Author Topic: Cheap Secret Santa  (Read 11884 times)

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Yarnspinner

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #45 on: December 20, 2012, 11:44:28 AM »
Scary true story about "Secret Valentine" gift giving.

We used to do this at my job years ago to lift morale during what we considered the grayest month of the year. 

Limits were set at ten dollars (and of course, more creative people could make the dollars stretch further).

For one week you were supposed to do tiny things for your Secret Valentine.  Or you could just wait until the 14th and sneak a gift onto their desk.  There was no encouragement to reveal yourself at all--that was part of the fun. 

As I said, some people were more creative than others.  One year I got the name of a coworker who loved dogs, chocolate and who had a name that isn't one people write odes about.  Also, I had very little money.

So on the first day, I used old poster board to let everyone know that today was officially "Coworker X Day" and that everyone should give her a smile when they saw her.  People got into it, drawing smilie faces on post it notes and sticking them to her when she passed by.  She was full of post its by the end of the day.  Because her love of chocolate gave her headaches, I left a bottle of aspirin one day and a candy bar the next.  I found cute stories about dogs and slipped them onto her desk and found a poem that incorpoated her name into it and copied it out with a collage...it was so much fun for me and, it turned out, for her.  I ended it up with a stuffed animal and a plate of home made brownies.  Total cost was under ten bucks.

The same year another coworker got, as her only surprise, a red hot shortie nightie that had obviously been worn (it smelled of smoke and perfume) and a set of half used massage oils.

The year after, someone received pictures of human hearts in addition to an over the top presentation of an enormous leafy plant that clearly was waaaaaay over the set budget.

The third year, the crazy struck again:  a woman received several pairs of leopard skin undies and a hotel room key to a certain hotel in NYC.  At that point, another coworker and I were pretty sure we knew the culprit:  that hotel room key was a give away as we were aware that another coworker had been in NYC the previous week and had bragged about staying at Pricey Hotel.

The following year, Secret Valentine was cancelled because of Strange Scary Gift Giver and also because some people were springing for 25 cent chocolate for the last day while others were being a lot more creative about what they did.  While it's true that you can't expect everyone to participate on the same level, it was kind of mean that some folks smugly demanded that so-and-so get THEIR name so they got good gifts, all the while, not giving anything at all to the person whose name they drew. 

It was ugly.

THIS year some of the teens who work with us wanted a secret santa and we allowed it.  Unfortunately, some of them had rather inflated ideas about what a gift should cost.  "Fifty dollars" was the rallying cry of the young man who organized the event.  Fortunately, his female counterparts over ruled him and set the bar at fifteen.  Or as one of them put it "Are you CRAZY?  I know I DON'T have fifty dollars to spend and I know for a fact that your raggedy *** hasn't got two quarters to rub together."

We suspect he was hoping that, because adult full time staff was also participating, he would get something good.  He was kind of disappointed.

(P.S., I was horrified when my Secret Santa gave me an amazon gift card.  Thrilled because I am an amazon addict, horrified because it was $25.  She was SO proud of herself for thinking of it.  I hope I did the right thing in thanking her profusely, telling her I loved it and NOT saying "You don't have this kind of money to spend!" )
« Last Edit: December 20, 2012, 11:50:07 AM by Yarnspinner »

LibraryLady

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #46 on: December 20, 2012, 03:02:57 PM »
First of all, who leaves the price tag on a gift, is what I know  :-[ ?

Second, one should take into consideration all of the employees financial and
religious backgrounds.

Third, we had a person who knew the drawee's and would speak to the person who
gave 'cheap' or inappropriate gifts and straightened them out

of course YMMV

zyrs

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #47 on: December 20, 2012, 03:18:53 PM »
The only times I have ever participated in 'Secret Santa gift exchanges' have not endeared me to the practice.

The first one was the one time my family tried to do the draw names thing.  The person who drew my name (I found out later) never found what they thought would be a good present for me, but did find good presents (plural) for everyone else.  So Christmas came around and everyone else had lots of presents, and I had none.  Cue big uncomfortable moment where everyone in the room realizes you are the only person without a present and the person who had your name spends the rest of the day justifying themselves.

The second time was in a hobby group.  Some of us signed up for a Secret Santa, we were given names and so on.  Unfortunately the person given my name forgot whose name they had, so just picked a random person to give a present.   Luckily this was something that was mailed, so there wasn't the big uncomfortable moment like last time.

So, I just avoid them. 

Drawberry

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #48 on: December 20, 2012, 03:25:02 PM »
The only times I have ever participated in 'Secret Santa gift exchanges' have not endeared me to the practice.

The first one was the one time my family tried to do the draw names thing.  The person who drew my name (I found out later) never found what they thought would be a good present for me, but did find good presents (plural) for everyone else.  So Christmas came around and everyone else had lots of presents, and I had none.  Cue big uncomfortable moment where everyone in the room realizes you are the only person without a present and the person who had your name spends the rest of the day justifying themselves.

The second time was in a hobby group.  Some of us signed up for a Secret Santa, we were given names and so on.  Unfortunately the person given my name forgot whose name they had, so just picked a random person to give a present.   Luckily this was something that was mailed, so there wasn't the big uncomfortable moment like last time.

So, I just avoid them.

That all sounds very unpleasant as a whole. I can't imagine how someone would honestly believe they where justified in just not getting you something because they didn't feel like they could find you 'the perfect gift'. A homemade tin of cookies would have been thoughtful at the very least..

I am on the fence with the Secret Santa shindig being this is only my second year participating with Boyfriends family, the main reason I chose to participate is that his mother see's it as a family gathering event and it's important to her that Boyfriend and I are included in this. So far it hasn't been particularly bad for me and if it stays that way I'll have no issues continuing.


Otterpop

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #49 on: December 20, 2012, 03:31:04 PM »
Oh this reminds me of a bad Secret Santa I had about 15 years ago.

Co-workers were getting cute stuff all month, messages on their desks, stealth decorations, etc.  I made sure my person got candy every day in places around the office.  I got...nothing.  At the big reveal party several of the "official" gifts were similarly creative and fun.  With a $10 limit, some were pretty impressive.

I received, from our receptionist, who I thought like me, a 3-inch balsa wood bare-bulb "lamp" with a plastic bead elf glued to the base.  I let out a surprise giggle, then stifled it.  A few around me asked in a whisper if it was a joke, or did someone hate me...I couldn't make it out.  But I caught the receptionists eye and thanked her politely.  She looked at me dubiously then turned to talk to someone else.  Either she did it on purpose or she did not believe my acting...I'll never know.  We did not interact much after that.

I seriously dislike Secret Santa because it's always such a gamble.  I guess if you go into it with the intention of pleasing someone else and not expecting anything in return, it's great.  Talking to the "cheap" person will not be effective because they may think their purchases are entirely appropriate.

And Yarnspinner:  Ewww, ewww, ewww...USED lingerie!!!  Was it a gift or a bio-weapon?  Who does that?!!!
« Last Edit: December 20, 2012, 03:40:58 PM by Otterpop »

Venus193

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #50 on: December 20, 2012, 05:01:27 PM »
Quote
Ewww, ewww, ewww...USED lingerie!!!  Was it a gift or a bio-weapon?  Who does that?!!

A perv.

Yarnspinner

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #51 on: December 20, 2012, 05:40:06 PM »
Exactly Venus.  We could never actually prove it, but said person often said or did the strangest things which always had us looking at each other in shock.  "Did they really just say--?"  "Did they really just do--?"

Yes, they reall just did."

It wasn't much of a stretch to put the used lingerie debacle at their feet.

Yarnspinner

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #52 on: December 20, 2012, 05:43:57 PM »
On the other hand, there was a *nice* Secret Valentine episode where one young girl was so excited and having such a good time gifting her Secret Valentine and she was terribly upset, but being determinedly brave when HER Secret Valentine slipped a single small chocolate bar onto her desk.  And nothing more.

Her department was so outraged becuse she WAS so young and such a lovely person that they pooled some of what they had received (and others went to the store next door) and they spent the rest of the day sneaking diffferent little surprises onto her desk, ending with a box of chocolates.  I've often wondered what HER Secret Valentine thought when she sent out the email thanking them for all the lovely little treats.

The flip side was another coworker who sent out a very nasty email complaining that her Secret Valentine hadn't done a thing for her at all.  It was way too whiney.

blarg314

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #53 on: December 20, 2012, 09:56:07 PM »
I've only been in once office that did the Secret Santa thing. It was optional, and you had to sign up for it. The limit was something like $10. And the office was a large one (> 200 people) so that it wasn't obvious if you opted out. I think the participation rate was about 50%.

My question to the OP - What would happen if the cheap giver said "You know, I don't like Secret Santas. I'm on a tight budget, I hate shopping, and I'm crazy busy over Christmas  so I don't have time to painstakingly craft/select the perfect inexpensive gift (or, for that matter "I'm Hindu/Muslim/Jewish/athiest"). Why don't you guys just go on without me?"

With a group as small as 9 people, if the answer is anything other than the rest of you being totally fine with it (and the non-participator then not having to sit by and watch the gift exchange), then it's not really an optional event. And if it would be totally fine, then I think it's worth directly saying next year, before the names are handed out, that people can sign up if they want, but given the tight economy, people will not automatically be entered. And then do the gift exchange off site, outside of working hours.

If coworkers were complaining that I wasn't putting enough thought and care into a work mandated gift exchange that I couldn't opt out of, I'd be sorely tempted by the PA bad gift option.

siamesecat2965

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #54 on: December 20, 2012, 10:10:43 PM »
I guess I should consider myself lucky since the few times at different jobs we've done a secret santa, I've gotten something nice. One year, we combined all depts under our one director, and the limit was $10. I had someone who i didn't really care all that much for, a former boss, actually, so perhaps I didn't put as much thought into it as I could have, but i still found something nice for her. and mine gave me a starbucks gc,

Another job, I was a temp, but we all participated, and we all had to list 3 things we liked/would be a nice idea, etc. the woman i had loved moose, so i got her a mousepad and calendar with moose on them, and my SS gave me a lovely bath set.

some of the stories make me wonder what people give friends and family if they give things like these for secret santas!

Bijou

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #55 on: December 21, 2012, 12:03:58 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.
You read my mind. 
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Bijou

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #56 on: December 21, 2012, 12:22:16 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.
I think it is surprising that anyone would make a judgement about someone spending less for a gift (and possibly all they can afford) but not about those who overspend. 
She may not want to opt out because it would be awkward for all if she were the only one with no gift.  I think you just have to look at it in the spirit of what it is and appreciate the thought.  Maybe it's time to think about lowering the amount you may spend or instead take up a collection and present it to a childrens organization, the food bank or something like that.
I've never knitted anything I could recognize when it was finished.  Actually, I've never finished anything, much to my family's relief.

humptynumpty

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #57 on: December 21, 2012, 02:13:27 AM »
In my new office, they do a secret santa but it's for charity.  Participants pick a name and then buy a gift they think that person would have wanted as a child.  We all open the gifts, ooo and aaaaaa, and they are donated to a local charity.  Its voluntary, but people are really happy to buy a gift they had as a child and enjoyed, or something that reflects the person chosen.  And there is no stress about what to get someone, if you can only afford a smaller toy, its all okay.  And it all stays secret.  The person opens the gift, but its always signed from Santa.  I really love the exchange.

DottyG

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #58 on: December 21, 2012, 02:53:01 AM »
What a fun idea! I love that.


rabbit_woman

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Re: Cheap Secret Santa
« Reply #59 on: December 21, 2012, 08:48:23 AM »
Someone opted out of the secret santa where i used to work - they were the only person to do so - and they got given a mug of humbugs, which i thought was really mean. So what if they wanted to opt out - noone lost out. They opted out before the draw - but it clearly was not a very popular thing to do.

I am getting seriously fed up of secret santa - i do it every year with a load of my pals, but i don't enjoy buying presents and i don't enjoy getting them - although i love getting together with all my pals and loved ones, eating good food and drinking mulled wine...... i spent ages trying to find an ace secret santa this year, the limit was 10, and i spent 9.99 - in return, i got a 3 box of jelly beans that i could not eat because they contained geleatin - i am vegetarian. i felt somehow cheated, adn that is NOT how you should feel at xmas!