Monday, December 23, 2013

Workplace Gift Exchanges, Oh How I Hate Thee

For my current job, and for the one prior to this, there has been the holiday gift exchange. I don't know what it's called's the one where you buy a generic gift for a set dollar amount, pick a number at the holiday party, and when your number is called you can pick a new gift or steal someone else's. I have heard of this being called a Chinese pollyanna, and originally I thought it was supposed consist of gag gifts. However, it seems that many workplaces have adapted this to be less gag and more generic.

Whatever they are called, I hate them.

I do not participate in them. I think they are ridiculous for the following reasons:

1. I don't see the sense in spending money on a buying something that no one needs only to receive a gift in return that I likely don't want or need.

2. Many times, people resort to purchasing alcohol as their gift. I love a nice bottle of wine, but the way they steal booze from each other makes me wonder if we're living in the prohibition era. I'd rather spend my $15 buying myself a nice bottle of wine than leaving it up to luck.

3. Most importantly, this year it goes against my anti-consumerism grain.

I was hoping to just slide in under the radar at the holiday party when I showed up empty handed, but one of my coworkers was aware of my nonparticipation. She looked at me like I had three heads when I told her I wasn't doing it. After the party, another coworker asked me what I got and I told her I didn't participate because I just had too much going on at home and I didn't have time to even think about the gift exchange.

This whole situation made me feel awkward, slightly ashamed, and angry. Awkward because I didn't have a reason for not participating that they could comprehend, ashamed because I didn't have the nerve to tell the truth (I was prepared to use my recently deceased dog as an excuse), and angry because who are they to judge?

Maybe next year I'll have a bit more confidence in my beliefs to share them, in a gentle way, with others. Unfortunately, this holiday season dictates that I behave otherwise.

Am I the only one who feels this way? Have you encountered this in your workplace? How have you handled it? Please share! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi, just found your blog through single mom enough and I totally agree with you on these useless gifts. Shopping is not "fun" for me, it's a job to do as quickly and economically as possible. So I get no satisfaction, no happy glow to give or receive tacky, made in China clutter. One of the first things I learned about decluttering was not to bring clutter into my house!
    I don't want to offend people either, but I let them know in a gentle way, that I (and my money) have different priorities. Keeping a budget and having a financial goal are the motivations that help me stay focused.