Participating in Office Presents: If you can’t afford all the gift collections

by epi on June 5, 2012

Q: I work in an office where there’s always a reason for a gift — marriage, pregnancy, etc.  I’m a senior citizen with a chronic illness, and I have to work to support myself, which isn’t easy on my modest salary.  At first I attended everything and gave everyone a gift.  Then they started passing around an envelope with the amount they wanted us to give written on the front.  I like the girls, and they like me.  But I don’t want to drive all over creation to partake in for their get-togethers after work, or buy any gifts except for our annual holiday party.  Am I wrong?

A: How you go about doing things is just as important as what you do.  You’re not “wrong” for refusing to participate, but you want to make sure your co-workers understand your nonparticipation isn’t because you dislike them.  I’m a firm believer that people should decide ahead of time while “collections” and “get-togethers” they’ll participate in and which they won’t.  You’ve done that, and for very good reasons.  Now, I recommend talking with the ringleader(s) about your decision.  Tell them your situation outside of work precludes your attending their get-togethers of contributing to collections, but that you’re pleased they asked you and that you like working with them.  Then try to participate from time to time, to keep relations friendly and the lines of communication open.

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