questionsshould i be annoyed by my secret santa gift this…


To clarify so that I do not sound like a selfish bastard: I follow the philosophy of "it's the thought that counts." Even if she'd bought me something that I hated and would have never used, I'd have appreciated it more than a $15 Wal-Mart gift card that was probably purchased as an afterthought. Because she would have had to have actually tried.


I'd be happy with the $15 Walmart gift card.


As much as I want to downvote I won't because you are clearly venting. I would take the $15 and put it towards my Christmas shopping.


I think it's a bit over the top to expect someone at work, whom you hardly know, to put in any effort towards getting you a gift. She held up her end of the deal, got you a gift card for the agreed upon amount. It's also much worse form to complain about a gift you've received. You also shouldn't be basing the bar for a decent gift based on how much over the limit you went. Sorry @purplefeather, you overachiever, you.


LOL. I'm not complaining that "I spent more than the minimum, she should have to as well." I was more venting over "I put in a tiny bit of effort, she should have to as well."

There's a lot of context that's being missed by my original question. Like I said, I follow the principle of 'it's the thought that counts." and clearly no thought was put into that $15 gift card. She wasn't short on money or time, nor did she have any sort of family crisis going on. If she'd bothered with a nice note to go with it, that would have been a better gift than just tossing the gift card at me as a sort of afterthought (which is exactly what it felt like. An obligation that needed to be met as quickly as possible).

As @conanthelibrarian said, this was more of a vent. We had the same amount of time to buy a gift. I set out time to try and figure out what she'd like, she didn't do the same for me. That's what annoys me the most.


I don't much like giving gift cards but I have given them a couple of times when I either knew the person really liked starbucks/movies and didn't have much money as a student/newlywed and wouldn't have treated themselves otherwise or as a thank you gift for my job reference friends. Otherwise I try to give something they like, something fun, or something nice but neutral that can be re-gifted.

cf cf

@purplefeather: I would be a little annoyed as well with your situation. Like you said a simple card to go with it would have went a long way. The card could have easily said, "Happy Holidays. I hope to get to know you better, so I don't feel the only safe option for secret Santa is a gift card."


I have never understood how gift cards came to be regarded as a good gift. They are only one degree warmer than cash. They show very little interest or thoughtfulness, and take all the enjoyment out of opening gifts. Unfortunately, they have become a social standard and she probably thought it was a nice gift. My supervisor gives me a handful of lottery tickets every year, which I also find very impersonal. Not that my office gifts are all that intimate, I am giving him a tin of cookies. But to me it's much better because there's something there for him to unwrap, hold in his hand, and enjoy for what it is, not what it might be. So I agree that you have every right to feel annoyed, but I think you should take care not to act annoyed. I think it's just one of those things where you (and I, and some others here) have a different sensibility than the trending mainstream.


@cf: For people whom I don't know well I buy a gift from a B&M major store with a good return policy, then wrap the gift and tuck the receipt into an envelope labeled "receipt". I then encourage the recipient to regard the gift as a 3D gift card and to exchange it if they would prefer something else. That way We both get the pleasure of a real gift, but they have the option of getting something they really want. My best friend did that for me a couple of years ago and I really didn't want the expensive kitchen appliance he'd bought, so I exchanged it for a very nice set of brightly colored pots and baking sheets that I really wanted. I brought him in and said, "Look at this lovely set you got me for Christmas". Thanked him for it and got him to make me a pot hanger so they could be displayed. He felt good about giving me something I really wanted as I am hard to shop for.


A card would have been cool. Hope you get a better person next year! :)


@purplefeather: I'm a bit curious as to whether this exercise was voluntary, or if there was participation by everyone (which means that the one or two who didn't participate would really stand out)? While I'm firmly on the side of "you seem to be taking this a bit too seriously" I do sympathize with your sense of someone not playing fair in this particular instance.

I've participated in many of these secret santa sorts of things over the years, and sometimes opted out (because I just didn't feel like it that year). I've also traded names with someone where I'd drawn a name for a person that I didn't care for. Once I managed to draw my own name (best gift I could have asked for).

I'm hoping very much that we are the only people you are venting to (we're, nice, it's anonymous, and there's no lasting harm).

Friends that know I like coffee have given me Starbucks gift cards. I quietly gave them to others. You don't want your card? Just drop it in a Salvation Army Bucket. Problem gone.


Maybe she agonized over a gift, but couldn't pull the trigger on anything. This happens with my sister in law all the time. I'm not even very close to her, but for some reason, it's important to me to get her the perfect gift, which I never do because I usually get a gift card for something because I just can't figure it out.

Seriously, I would never get anyone I didn't very well know a potted plant unless it's a house warming party.


@shrdlu: So not to hijack or anything, but when you opt out, do you ever feel judged for doing so?


@shrdlu: It was a voluntary thing, yes. Anyone without the money or will to participate could have just let that be known and their names wouldn't have been entered.

Don't worry. I'm not complaining about it at work. I know that complaining about a gift is ungrateful, but I'm just one of those people who only buys gift cards when it's either for a very specific item or when I've never even met the person. If she thought I'd like to get some new music and got me an iTunes card that would have been a whole different thing than a generic Walmart gift card. Just handing me the card as she was leaving work for the day also seemed really lazy and uncaring, since everyone else had wrapped their gifts and exchanged them at the party the night before.

So yeah, I just decided to whine about it to you guys instead of whining at work and causing problems there. I went out and used the money from the card for a surprise BOC that I'll be sending out to a secret Wootizen.


@inkycatz: To answer your question, I've opted out in these things before. Although those were in bigger companies. 100+ employees versus the 6 employees at my current job. I never felt judged. It may be different in smaller, more intimate work environments like where I am now.


@purplefeather: oh, six employees. That is not very many people, not even sort of. If she didn't want to play, there's no graceful way to back out (at least not for most people). I'm really glad to hear you're venting here (and not at work); I don't mind, myself. If it makes you feel better, and you can talk it out, why not?

Turning your card into a present for someone else is sweet. Good for you.

In answer to Ms Inky Catz; Nope. If you met me in real life, you'd probably realize right away that I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin. There are always ways to bow out of something gracefully, without making an issue of it (or at least it's always worked out for me in the past).

I'm a fan of giving home made gifts, but not everyone wants those either.


I've opted out of Secret Santa stuff regularly for years; I just smile and say "no, thank you." If the group is as small as is being discussed, co-workers already know I'm not a Christian and pretty much don't expect participation from me..

I'm personally inclined to give the new employee a large portion of benefit of the doubt. No one knows what's going on with her: sick family member, stressed out from trying to be successful in a new job, flat broke and an office gift she can't get out of means someone else she really cares about gets less, etc. The complaint seems to be that she wasn't cheery and Christmasy enough; she purchased the requisite gift, but I don't recall any mention of an obligatory rah-rah attitude being part of the rules.


I am new to this office
Unbeknownst to me the office is in the habit of adopting 2 families each year and getting them gifts, they are then wrapped and delivered to the families by representatives of the office on behalf of the company we work for.

I just came in one day to see a long list of items with the instruction to sign up for something. I didn’t mainly because we prefer to give in different ways and since we had already spent almost $500 this season on charitable efforts and I really couldn’t afford as much as we had already done (pledged some things for future months and they took it from my credit card right away anyway)

At some point things got more interesting as everything was wrapped and put under the tree at work. The wrapping cubical happened to be next to mine and I saw most of the things being wrapped. I was shocked to see how much money people were spending when the requested item was a cooking pan for example there would be an entire set of cooking ware.


Anyway at some point a comment was made about me not having participated and that it was ok because they knew I did things in other ways. But it sounded kind of funny if it was ok then why did you bring it up in the first place ?

Anyway I ended up at the last minute taking what I had received at the gift exchange (an ice cream maker) and wrapping it up and putting it under the tree to go with the donated items because it had become very awkward since I hadn’t participated. What this poor presumably economically disadvantaged family is going to do with a battery operated ice cream maker I don’t know but everyone did seem happier to see me participate.


So, what if she got you a $15 Walmart gift card that you can use or should be able to use, and she received from you a thoughtful but useless gift?

So in this scenario, her effort provided you with $15 that you can use or should be able to use, and your effort provided her with no benefit.

[/devil's advocate]


@chris12345: I actually spent the 3 weeks we had between picking names out of the hat and getting the gift paying attention so that I had a pretty good idea of what she'd like.

She seemed pretty happy with her gift. It's something she can use, and indeed I saw her wearing the earrings I bought her today at work. If she didn't care enough to write a quick note to go with my gift card, I doubt she'd care enough to wear a gift that she hates just to spare my feelings.

That's beside the point. As I've said before, whether you agree with me or not, I needed to vent. I saw the whole thing as lacking social graces, but as other people have mentioned here, she might be of a different mindset where her presentation was acceptable. It's really not that big a deal. I said I was annoyed, not angry.


Ah, sounds like a former co-worker at my job! The secret Santa exchange was limited to $10 or less though. The one co-worker rarely bought gifts and just gave a gift card (I don't like receiving gift cards often either, I prefer an actual gift, even if it's not something I love...I regift or exchanged those, lol!). The worst part was picking her, because she wasn't easy to shop for, and she had NO problem expressing her dislike in a gift! She ended up with a gift card (and we knew what to get her...gas cards or Best Buy cards, lol) most years, lol!

At least you found a use for the gift card....