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Old 12-21-2006, 05:04 PM   #1
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Gift giving at work

Where is Miss Manners or Tina Lee when you need her?? I work for a huge company so it's possible I'll be at one unit for a year, and then move to another and stay there 2 years, or only 6 months... I've had more changes to my business cards than someone in witness protection.

I never know what to do about gift giving. Several years ago I received several gifts from co-workers (some subordinate, some not). To my chagrin, I hadn't planned on giving. No one talked about it, prior...yet they all seemed in on the gig. Colour me red, indeed. The next year, still at that location, we all exhanged appropriately. Fast forward to the next christmas and I'm at a new location. Again, no discussion, but I go ahead and make a few purchases. The only one who reciprocated was my boss. What a great bottle of booze, too!

Okay, mayhaps I don't have this down as well as I thought. I always assumed you didn't prewarn a person regarding an intended gift. The joy is in the giving, not the giving them enough notice to go get you something too, yes?

Which brings me to this year. Another new location, but I've been firmly entrenched here for just short of a year. Quick math will tell you I got here in early January. First, I decide to make a purchase for my immediate superior and my administrative assistant. Then I realize I don't really like them well enough to want to spend any hard earned cash on them when a girl like me can just as easily save it for Mardi Gras. Uncharitable, to say the least....so I think perhaps just a small token gift. Finally, I decided to add them to the honoured list of people who receive my homemade treasured cookies. A tray from me has no less than 16 different varieties of cookies and candies, all homemade. Wrapped in a lovely platter with silver and gold lamé ribbons, they are magnificent. I brought them in today because my superior is leaving for vacation this evening.

The trays were a huge success, well received and deeply appreciated. Unfortunately, I've got to seriously rethink this whole co-worker gift giving thing....I got two nice 'thank yous' and a big bowl of air. .... I'm not upset or anything like that...just chagrined, once again.

Either you have to discuss it in advance, which effectively spoils the festive mood for the ladies....or you take your chances like the rest of the fish in the barrel.

Or, perish the thought....mayhaps it's just ME?????

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Old 12-21-2006, 05:13 PM   #2
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I think you have to ask if you want to avoid the awkwardness. I appreciate how that sort of ruins the gift-giving ideal, but workplaces are different.

When you go to a new location, around Thanksgiving, you ask someone who's opinion you value, "What do folks do for Christmas gift giving around here?".

No one is going to approach you unbidded and say, "We don't exchange gifts". If there is some organized secret santa or yankee swap, you'll probably be informed.
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Old 12-21-2006, 05:37 PM   #3
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I'm with Andy.

It is always nice just to give but a business type situaton can be tough. And there are expectations.

Would next time find someone I was reasonably friendly with, preferably one who likes to chat, and ask, just casually, if there is a secret Santa or anything.

Every workplace has a few who like to gab.

Or you can be more subtle and during a break let the discussion flow to Christmas and mention that you worked at a place that had a secret Santa. A good approach if you don't want to be too blunt.

Just know that you are not alone in these dilemmas.

We all face them.

Just wish I could get my cookie monster paws on a plate of your goodies.

Merry Christmas.
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:01 PM   #4
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i'll take a tray, vera!



drooling
smiley
goes
here



sending to philso in japan will do, as the post people all know me.
i'll reciprocate with some karma.
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:20 PM   #5
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You people get breaks????????????????? Wow, good for you!!!!

This isn't your normal office type situation. There is an ops director, the executive chef (me), an administrative assistant and about 25 kitchen and utility staff members who report directly to me.

I never felt it was appropriate to get involved in the secret santa thing with those who report to me. There's no one at my level besides the ops director.
Most of my staff don't understand the idea of 'secret santa', and I'd feel guilty expressing interest in it because their hourly wages would prohibit it. ( I don't set the pay scale...there is a union that does that)

I'm not entirely lacking in social graces and the idea of casually bringing it up always occurs to me. Honestly, in all my recent situations, there really is no one to bring it up to.

If I send cookies to any of you....what do I get in return
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Old 12-21-2006, 06:32 PM   #6
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Sorry about the suggestions Vera.

'Fraid you are just gonna have to go with your guts on this one.

No one, but no one, can ever be faulted for a lovely cookie plate.

Again, Merry Christmas.
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Old 12-22-2006, 01:36 AM   #7
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I actually pulled out my Miss Manners to see what she had to say about all of this, but mostly it was about how to write a thank you note for office gifts, so, not much help ... (but I'm ready to quote if that's your next question, Vera!).

So here's my take instead:

Secret Santa's one of the most democratic and fair approaches to office giving and I think engenders the least resentment (unless somebody's just wildly Scrooge-like). It's also one of the few times I think it makes perfect sense to include everybody in the fun, from the cleaner to the boss, since a sum of money that's reasonable for everybody's usually specified. You may have 25 reporting to you Vera, but on that day you'll just be one of the crowd getting a single, modest gift. It's easy, and it works.

As for who should arrange it? In my experience, that's one of the things a good administrative assistant should take upon her (fine, her/his) shoulders. That, or somebody in Personnel. Everybody pretending these things organize themselves is just foolish -- somebody always needs to spell out the nitty-gritty details of an office, and that includes the social details.

Of course if there are also special friendships within the office, extra gifts can be added on to the S.S. gift. One just hopes the giver and the recipient have the good sense to do such things a bit discreetly ...
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Old 12-22-2006, 05:57 AM   #8
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That's it, I've gotta ditch this account. Everything everyone says makes perfect sense. I think I work with a bunch of scrooges. That is sooooooooo wrong of an atmosphere for me. Talk about ruining the festive mood for the ladies....
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Old 12-22-2006, 07:11 AM   #9
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back again, this time in a non-standard serious vein, having considered your situation.

with the best of all intentions, i think you commited a serious social faux pas. not too different (from a reciever's point of view) from giving someone a $100 bill. i mean, how are they supposed to respond?

you'd have been better off giving them a pen set. small, nearly meaningless, yet allowing them to not only respond with something equally meaningless in a socially comfortable way but, by simply using the pen at work, they could demonstrate that they don't actually dispise you. (it hasn't actually gotten to that point, has it?)

the intrinsic value of your cookies may have been little, but you may possibly have blown them away with the percieved heartfelt value. let's face it, the only way they could have reciprocated with grace would be to run home and whip up a brandied fruit cake; not in your average joe or joyce's repertoire. either that or come up with that book or cd you haven't been able to get ahold of. they may have felt that a pen set or even a bottle of wine wouldn't cut the mustard.

the other thing i was thinking is this; maybe they're just a couple of jerks who don't know the first thing about the people they work with on a daily basis, and you shouldn't worry your head about them. they obviously don't know what every other member of this board knows about you....


a bottle of wine would have been just fine!!!


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Old 12-22-2006, 08:58 AM   #10
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HA!

I said the very same thing just this morning to Lou....how hard would it have been to get a bottle of wine? ****-o, one could have been jacked from the wine 'basement' that we use for catering parties!! .

I'm going with the theory that they just don't get 'it'. So there.

You should come to christmas eve dinner...
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