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!" )