Author Topic: Cheap Secret Santa  (Read 12098 times)

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bah12

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2012, 03:01:50 PM »
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.

The problem I have with all this is that it doesn't matter if she doesn't cheap out herself.  Personally, I would feel very awkward if I were the only person in an office that doesn't participate in Secret Santa...but at the same time, I think that $25 is a little much to gift to coworkers I don't have a personal relationship with.  Even though I could easily afford it.  Yes,  I think that if she agrees to "play" she should follow the rules, but is not possible that she actually believes she is following the game rules.  For instance, you seem to view this as a $25 requirement vs. a $25 limit.  She might actually think these "tacky" gifts are nice and appropriate for an office gift exchange...or maybe she doesn't care. 

To answer your specific questions, I think that if someone gets a regularly priced $25 gift for less than $25, then good for them.  I don't think they have to spend exactly $25.

What to do about this particular gift giver?  Well, you could evaluate the Secret Santa.  What is the purpose and is it being met?  I would think that the goal is to do something fun at work and to have a good time trying to guess who your "santa" is.  I would think that a secondary goal is to bring some closeness and bonding to the group.  But, if what it's doing is causing a burden for people to go spend $25 on people they don't have a personal relationship with and then feeling like the gifts aren't quite right or one person is giving gifts that are so bad that other coworkers want to give replacement gifts, then the goal isn't being met and the game needs to be reevaluated.

Also, if the office is going to do this, I'd suggest a price range.  Such as $15-$20 for example.  That communicates that a $1 store item may not be appropriate and makes it clear what the parameters are.  A blanket $25 rule may be taken as a range from $0-$25 (which is a big gap) by some, while others think of it as a strict $25 requirement. 

But, really, I don't think you should do anything about this.  This is a work gift exchange, so put it in perspective.  Yes, it sucks to get crappy gifts but, you don't really know your coworkers situation (despite what her jewelry and nails may indicate) and you don't know her true motivation for buying the "cheap" gifts.  I think the kindest thing to do is accept what you get graciously.  If you don't like the gift, then get rid of it.

DottyG

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #16 on: December 19, 2012, 03:07:40 PM »
bah12 said it perfectly.  I agree with her entire post.


CaptainObvious

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #17 on: December 19, 2012, 03:16:57 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.

If it is that bad, why would you re-gift it to your co-workers?
« Last Edit: December 19, 2012, 03:21:05 PM by CaptainObvious »

PurpleyBlue

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2012, 03:21:20 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.

If it is that bad, why would you gift it to your co-workers?

And are you planning to regift it right in front of the person who bought it?  That seems mean.

SoCalVal

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2012, 03:27:20 PM »
I would just do away with the Secret Santa exchange and give gifts to each other directly as something optional.  I also agree that $25 is rather high for work (ours is $10, and it's not Secret Santa but for the exchange where you steal gifts from each other)



bah12

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2012, 03:30:00 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.

If it is that bad, why would you gift it to your co-workers?

And are you planning to regift it right in front of the person who bought it?  That seems mean.

I think it depends on the "game" and the office culture.  At a former job, we played the white elephant game and there were at least two gifts that were given every year...because they were intentionally that bad.  And it was fun for everyone to see who was going to get stuck with it.  On one hand, you have a bad gift, but on the other, you don't have to purchase something for the following year.  We all had fun with it.  I mean, by nature this type of exchange has people bargaining to get their gift "stolen" right in front of the person that gave to them.  And I think that someone that can't handle the nature of this probably shouldn't play in the first place.  Which is why I hate them for offices.  A family or group of friends may be very in tuned to what others can and can't handle as far as these games, but an office may be too diverse in personality and expectations to do this (even though they are popular for some reason).

That being said, if someone is "furious" over a gift in this type of exchange, then why would it be ok to "regift" it?

I'm not a big fan of workplace gift exchanges, but to put it in perspective, this is how I take it:  I view the gift and the cost of the gift as the price I pay to have a little fun and get some free time off work.  Anything that I get in exchange is just a bonus (if I like it) and I lose nothing to get something I don't. 

Sophia

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2012, 03:56:52 PM »
If I worked in this office, and I got the cheapskate then I would buy a dollar-store gift and a nice generic gift.  Cheapskate would get the dollar store gift.  The person that got cheapskate's gift, would be secretly gifted the nice generic gift later in the day. 

I think that the sale price is what matters if you were seeking out sale price stuff to gift. 
If you were seeking out X, because you thought recipient would really like it, and it happened to be on sale, then the regular price is what matters.

I think the danger behind always considering the retail price on sale stuff is that gifters will seek out the cheapest price for the highest apparent "retail price" without concern for whether or not the giftee might like it, or even whether or not it is junk.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2012, 04:04:26 PM »
Xane, I don't think there is anything that you can do other than start setting a range.  In most cases, when a dollar amount is set, it is referred to as a limit.  Though most of us think of it as a "target".  So you guys can set a range of say $20 to $25. 

The other thing to do is to use one of the online drawing tools like Drawnames.com.  It will track participation year to year and you can set it that the person who's name she drew last year can't be drawn by her this year.  And I think it will follow subsequent years.  Then no one get's the "cheap" gift year after year. 

She could just view participation as a nuisance and she puts as much thought in to this gift as she does the last minute hostess gift she grabs on the way to dinner. 

Or she could think of her gifts as quirky or kitschy fun.  Someone mentioned a bag of Starbucks as a gift.  I really do not like Starbucks coffee so I'd prefer a tacky light up ornament that I could get a good laugh about over a bag of coffee I'd be passing off to someone else.  Or even costume earings that are bulky and heavier than anything I'd ever wear.  We are seldom able to buy as well for others as we are for ouselves.

Lynn2000

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2012, 05:25:28 PM »
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.

As others have mentioned, there may be some confusion as to whether everyone should spend roughly $25, or if the maximum is $25. And if it's the maximum, what is the minimum? These things should be clearly spelled out. Maybe 8 of the 9 people seem to just "understand" what's expected, but why not try just stating them next year, and see if it helps?

Also, you said most of the people know each other well and thus try to get gifts to each other's taste. Is there something different about this person--hasn't been there as long, not as much of a socializer, has a different sense of humor/taste than others, etc.? If she is a quirkier person in general compared to the others, for example, she might be prone to buying quirkier gifts that aren't to the others' taste.

If the maximum or target is $25, I think it's fine to not actually spend $25, if you find something that is genuinely worth $25. As someone else said, it can be hard to determine whether something is actually "worth" $25, though. But let's say someone won a $25 gift card and decided to give it as the Secret Santa gift. That cost them $0. Should they then have to spend $25 on additional items, where it will be obvious they are giving things "worth" more than the maximum? Personally I think they could just give the $25 gift card (perhaps spending <$2 on a cute box or accessory) and feel good about themselves.

I like bah12's thoughts about the purpose of the gift exchange, and how it should be reevaluated if it's no longer meeting that purpose. That seems like the professional thing to do. Clearer rules, perhaps a lower minimum, perhaps wish lists/suggestions, perhaps a store or theme each year that offers many opportunities for appropriate gifts. If you feel "cheapskate" needs more guidance on what to give people, then offer it to everyone as part of the rules. That's more polite than singling her out and more effective than trying to hint.

I guess 8 of the 9 people could plan a private get-together at someone's house and exchange gifts there if they want, leaving the "cheapskate" out entirely. It seems a little shady to me, but as long as no one ever, ever mentions it to the ninth, I guess it's not rude.
~Lynn2000

AnnaJ

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #24 on: December 19, 2012, 07:12:55 PM »
If it's an optional event and the cheap one chooses to participate, that screams greedy to me.  If someone don't plan to spend close to the maximum and past history shows that most people do so, then the person who doesn't want to spend that much shouldn't join in - it just looks as though they want to make a profit on the exchange.

That said, I think it's perfectly reasonable to decline joining a gift exchange for any reason, or no reason.

CluelessBride

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #25 on: December 19, 2012, 08:18:55 PM »
In general when there is a gift price limit I assume the underlying intent is to limit the approximate  value of the gift as opposed to the cost of the gift. Because I've always assumed that the idea was to provide a benchmark so that no one feels uncomfortable about the exchange.

As an extreme example let's say there was a gift exchange with a limit of $25. And lets pretend I had an inside source at Apple and could purchase iPads for $25. I think it would be completely inappropriate to gift a $25 iPad, because it would violate the intent of the $25 limit and likely make others in the exchange feel uncomfortable.

I do think limits are a little fudge-able (so gifting MSRP $30-$40 worth of stuff that was purchased for $25 seems okay), because there is some discrepancy and variability in pricing anyway. But I also wouldn't begrudge someone giving MSRP $25 worth of stuff that they got for less than that. Besides, no one but the gifter should know what was paid anyway, and speculation just seems *off*.

Surianne

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #26 on: December 19, 2012, 08:24:03 PM »
I agree with Lynn, and I was very confused upon reading the OP.  You mention a $25 limit, which I thought meant maximum $25 (quite a lot for an office gift exchange!).  Then you mention the people who go over, which seems to be okay -- so I thought you meant $25 is the minimum.  Is that the case?  If the coworker knows it's a $25 minimum, she should choose not to participate.  If it's a $25 maximum, with no minimum, then it sounds like she's fine -- and to me, the person giving over the $25 maximum would be wrong.

Very confusing all around, I think.

rose red

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #27 on: December 19, 2012, 08:28:16 PM »
I think most people see it as "around $25" give or take a few dollars.  Like, a $23 or $28 dollar gift is ok, but a $3 or $75 gift wouldn't be right.

blarg314

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #28 on: December 19, 2012, 08:47:58 PM »

For a $25 limit, I'd say anything from about $20 up is reasonable.

If someone gets a $25 item on sale, though, then they aren't on the hook for a bigger gift, because giving a $50 gift because it was two for one throws the gifts out of balance, just as much as someone who get a $5 gift.

As far as this case goes, I'd say it depends on the nature of the exchange.

Is participation totally voluntary?  In other words, do people have to sign up for the Secret santa (rather than automatically being included) and are there genuinely no repercussions, however subtle, professional or social, for those who don't participate?

If it's not, then I can't really fault someone for participating badly. I'd be pretty annoyed to be forced into a gift exchange that's more expensive than gifts I get for anyone but immediate family by my employers.


Venus193

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #29 on: December 19, 2012, 08:49:04 PM »
The problem with a group that small is that participation will feel mandatory even if it actually isn't.  My last office was about 30 people and it felt like the only way to avoid participation would have been to schedule my vacation around the date... which wasn't announced until after the customary deadline for vacation requests had passed.

The spending range was $35-50.  It was suggested (but not required) that we leave small things on the recipient's desk every few days prior to the party, which was three weeks after the selection of names.

The previous company had a $25 limit for 12 people and the one before also did for 30 people (that was by department).

The company before that also did it by department.  My department's spending limit was $10 and we got really creative with it without it being a White Elephant.  For example, my boss bought a sheet of baseball commemorative stamps for a sports nut, I bought a James Bond movie, an airline bottle of vodka, and a cool martini glass for an older gentleman, and someone bought me a box of chocolates.

Sean's last office experience with one of these ended with a male employee cursing out the (at that point) anonymous person who gave him a $25 gift card to a department store.  My jaw hit the floor at that story.