have enough cloaks , is it the right color ,  what if they have spent the last 6 months embroidering the perfect cloak? eck!!!! soap for everyone.

TomatoBunny

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2011, 07:47:29 AM »
Is it handmade soap or store-bought? Is it one of those very common body wash 'basket' things?  For some reason, I'm just thinking it's a sad, single bar of soap...

I'm just reminded of a crafting forum I lurk at, where there are few people who enjoy making soap from scratch. It, among some other bath items, seem to be their default gift items. They usually get good feedback on their picture posts, but it's obviously not a thing for everyone.

I think store bought soap for a hobby related gift swap is thoughtless. If you really need a 'go-to' gift, surely there's a bunch of generic hobby supplies that one can always use more of. Or a small kit of something to try something new within the hobby. It seems there were even 3 ideas specifically mentioned in the rules. The chocolate comment sounded to me like a small extra/treat that could also be sent, in addition to the main.

Bijou

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2011, 10:20:14 AM »
This is the first year that we included a wishlist at all - I think it was because last year there was one person that was quite outspoken in her dislike of the generic non hobby gift she received. I didn't really want to post a wishlist because there was nothing specifically that I wanted, and I didn't want my giver to feel they had to get something from the list. But now I thought maybe it was a bit rude not to post at least something.

The hobby is similar to cosplay or the SCA, so getting people things they already have isn't so much of an issue, as people make costume items that are usually unique (My friend sewed a cloak as her gift), or gift items that can be used in the making of costumes and such (facepaint, leather, feathers etc). Other people make something that relates such as a miniature scrapbook full of photos of the person in costume. The focus is definitely on being creative rather than spending a lot of money, and some of the gifts really are amazing.

I don't want to be rude to my giver, I suspect that they are possibly new to the hobby and so wasn't sure what to give. My friend is thinking that the polite thing to do is not to post anything, but I think I have to post some kind of thank you, because else they might be wondering if I even received it.
I don't think the giver was rude in any way. Your rule doesn't say that non hobby things are not allowed.  In your OP you clearly state (direct quote, but underline is mine) "At Christmas we can opt into a secret santa. The gifts that people give are mostlyrelated to the hobby. Usually people don't spend a lot of money on the gift, but often they spend a lot of time hand making their gift. Hand making a gift is not required however."
Your wishlist could  have simply been "Anything related to X hobby."
I think I would post a gracious thank you as soon as possible before it became obvious that I was not appreciative of the gift and found myself in a bad light.
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Isisnin

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2011, 10:31:53 AM »
If pretty much everyone else is posting pics of their gifts, you not posting would be glaring by omission.  But if many are not posting pics, your missing pic would not be noticed.

I'd wait a bit more to see how many people post pics.  You have the excuse of "Christmas Eve and Christmas were so busy, I couldn't take a pic and post!" to explain your delay (if need be).

In the meantime, you can prepare your thanks, just in case.  "Thank you for the lovely scented soap.  Lavender/rose/lily-of-the-valley is one of my favorite scents"  or "color matches my decor".

ShadesOfGrey

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2011, 08:53:28 PM »
I didn't really want to post a wishlist because there was nothing specifically that I wanted, and I didn't want my giver to feel they had to get something from the list. But now I thought maybe it was a bit rude not to post at least something.


I don't want to be rude to my giver, I suspect that they are possibly new to the hobby and so wasn't sure what to give. My friend is thinking that the polite thing to do is not to post anything, but I think I have to post some kind of thank you, because else they might be wondering if I even received it.

Not sure how to post this, but of you really believed what you say in the first part of this post, then you don't really have a reason to be ungrateful about the soap. The problem is that there *was* something specific you wanted, and you did want your giver to give a certain type of gift.i think you just didn't realize it at the time. I think of you can't be grateful for whatever gift you get then you should continue to decline to play.

FTR I think there's too big of a difference between a $5 and a $20 gift to really make this exchange fair. I also think that people are probably going over the $20 limit when you consider time invested (and it's a big thing on here that crafters should be compensated for their time and skill).

I think the last part of your post is right on and you should post a gracious thanks ASAP, if for no other reason than to let the giver know you received it.
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KenveeB

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2011, 09:27:31 AM »
I don't think there's anything wrong with given a generic gift to someone who hasn't indicated what they wanted.  No wishlist, you run the risk of generic gifts.

I do, however, think it's rude for someone to list something on a gift list and then buy it themselves before the exchange.  There may have been circumstances that made this guy not rude (he wanted two, he received it from someone else, etc), but if he listed it and then later just bought it for himself, then I think it's rude.  If you want to buy it before the exchange, then don't list it!  My dad does this to us all the time, and it drives us crazy.  You're letting someone waste their time, money, and energy buying a gift thinking you'll want and like, and then you change the rules on them afterwards.

Tierrainney

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Re: Etiquette around secret santa gifts
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2011, 10:14:26 AM »
I've participated in hobby secret Santa exchanges before, but I haven't in a long time. These two things you mentioned are the reasons why.

Others will post lists and pictures of the wonderful things they got relating to the hobby. I will get a coffee mug with a handful of hershey kissess inside. This is a nice gift and probably stuck to the recommended spending limit, but not the exciting handmade widget that other person got.

I also don't want to participate, as I'm sure my person is probably disappointed in what I send them. I am very good with the history/informational part of my hobby, but my crafting skills are mediocre at best. So the gift I sent is either generic gift like the one I recieved, or hobby gift that looks like it was made by a 5 year old child.

Wish lists are just that, wishes, but unless the objects on them are impossible to find or over the price limit, I do think they should be followed as much as possible.
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