Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

How Much Money Do You Contribute to Office Gifts and Parties?

From the forums because I thought this was an interesting topic for discussion:

the_office_party-2191

What’s the etiquette for contributing money to office parties and gifts?

I feel like I am asked to contribute to some sort of group gift every other week and it’s getting to be a lot. Last week I was asked to contribute 50 dollars towards a farewell party for someone I barely worked with. The request was from my boss, so it obviously needs to be managed sensitively.

I ended up declining the party by saying that I was busy that night, but I’m wondering if anyone has a better idea on how to manage? I’d like to contribute but not feel pressured to do so every time or in large amounts. How do others navigate this? What’s the normal amount to gift? I make a good salary but am trying to budget now for personal goals like buying a place. — Working It Out

Fifty bucks is a lot to ask one individual to contribute to an office party or gift. In my experience five or ten bucks is more the norm for that kind of thing, but my experience, of course, is narrowly-based, and I’m sure that in some offices, and certainly in some industries, $50 IS “normal.” But you aren’t comfortable contributing that much and, regardless of your reasoning, in a work environment where gift contributions are voluntary, you should not feel obligated to contribute or guilty if you don’t, especially if you hardly know the person whom the gift or party is even for.

If there’s not a party committee or department or office fund designated for gifts and parties, I would recommend suggesting to your boss or to the HR department that something like that be created. If you are still asked to voluntarily contribute money that you aren’t comfortable contributing, you need to come up with a blanket response that you can give each time you’re asked — one that doesn’t pass you off as stingy or not being a team player or whatever other negative thing your colleagues might think of you simply because you refuse to fork over your hard-earned cash every other week for someone’s shower or birthday or going-away party. If you give the same response each time, people won’t take your “no” personally (and they will hopefully stop asking). You could say something like, “Thank you so much for including me, but I’m celebrating so-and-so’s [birthday/shower/promotion/retirement] a different way.” What’s that different way? Doesn’t matter, no one’s business. It’s better to leave it vague and let people use their imaginations.

I’m curious how other people handle this kind of thing at their places of work. Do you contribute individually for colleagues’ gifts and parties or do you have a department fund or committee that handles that stuff? Are contributions withdrawn from your paycheck? Are you usually asked to contribute the same amount? Have you ever said no? If so, how did you word it, and did you feel like you were “punished” for saying no? Do/did you worry about how your response will affect your work relationships? HAS your response affected your work relationships?

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60 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Kate June 24, 2014, 9:14 am

    That sounds like a lot! At my company, which is relatively small but not a startup anymore, when people join or have a farewell, there’s usually a lunch or “happy hour,” and someone picks up the tab and expenses it, so no one has to contribute out of pocket.

    If someone is having a baby or something, we’ll occasionally get asked to contribute toward a gift (recently a colleague took up a donation for another woman’s baby shower, to get people to kick in for a Babies R Us gift card), but it’s usually not much. Never as much as $50! In this case I think everyone contributed $20, but it felt optional, definitely no pressure. I contributed because I really like this woman and she works on my projects. I may not have if she wasn’t someone I really work with. I feel like this kind of thing happens pretty rarely and sometimes all they’re asking for is $5.

    That’s my experience, but I think Wendy’s advice is good. The company may be willing to contribute for things like this so people don’t always have to pay out of pocket.

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    • avatar

      Kate June 24, 2014, 9:18 am

      And I’d say, if you *want* to contribute, and someone asks you for $50, you can definitely say, “oh, I can’t do $50 right now, but I’d like to kick in something, here’s $20.”

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 24, 2014, 9:28 am

        Oh that’s good too.

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      • avatar

        Kate June 24, 2014, 9:43 am

        Or pretend like you have x amount of cash in your wallet, give it to them, and then just never follow up 😉

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray June 24, 2014, 9:24 am

    I think that’s a lot to ask in any office – *unless* each person asked to pay up was part of the group decision to each pay that amount, you know? For example, a secretary resigned and three of us decided to chip in for a gift certificate to a spa that cost like $75 each, so when my coworker came in and said “gimme $75” it was not unexpected. The only “forced” contributions I’ve experienced like that have been “$5 or however much you’d like to contribute.” And that’s coming from a law firm environment where everyone including the support staff makes decent salaries (relatively). I think saying, “thanks but I’m doing something on my own” is a great response. No one bats an eye and no one asks what you’re doing. It could be that you’re going to sing her a ballad, ha.

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  • avatar

    Jenny June 24, 2014, 9:26 am

    I work for a non-profit. Sometimes I’m asked to contribute toward gifts, and usually it’s in the $5-$10 range. Every now and then we’ll do a pot luck luncheon after a staff meeting. Other than that, any parties are paid for by the agency and we aren’t asked to contribute. My boss has never asked me to contribute money, it’s always been my coworkers. If my boss asked me for $50 that’d be super awkward. My boss and I have a friendly relationship but she’s still my boss so I’d feel awkward saying no. But I guess I’d just decline the invite or say it wasn’t in my budget…as long as you don’t try and take any credit for something you didn’t contribute to financially, I don’t see the issue!

    At my last job I did go to a couple bridal/baby showers during office hours. We didn’t have to go, you didn’t have to give a gift. I just gave some gifts off of their registries and wasn’t asked to contribute to the party itself. I just think everyone needs to remember that you’re never obligated to give a gift! Let people know how to contribute if they want to, but asking people for x amount of dollars for a gift/party they had no part in planning is super tacky in my opinion.

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  • Addie Pray

    Addie Pray June 24, 2014, 9:26 am

    Also this one works well: “Shoot, I have no cash on me.” I do that when they try to ding me for wearing jeans. The money for such offenses goes to a charity but still, come on, man.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy June 24, 2014, 9:34 am

      Wait, what? You have to pay a cash fine if you wear jeans in the office? How much? Is this sort of like a swear jar only it’s a jeans jar? I’m so intrigued!

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      • avatar

        Jenny June 24, 2014, 9:43 am

        They had a similar policy at my last office. You could wear jeans on Fridays for free. But you could also wear them on Thursdays for $1 and the $1 was donated to March of Dimes.

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      • avatar

        jlyfsh June 24, 2014, 9:45 am

        M has to do that too. He can contribute to a fund and do dress down Fridays. It always goes to a different charity!

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      • kmtthat

        kmentothat June 24, 2014, 9:48 am

        We have “jeans day” every other Friday. We have to pay $5 to be allowed to wear jeans and it goes to a charity…even if you aren’t client facing (like me). I haven’t paid for jeans day in months because a. I had no say in the charity, b. I know we are just doing it to be able to SAY how charitable the company is in marketing materials, and c. I dress very appropriately, jeans or not. Accounting, man.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 24, 2014, 9:48 am

        Pretty much. We’re not allowed to wear jeans to work. Just suits and businessy things. But you can wear jeans if you pay $5 to charity (unless you can’t – e.g., court, client meetings, etc.). So the rule is: you can’t but you can, unless you can’t… and $5 goes to charity. Except when “oops I have no cash on me.”

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      • avatar

        BecBoo84 June 24, 2014, 9:54 am

        A lot of companies have “casual Fridays,” or whatever, and I think they’re loosely based off the below:

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      • avatar

        MsMisery June 25, 2014, 12:23 pm

        I am so glad I work in a casual-every-day office. I am in business casual maybe 3x a year.

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    • honeybeenicki

      honeybeenicki June 24, 2014, 11:19 am

      Hmm I wear jeans all the time and I work in a gov’t office and have face-to-face contact with the general public. But I’m not supposed to wear jeans on “court days” (when I have to be up in court).
      .
      But I did work in a call center (so NO face-to-face with anyone) and we were required to wear dress pants, shirts, and shoes. Once in awhile they would have “jeans days” that we could pay for and even had a time that we could buy “sports days” (wear a jersey) and a few other ones that I can’t remember. But then the overall average call times for the office got bad and they took away all of our jeans days, etc and didn’t even return the money! What the hell?

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    • avatar

      Aurora June 24, 2014, 2:03 pm

      Oh we had this at my old law firm too, pay $1 on Friday to a charity to wear jeans. The collection jar was in my supervisor’s office and I could not freaking stand her so I’d try to wait until she stepped away from her desk and then dart in quickly to leave my dollar. Ugh do not miss those days. We have casual Fridays in the summer at my new company, but the way the policy is written, it’s literally no different from what I wear normally (no jeans allowed). Weird.

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      • Addie Pray

        Addie Pray June 24, 2014, 3:51 pm

        It kind of makes you wonder, what on earth did denim do to get such a bad rep? I have jeans that are much nicer than the pajama-like dresses I tend to wear…. Ok, who am I kidding, I don’t have nice jeans. But other people do!! 🙂

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      • avatar

        ktfran June 24, 2014, 4:03 pm

        Oh my god, my old boss/friend, who was on a power trip once reprimanded me for wearing jeans on a day that wasn’t Friday. I kindly pointed out that she often wears jeans during the week. Her reply “they’re denim trousers, not jeans.” And I’m one of those people with “nice jeans.”
        .
        Her motto: “do as I say, not as I do.”

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    • avatar

      Daisy June 25, 2014, 6:28 am

      This is all so foreign to me and definitely one of the reasons I questions if I could ever move back to the US! Everything in Israel is super casual. I work for a huge international company, and I can wear jeans, shorts, whatever. Whenever guests come from abroad we have to warn them not to dress up too much! Of course, the down side of this is that people wore jeans to my wedding.

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  • Portia

    Portia June 24, 2014, 9:29 am

    I’m a grad student, so my experience with these types of things is colored by the fact that we’re barely making enough for living expenses… But my lab is pretty close and apparently a lot of us are getting married and having babies. I’m not sure why the getting married part is usually secretive (maybe they don’t want to invite everyone?), but if someone is expecting (or we hear through the grapevine that someone had a baby already), an email goes out for contributions from grad students towards a larger gift, usually in the $5-10 range each. The envelope is put somewhere and everyone is on the honor system to contribute and add your name to the card.
    .
    For birthdays (usually in groups of birthdays, except the professors that head the lab get their own), our lab buys a cake or two and everyone’s invited (nothing is expected for gifts). And for going-aways, we sometimes get a lunch or something together, but people pay their own way (sometimes the lab will cover the honoree).

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  • avatar

    ktfran June 24, 2014, 9:45 am

    I work for a 45,000 person firm, so right now, if I contribute anything, it’s for my small group of coworkers and I have no problem pitching in for a wedding or baby shower gift, or flowers if someone’s close family has passed away. It’s never more than $20 though. We’re not asked to contribute anything on a company-wide basis.
    .
    My previous firm was super family oriented and we all knew one another. If there was a collection, you could contribute however much you wanted and they usually bought a gift card for the collected amount. I liked that, because there was no pressure and if you could give as little or as much as you wanted.
    .
    I can’t imagine being asked to give $50 for someone I barely know. I would have a problem with that too. I like Kate’s suggestion though.

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  • avatar

    jlyfsh June 24, 2014, 9:46 am

    I’ve had different jobs that were all the place with this. I think it would be nice if we could have done like a $10 out of your paycheck thing so there was always money. Recently my job has just let us sort our own thing out. If we want to contribute we can, if not we don’t. Usually my smaller office ends up doing something together. I don’t really have any good advice though, because we don’t have a good policy for it!

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  • avatar

    Laura Hope June 24, 2014, 9:56 am

    When I was heavily (and I’m talking heavily) pressured to contribute a large sum of money, I said “sure, I could do that. Or I could send my kid to camp. I choose camp.” That shut them right up. (And I know everyone else was secretly jealous).

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  • rubyroo

    Ruby June 24, 2014, 9:58 am

    $50 does sound steep.
    In places I’ve worked it’s usually around $10 or $20. Sometimes the amount is left open and people contribute only if they want to, and only how much they want to.
    If I was asked for $50 for a person I didn’t know that well, I might say: “$50 is a bit much for me right now but I’m happy to contribute $20”. Nobody should be expected to keep forking over endless amounts of money all the time.

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  • dizziej

    Jennifer June 24, 2014, 10:14 am

    I have worked in offices that had a “social fund” they automatically deducted $5 from your pay check each month. All lunches, showers, farewell and birthday gifts were paid for out of the social fund. The office I currently work in, takes their employees out for lunch once a month on the company, no social fund required. They have a birthday “club” if you choose to participate you purchase the card and cake for the person whose birthday falls after yours. So mine is on the 13th and my best work buddy is on the 14th. I would buy her card and cake. She buys for the next and so on. I think this is great because you are only asked to contribute once a year. So far (and I’ve only been here just over 3 months) there have been no other requests for funds.

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  • avatar

    mcj2012 June 24, 2014, 10:27 am

    In my experience we also asked for a donation of whatever people wanted to contribute. We never put a price on it and it never went over $20 unless it was the boss and let’s face it they can put in more $$.

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  • avatar

    csp June 24, 2014, 10:37 am

    I have never had things deducted from my pay check. I have contributed $50 before but, like Addie said above, it was for someone that I was very close to. My husband will chip in for his boss’s Christmas gift every year and that is in response to the yearly bonus so the amount seems fair.

    Ultimately, I look at that money as networking. The person that is leaving the office might be the person who helps you get your next job. As a recruiter, you wouldn’t believe how many people who I submit to jobs and find out that an old coworker blackballed them at the client.

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 June 24, 2014, 10:39 am

    $50 is high. In my office we give for a LOT of things, and I’m starting to get fatigued from it! We take up a collection for the boss’ birthday every year, boss’s day, if someone leaves they get a going away present, if someone has a baby, a wedding, milestone birthdays, etc.

    We had a new guy start in February and his wife had a baby in April. Awesome for him. But he can’t seem to even remember my name, so no, I didn’t want to contribute 20 bucks for his new baby. I’m sorry, but if you’ve been here for two months and you’re in the office next to me and you still get my name wrong even though I work with you on a day to day basis, I don’t feel inclined to contribute to your kid. Especially since I’ve given for about 10 other things in the past weeks.

    And I know this is stupid and petty, but I’ve been there for three years and I’ve never gotten a gift. I either have to leave, get married, turn 50 or have a kid, and I plan on doing none of those any time soon, so I guess I’ll just keep giving for others! lol

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  • avatar

    Scooze June 24, 2014, 10:45 am

    I’ve worked in a number of different offices and seen quite a lot of things. At one place (where people made fairly high salaries – but not that high), when someone got married or had a baby, we were actually expected to buy something off of their registry. My boss gave a co-worker a $400 gift. I guess that was supposed to “set the tone” for the rest of us. I think I spent $75 for those occasions. It was crazy.

    In most other jobs, $5-20 is expected, depending on the event, or at the really good employers the amount is left open.

    My take is that it should just be a line item in your budget. You know that there will likely be 1 occasion per month (or whatever it is in your office) and plan to spend it ahead of time. Then when it happens, its not unexpected. This is part of being on a team, and frankly if you don’t do it you are seen in a negative light by your co-workers. If you really can’t afford the amounts they expect, then you might talk to your supervisor or HR, and if that doesn’t work, you should probably think about finding a new job because there’s something wrong with the culture if they expect you to go broke on your teammates’ behalf.

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    • avatar

      csp June 24, 2014, 11:47 am

      Remember the Friends episode where ross wouldn’t chip in for the retirement party in his building and everyone hated him.

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  • avatar

    Stillrunning June 24, 2014, 10:53 am

    $5, $10, $20, it all adds up. We ended up banning gift contributions and parties for personal events at our office because people were getting annoyed at the constant appeals for money. We have staff parties in the office, like wine and cheese Friday, but birthdays, baby showers, etc. are held privately and offsite.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray June 24, 2014, 11:00 am

    I work in a small agency (just 15 of us) and anytime we go out for lunch or to celebrate or have a party for someone the company always pays for it. Even though I can afford to contribute to a fund every now and then (especially if it’s not something like $50, that’s ridiculous) the idea would rub me the wrong way.

    We do once a month breakfasts where each month one person is asked to bring bagels, coffee, muffins, etc for everyone but it’s only once a year for each person and it’s still optional. I wonder if there is a way you or others can suggest a different system. I mean what kind of party are you throwing each time if everyone is asked to put in $50?

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  • TheLadyE

    Elisse June 24, 2014, 11:24 am

    I work in a 100-ish person office environment and they fund a LOT of events for us without asking for contributions. Our team will get each other birthday gifts (a card and something small, asking for $5 for each person usually) and we all got our manager a Christmas gift where we put in $10 each, but that’s it. $50 is ridiculous.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark June 24, 2014, 11:30 am

    I’d be wary of the white lie Wendy suggests. Usually, I am all for white lies — but saying: “Thank you so much for including me, but I’m celebrating so-and-so’s [birthday/shower/promotion/retirement] a different way.” is just begging that some office busy body asks the guest of honor… “What did so and so do for you?” “Um, nothing…” “Oh REALLY? How strange! They said they had something planned already…”

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    • avatar

      AKchic June 24, 2014, 12:58 pm

      I have to agree with you on that. Gossipy co-workers, or even the curious, can really sink that white lie.

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  • avatar

    quixoticbeatnik June 24, 2014, 11:30 am

    For weddings and things like that at my small office, there will be a card that goes around that everyone will sign. There is a cake party once a month for all the birthdays in that month that the company pays for. So I don’t think that people give money here unless they are friends. I know one woman here who got married went out for lunch with a few people from the office to celebrate but that was more of a personal thing. I would chip in maybe a small amount but I feel like anything over $10 per person is a lot! I mean, depending on the amount of people you have, the amount of money will add up. It seems sort of ridiculous to ask for $50 unless it’s something you really want to do it something that was decided upon – like AP said.

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    • avatar

      quixoticbeatnik June 24, 2014, 11:35 am

      *or something that was decided upon.

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  • avatar

    quixoticbeatnik June 24, 2014, 11:32 am

    *that went out for lunch. Silly grammatical error.

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  • avatar

    Moe Pontiac June 24, 2014, 11:45 am

    Usually, people for a few dollars and, rather than standing over us waiting for it, many times people will give a deadline and say “bring it to my office if you wish.” This way, if I don’t want to contribute, I just won’t. I usually give $5 or so. It’s nice to celebrate people’s occasions. Other times I will bring food or knit a little baby hat or something. I have never felt that people assumed I HAD to donate. If it were $50, I would politely decline, saying I have “family obligations”.

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ June 24, 2014, 11:52 am

    Sort of related, but when I worked in an office, it always drove me nuts when all my co-workers expected us to buy things from their kids’ for their school and extra-cirricular activities fundraisers. The parents would bring the forms to work and basically hound everyone into buying something. Magazines, wrapping paper, cookie dough, fruit, Girl Scout cookies (okay, I don’t mind those!), useless coupon books, raffle ticket upon raffle ticket upon raffle ticket. It wasn’t like it cost a lot of money to do it, but it was all. the. time. Complete with daily e-mail reminders about the deadline to support Junior’s fundraising efforts. And, of course, if you buy from one person’s kid, you have to buy from them all. Drove me nuts after awhile.

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    • avatar

      Breezy AM June 24, 2014, 12:23 pm

      My youngest brother will be in 11th grade next year… a group he’s in had the kids (two years ago when he was in 9th) selling some random overpriced crap like that. My dad asked how much Lil’ Bro was expected to come up with and just wrote him a cheque for it because a) my parents find this stuff tacky and refuse to hound either their work, friends, or family and b) they don’t want my aspergery little brother running around door to door selling crap, and c) even if he wasn’t dealing with asperger’s they still wouldn’t want him doing it. The school had the unmitigated nerve to call my parents and complain **and refuse their cheque** because it wasn’t in “the spirit” of the lessons as they wanted to make the kids “work for something” and “manage funds and a business”. My parents threw a fit and went over the group sponsor’s heads, and got Lil’ Bro out of it. To this day my dad is convinced someone’s spouse at the school works for that crap company.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray June 24, 2014, 12:25 pm

      Oh I agree! And those things have become a lot pricier these days. I am constantly asked to buy $20 worth of coupons here and there – or raffles, lots of $20 raffles tickets to support their private school’s fundraisers.

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    • avatar

      BecBoo84 June 24, 2014, 12:29 pm

      We have that stuff all the time at my office as well, but I just don’t feel obligated to buy any of it. It’s all over priced crap. And, I certainly don’t bring in my kiddos’ stuff to cell (we take the donation route as well).

      A couple of years ago, before we had any kids who were school aged, we made the mistake of buying cookie dough (dough cost $18 and would make 36 rather small cookies) from a neighbor boy. He dropped it off after school when it was about 90 degrees out and just left it on our front porch. Needless to say, by the time we got home from work, it was totally ruined. I was pissed!

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    • avatar

      ktfran June 24, 2014, 12:44 pm

      Haha, I liked your Girl Scout cookies disclaimer. That’s the only thing I’ll buy from coworkers, but I don’t even do that anymore because my niece is in Girl Scouts. I have to keep it in the family, ya know!
      .
      It really is overpriced crap most of the time.

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  • avatar

    XanderT June 24, 2014, 12:39 pm

    If someone asked me for $50.00 for a workmate I would start laughing and walk away. I am being “Punked”, right?

    After many years of being exposed to this extortion on a corporate level now that I work in a smaller office, I just buy a birthday card, sign it & put in $10.00 in scratch off’s. Everyone gets the exact same thing. Wedding / bridal showers get $10.00 – that is my limit across the board.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph June 24, 2014, 12:48 pm

    This is tremendously inappropriate for your boss to have asked, and I would recommend you report it to his boss or to HR. It actually is inappropriate to ask for any amount of money from your employees, but I could see letting it slide if it was like $5.
    In my office when we do these things, people say “I have left an envelope in [x place] at my desk if you want to contribute.” Then nobody really knows if or how much you contribute, which is the way it should be.

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  • Moneypenny

    Moneypenny June 24, 2014, 12:53 pm

    My office is about 25 people, and we have a very relaxed policy on gifts. If someone is getting married/having a baby, someone will collect whatever you are open to giving, and usually put the total towards a gift card or something. I usually give about $5. Some people give $20. If a new person is starting, we usually will take them to lunch, and everyone who attends splits the bill (minus the new person- it’s our treat!). Sometimes the office will pay for it too. One guy brings his daughter’s Girl Scout cookie signup sheet. Another woman solicited for her husband’s AIDS Life Cycle fundraiser, but she made sure people got something in return- for instance she made (delicious) cupcakes. So no, I don’t feel like people are too pushy or obnoxious for money. Maybe if my office was larger? Luckily, I think we have a good system the way it is!

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  • avatar

    MsMisery June 24, 2014, 12:54 pm

    WHOA. $50 is a lot for anything at an office. Normally I’d say $5-10 is appropriate. I’ve been at my place for 13 years and have never been told a donation or an amount is mandatory. Only “Give what you can, if you can.” We don’t usually even collect money here for stuff other than flowers, in the event of a death. It’s much more common to have a food day in which people bring in food (and since I don’t cook, I just bring the veg tray). In other words LW, I don’t have advice for you other than you are right to feel uncomfortable.

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  • avatar

    Smalls June 24, 2014, 1:06 pm

    50$ is pretty steep. I’ve never been asked to contribute more than 20$. My office is about 150 people, and on our different teams, we do things for each other – birthdays, baby showers, bridal showers, etc. For birthdays, someone will usually pick up a cake and card and we’ll all pitch in a few bucks toward that. Baby showers are usually an email with some different ideas for gifts in a range of prices (e.g. the boba wrap would cost 10$ a person and the pack and play would be $20 – what would work for everyone?). There are always a few who say they’re doing something else for her, and that’s totally cool. Bridal showers tend to be after hours and invite-only, so it’s more on the speed of a shower with your close friends.

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  • avatar

    AKchic June 24, 2014, 1:08 pm

    I work in a non-profit, and we don’t do gifts normally. A retirement, sure… but it’s voluntary, and depending on how long the person has been there prior to retirement, the company will buy them a plaque or something. We always do a retirement party.

    We have monthly potlucks to celebrate birthdays. The last baby shower was incorporated into the monthly potluck (it was mine and my then-co-worker’s combined baby shower).

    I can’t see spending more than $20 on a work function. I’ve contributed $20 only once. When my favorite receptionist retired. Otherwise, if they are soliciting funds, I’ll chip in $5 if I can afford it.

    As far as school fundraisers go – nope. My kids don’t participate in them because I refuse to let them. Overpriced, cheap garbage, bad tasting chocolates, terrible cookie dough or baked items. The only thing I will consider buying is wrapping paper (I love wrapping paper), but usually I skip that too.
    I don’t buy any from other people’s kids either. No tupperware sales, no school fundraisers, none of that monogrammed storage bag crap. Luckily, I have the excuse of “4 kids” that people don’t ask me often, or if they do and I say no, they don’t question me.

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  • avatar

    Mclovin June 24, 2014, 1:17 pm

    Like AP, I’m asked a lot to buy cookies, car wash coupons, jerky, friendship bracelets – you name it and somebodys kid is seling it. And it’s usually the parents passing a form around the office with no explanation. If the parents want me to contribute then I expect to hear the story behind whatever the kids are selling, otherwise I ignore the email/sticky note/envelope.

    More on topic though, $50 is way too much for any office related occasion. I stick to the $10 limit for things that I know I won’t be involved in directly, but I have no problem buying a round of drinks if I’m at happy hour or dinner, etc.

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  • Kicia

    Kicia June 24, 2014, 1:38 pm

    I work for a federal agency so there are very strict rules regarding money for gifts and parties. There’s a strict limit of (I think) $30 to other coworkers and something like $20 towards a supervisor. We just had our annual ethics training last month and I’m pretty sure the example of what is not allowed for gifts and parties was actually a supervisor requiring the employees under him to pay $50 for a retirement party. Then again, I probably spent most of the training reading Dear Wendy, so I may have the details wrong.

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    Stillrunning June 24, 2014, 1:58 pm

    Gah, I’m being a meanie, but I just don’t understand having so many parties at work. My office if friendly and many of us are friends outside of work, but when I’m at my job, I want to get my work done, not be interrupted to attend yet another little party.
    Re fundraising: GS cookies yes always, coupon books accurately described as useless, no.

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    • Lyra

      Lyra June 24, 2014, 11:36 pm

      You’re not being mean at all, I agree with you! With my place of business, between the meetings and mandatory functions nothing seems to get done. And asking for money adds up SO FAST. I’m one who has been tightening up my finances in every possible way in order to pay down debt, so it’s kind of annoying when people are asking for money for parties/gifts constantly.

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  • sobriquet

    sobriquet June 24, 2014, 4:25 pm

    Whenever I was a girl scout, I worked my ass off to sell girl scout cookies. I got up early every Saturday morning and spent hours making the rounds and knocking on doors. I even hand-drew “thank you” notes to give to people. I sold a ton of cookies, but it was all for naught. The girl who ended up “selling” the most cookies (and winning the big prize) just let her dad pass her sheet around his office. I specifically remember how proud she was, too, and how much praise she got from our troop leader. It totally ruined it for me.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray June 24, 2014, 5:59 pm

      oh my goodness i felt the same!!!!!!!!!

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    Paper white June 24, 2014, 5:29 pm

    My co worker and I are Christmas babies so office birthdays smart a bit, knowing we will never be recipients of a birthday card or lunch ourselves.
    Our bosses assistant organises the birthdays and the honor based gift funds, so one year I suggested that the 2 Christmas birthdays should be celebrated in another month- she agreed but then left it up to me to organise my own gift envelope and lunch venue. I wasn’t comfortable with that so I gave up.

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  • Lyra

    Lyra June 24, 2014, 5:56 pm

    I can understand why people ask for money for these kind of things, but if I contribute at all I’ll put in like $5 max. I’m trying to get my own finances in order and save my own money, I don’t have unlimited money to contribute to gifts to people I work with, some who I barely know.
    .
    Last year we had two teachers retire from the school I was working at. One was awesome and had spent 25 years as the industrial tech teacher. He was always very welcoming to me and always answered questions if I had them. The other lady was the family and consumer science teacher and she acted like my friend but spread rumors about me behind my back. They had two envelopes we could voluntarily contribute to a gift card or whatever the secretary got for them. I put in $5 to the industrial tech teacher because I did want to contribute, but nothing to the FACS teacher. No one knew who contributed and who didn’t since we all put cash in and I have no regrets not giving anything to the FACS teacher who literally made my life miserable.

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  • avatar

    Lucy June 24, 2014, 6:22 pm

    $50 is crazy. I was never asked to contribute more that $20, even working in NYC on Wall St.

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    ecco June 24, 2014, 7:35 pm

    i agree with everyone that $50 sounds like way too much for an office gift! we collect money for gifts in my office too (group of about 30 people) and what we do is pass a folder around with a card and an envelope for money. we put a list of everyone’s name on the front of the folder to make sure they get a chance to sign, and if they want to donate money they just put some in the envelope. that way, they can contribute whatever they feel comfortable with, and no one knows who contributed/who didn’t, or how much. 🙂 i don’t know how large your office is, but maybe you could make a similar suggestion to your boss next time? it works really well for us!

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