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Author Topic: Cheap Secret Santa  (Read 18411 times)

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Cheap Secret Santa
« on: December 19, 2012, 10:49:31 AM »
I have been lurking here for a long time, so I know you will pull no punches.  Every year our Admin team chooses names for a Secret Santa, there are 9 of  us.  We know each other pretty well and each year almost everyone gets something that they like.  We have a $25 limit, some go over, but one person's gifts always look like they cost about $5.00.  Where most give nice  costume jewelry, scarves, etc, this person always gives tacky ornaments that light up, or items that probably come from the Discount Housewares store that have been marked down to $5 from $25.  So, I have 2 questions. If the spend amount is $25 and you find something marked down from that, shouldn't you still spend the whole $25?  The second question is what should we do about it?  One of the team members engaged the cheapskate in a conversation about how thoughtful some of the gifts are and that they must have put a lot of thought into getting the perfect gift for that person, hoping to encourage her to buy something decent for a change, unfortunately, it didn't work.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2012, 10:54:06 AM »
This is exactly one of the reasons why I loathe Secret Santa at work--because you almost invariably have one person that picks up the cheapest, tackiest, ugliest item off a clearance rack and thinks someone should be thrilled to receive it.  (On one famous instance, we had someone give a gift card that had already been used.  Although I felt sorry for the recipient, I was glad in some respects as it killed the practice in that office.)

It should be made clear from the beginning that participation in the exchange is not mandatory--but that those who do participate are expected to gift something that is an equitable amount, in new condition, and that further instances will cause the practice to be shut down.

Or you could simply form small groups, do the exchange amongst yourselves and leave that person out (if you know for sure who it is).


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2012, 10:54:31 AM »
The second question is what should we do about it? 

Maybe reduce the amount everyone is supposed to spend.  The "cheapskate" might not be able to afford (or might not want to afford) that much for a co-worker.  I have family members who are in the $15 range, to me co-worker gifts should be in the $10 and under range, $15 at most.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2012, 11:03:03 AM »
I think this is the reason that a lot of offices are getting away from the Secret Santa thing.  It always causes disappointment and hard feelings.

Probably, the best thing to do would be to send a company-wide announcement that participation in the Secret Santa is not mandatory, but anyone wishing to participate should spend a minimum of XX dollars not exceeding XX dollars.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2012, 11:10:38 AM »
Honestly, I kind of feel like the $25 stipulation is satisfied if the discounted item is actually honest-to-goodness worth $25. If it's junk and never should have been $25 in the first place, yeah, that's cheaping out. But if the item is really worth $25, then if you add other items onto it, that person is getting gifts worth way more than what other people in the exchange will get.

Obviously this is pretty gray! What's "really worth $25" isn't really set in stone. One can only hope people will use their common sense and consideration. It sounds like either this person isn't doing that and is picking items that never should have been $25 at all, or else that their tastes are way different from those of the rest of the office, which can lead to disappointment.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2012, 11:22:39 AM »
The "cheapskate" might not be able to afford (or might not want to afford) that much for a co-worker.

That was my thinking as well.  You never know someone's financial situation, and it could be that this person is doing the best they can.  They could have a lot of other people in their lives to buy for, they could have debts you don't know about, whatever.

$25 for coworkers seems really high to me.  Even if I can afford that, I'd almost be a bit resentful that I'm having to spend so much on someone at work when I could be spending that much more on my family instead.

Yes, I realize that it may not be mandatory to participate.  But there could be a reason why he doesn't want to opt out.  Doesn't want to be embarrassed that he's not able to afford it, so he tries to hide it and be a part anyway, doesn't want to be left out when everyone else is doing it, needs that one little "spark" in his life right now to offset something stressful in his real life, whatever.

I don't think you (generic) should be judging him like it sounds like he's being judged.

And, if he's just doing it because he's a jerk, so be it.  But that's not really something for you to determine.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2012, 11:26:01 AM »
I suggest making sure that this individual wants to participate in the first place. It may be a case of something they're really not interested in and may not have the extra funds to do so making them just feel resentful of the entire thing.

The first year I participated in Boyfriends families secret santa Boyfriend hadn't actually ASKED ME first before telling his mother I was participating. He just assumed that because he mentioned that's what his family does that I would be joining. I was unemployed with barely enough money to buy gifts for him and my parents and then to have another commitment placed on top of that? The gift's where set at $50, $50 I didn't have and would have rather spent getting my mother and father something if I was going to spend it in the first place.

Boyfriend pitched in half to help me pay for it because he felt awful for committing me to this when he found out how horrified I was that he'd done so. But it was still very stressful for me to shop for someone in his family I barely knew and struggling with money I didn't really have but had been committed to spending by someone else.

I am not saying that your co-worker is in a similar situation but that it's something to consider and could lead to them feeling resentful of the entire thing. 

Oh and in case any one is wondering, Boyfriend and I had a talk about the difference in stating something and actually asking if someone is participating. He now understands that when he just mentioned his family tradition to me he wasn't actually asking me to participate. Now he makes sure to clearly ASK things instead of stating them.

On the topic of getting things that amount to a total of $X event after discount:

This year for the family secret santa (that I agreed to participate in this time!) the price has been reduced to $30 to suit everyone's budget easier (if only it was last year.. ::) ). I drew Boyfriends sister and was told that she likes earrings of various sorts and so I went to a department store to begin my search. I found two different earrings both in a style I was told she liked: One is silver hoops with crystals embedded in the hoop, another are small dangly ones with round crystals and smaller silver ones encircling the larger round one. Both of which where on sale, if not discounted they would have come closer to the $40 range but together they came to just under $30.

It is my personal choice to purchase gifts that now amount to the $30 stated. If I am able to purchase something that is normally more expensive for an amount that is within this price range it just means that I am getting a great deal on it. But if I am still $10 short on the $30 cap I am going to see what other great deal I can find in that range and I managed to do so! Maybe I could have gotten a nice box of Christmas chocolates for the other $10, or a pair of winter slippers or something else not-jewelry related if I hadn't found the deals I had to purchase two sets. I personally view it to mean that your gift or gifts cost $30 to purchase, not that they value at $30 so I end up getting some great deals on a few things and pack them together.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2012, 11:29:55 AM »
Do the participants make wish lists? If the problem is just that she is bad at choosing gifts, it might help to have a list of specific items the recipient would like. If the problem is that she wants to spend as little as possible, setting a price range (such as $15-$25) instead of just an upper limit might help.

Of course, that advice is assuming the Secret Santa exchange is optional in the first place, which the OP didn't specify. If it isn't optional, it needs to be. It should also be opt-in rather than opt-out, meaning that the default is non-participation and anyone who wants to participate has to sign up. If this isn't how the system currently works, it may be that she feels pressure to participate even though she can't afford it.
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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2012, 11:44:56 AM »
This might not be popular, but I find it rude that co-workers are actually discussing this persons gifting habits and/or trying to clue this co-worker in to give a better gift.  It's just not the spirit of gift giving to me.  We all have to learn how to accept bad gifts graciously and look at it in the spirit it is being given.  Not speculate and/or judge the person who gave it.

I also find the $25 high for a work event.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2012, 11:46:55 AM »
I agree with mj.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2012, 11:47:49 AM »
Secret Santa is totally optional.  The person who cheaps out doesn't stint on herself.  She wears jewelry that she purchases at high end craft shows, has her nails done every week, goes on nice vacations, not that she shouldn't.  She once told me that she picks up things for gifts and keeps a stock to give away.  When I was the recipient, I was told that it was chosen especially for me which I believed up until another friend mentioned what she was given as a hostess gift, the same item.  I got the nicest of the awful gifts to date, a pressed glass apple shaped votive candle holder with a gold plated stem.  I almost want to go get this year's recipient a replacement gift, it was embarrassingly tacky.

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2012, 12:05:14 PM »
Seems every office has one.  Even dollar stores has nice stuff, but our person gives truly old dirty used stuff.  Doesn't matter that we list 3 things, she'll give what she wants to give.  After a few years, the Secret Santa was abandoned due to lack of participants in fear she will draw your name.

I really have no suggestions except that since you can't control other people, you can decline to draw a name this year.  You can still have fun by still giving little gifts to the staff.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2012, 12:45:48 PM »
I agree with rose red.  With someone like that in the group I would just decline to participate. 

The only other option that I can think of is to start laying the groundwork for the office to donate their Christmas $ to charity next year.  You could still have a lovely party, but without the gift exchange.


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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #13 on: December 19, 2012, 01:23:23 PM »
We had our Secret Santa on Monday.  I brought in a bag of Starbucks Christmas Roast whole bean coffee, worth $15 - our spending cap.  The gift I unwrapped was an okay bottle of Australian wine.  Then, in the swap part, I ended up with a hideous faux brass pen holder.  It's got a price tag of $16.99 on it, but it screams Dollar Store 1/2 price bin.  I'm furious.  I've put it aside and will rewrap it (with a Dunkins gift card) next year, so someone else can dispose of it.
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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2012, 01:44:27 PM »
Agree totally with what mj said.

The way I understand it, if the spend ďlimitĒ is $25, thatís the most one should spend.  It doesnít mean to go out and try to find something for $25.  Iíve seen nice gifts for $10 - $15 and I donít think someone should buy something else just to reach the $25 ceiling.