Office Chip In/Gift Etiquette Question

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Bryan, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. Bryan

    Bryan New Member

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    A co-worker of mine is getting married this week, and another co-worker sent out an email to our department asking if anyone was interested in chipping in to get a larger group gift. Everyone expressed interest, including one individual who did so verbally (but did not commit in writing). I'm in charge of collecting contributions and purchasing the gift, but after asking this particular individual for a reply today (even if it is to decline), still no response. I need to know what our budget is so I can buy an appropriate gift. So I will just assume that he will not contribute, which is fine.

    What I'm wondering is, do I need to put his name on the gift? I am ordering it online and need to ship it soon. Our department is rather small (6 other people besides the one getting married, and 5 of us have committed to chipping in), so it would be obvious if I omitted his name. I am also getting a card to pass around for the team to sign. I figure I won't be petty and will let this person sign the card to express his good wishes to our colleague.

    So would this be okay? Have everyone sign the card, and omit the one person's name on the gift message box on the packing slip?
  2. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    That's what I'd do although I'd probably give it one more shot. Probably say something like - "I'm ordering this now so do you want to be a part of the group gift or maybe you're doing something on your own?" Gives them a bit of an out if they spoke up too soon.
  3. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

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    I would be very clear and send an email to everyone saying,

    "I'm ordering the gift at 2:00pm today and will be putting the names of the contributors on the gift enclosure. If anyone hasn't contributed, please get your money to me by 1:30pm. Thanks!"

    If you send it to everyone then it is very clear that if this person wants to be included they need to anti up. I spent years in HR and I was always in charge of group gifts. After a while you get quite brutal about it ... in my experience it is always the same people who "forget" to pay but want to be included on the card. Drives me nuts!
  4. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    Why an email? You're talking about 6 people here and only one that hasn't chipped in for a voluntary donation.
  5. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

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    Speaking from experience, only buy a present and a card with money you've been given, not with your own money anticipating money you MAY be given. That way you won't be out pocket, and the people who have contributed can sign the card as well.
  6. FiveRinger

    FiveRinger Well-Known Member

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    I agree with EOS and buying with money you already have.....

    Are you going to present the card and the gift together? If so, I would go ahead and order whatever it is you're going to get (with current available funds) and this would allow time for the straggler to get it together and pay his contribution before you actually present the gift. I would try to give a little more time. Do we know if the person didn't get the email (not at work today) or maybe having a cash flow problem? Intentions might have been good.

    If the straggler doesn't participate, I, for one, wouldn't want to give a card to someone in the department that everyone except for one person didn't sign, especially in a small office. I would purchase the card and sign on behalf of the department. That way no one is embarrassed or uncomfortable for one person not participating.
  7. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

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    Because I have found that the person who doesn't contribute spends the next six month complaining about how they were left out, not invited, not told the deadline etc etc. I don't know how close this office is, but Bryan has asked for a response and the individual hasn't bothered to respond. That alone sends up alarm bells. Now maybe this person has just been distracted and an email with a deadline will jolt him or her into action. Maybe not. Like I said, having done dozens of these over the year in big and small offices, with classes at school, with volunteer organizations, I have found it is always best to cover all the bases. It just saves hurt feelings later on.
  8. AxelAnnie

    AxelAnnie Well-Known Member

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    Great plan. And I would agree he\she who shows you cash before the order participates. I am always in charge of the barn gifts for the trainers and the guys. And I am always amazed at the people who say they will pay and never do. I usually build in a cushion,,,,,and there are a couple of us who don,t mind putting in a little extra. One year we got our horse trainer a lovely pair of diamond earings. Everyone contributed...:)of course we had Julie who is a cop collect the money LOL:)
  9. milanessa

    milanessa engaged to dupa

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    As have I (well not with classes). Just sounds a bit draconian for such a small department but, whatever works. :shrug:
  10. Bryan

    Bryan New Member

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    Problem is, the wedding is on Friday, and it's already Monday night! This group is very unorganized and I took it upon myself to get things started; otherwise, nothing would ever get accomplished.

    Yes, the thought of only purchasing the gift with money I received crossed my mind; however, only one person has actually given me money and it is obviously not enough. The gift is one big ticket item--a set of stainless steel cookware. I plan on printing out a picture of the item from the registry and enclosing it in the card (as the item may not arrive by the day of the event). Even though everyone is disorganized, I trust that those who committed to chipping in will keep their word (I know, famous last words...).

    I know that this person has received the email, as he has come by my desk to discuss it, but he still would not say if he was participating and how much he would give. I don't want to put him on the spot and make him feel obligated, so I will take his silence as a sign that he is declining.

    No one knows that this person did not contribute, or what any other person is contributing for that matter. I just told everyone to let me know the amount they were comfortable contributing and sent an update saying, "Thanks to everyone for their generosity. We have a budget of X, so it looks like we can get the stainless steel cookware." Actually, we don't have quite enough (to pay for tax and shipping), but the head of our department volunteered to cover any overage.

    So, I guess we are good, but I keep going back and forth on whether to put the straggler's name on the card/gift enclosure.
  11. genegri

    genegri Active Member

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    Exactly. Whenever money is involved, it pays to be formal. Size of the office means nothing.
  12. Cupid

    Cupid New Member

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    Years ago (30), I started working in a mid-size office. On my first or second week, i was approached and asked to contribute $10 towards a wedding shower gift (a set of "pans) for one of the employees whom I really hadn't even spoken with since I started working there.

    I said I couldn't afford $10 but I would be willing to contribute $5. She said fine, took the money, and never said a word. The gift was given, I wasn't invited to the little get together when she was presented with the gift, and I wasn't asked to sign any card, although I understood there was one and everyone that chipped in the $10 got a thank you note.

    I don't know how much you are asking for per employee, but 30 years ago, $10 was quite a bit, especially for a new employee earning meager wages, and then not to be included on the card. Maybe people feel put out by asking for so much?
  13. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    You keep the card at your desk and then ask/email people to stop by your desk to donate and sign the card by a specific date. Send out reminder as the date nears. Those who want/can donate and sign will stop by; Those who don't or can't won't, and that's that.
  14. Civic

    Civic New Member

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    This is how we handled it at the library where I worked. The person in charge of getting the card kept it in his/her office and it was everyone's responsiblity to drop by and sign it before the deadline (which was publicized via email). Ditto with donating money for a gift. Btw, I personally wouldn't require that people contribute for the gift in order to sign the greeting card. It is possible for someone to be happy for their colleague and wish them well but not have the money to chip in for a gift. JHMO.
  15. MacMadame

    MacMadame Internet Beyotch

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    I think it's pretty clear he's declining and you'd be wise to keep him out of it. It would be different if he hadn't contacted you but to come talk to you and not commit is a passive-aggressive way of saying "No."

    As for having him sign the card anyway, I wouldn't do that. When I got married, different groups at work got together for joint gifts and only the people involved in the joint gift signed the card for that gift. If the card is presented with the gift, the implication is that all these people contributed to the gift.

    This is different than if the group gets together to give someone a party (say for a birthday) and a card is passed around for everyone to sign. A card that is attached to a gift isn't a general "good wishes" card, it's the card that says who is giving the gift.
  16. Pierre

    Pierre New Member

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    Since you indicated there is an actual gift tag as well that will have names on it, I would let him sign the separate card. I hope the people who promised money but haven't given it yet follow through. Some people seem to become awful forgetful when it comes to money promised for gifts.
  17. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

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    Completely agree. Especially since the person had verbally agreed; he'll work both sides of the fence by claiming "I said I wanted to contribute but they didn't come wrench the money from my hands, no fair!" For that reason I'd give him one more chance with a deadline, as mag suggested.
  18. overedge

    overedge Well-Known Member

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    I think you have a bigger problem than the one non-signer. What backup do you or your credit card have if no one else ponies up the $$$ they promised?
  19. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    at my work, anytime a gift for a life event happens, whoever organizes sends out emails saying "anyone who wants to donate, give the cash by X date". A reminder is sent the day before and sometimes even the day of the deadline. Gift is selected based on cash in hand - no pledges. Organizer emails the rest of staff to say what was purchased. Card is curculated to the whole staff to sign, and the gift is from The Staff, not naming names on who gave and who didn't.

    This works extremely well, I have never heard of any hurt feelings. Anyone who misses the deadline - it's on them, and they're welcome to get a personal gift if they feel that strongly about it.
  20. Cupid

    Cupid New Member

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    I have to ask whose decision it was to purchase the "big ticket" stainless steel cookware set? That could run over a couple hundred dollars divided by 6 people that's a considerable amount of money. People sometimes have other financial obligations and might resent having to pony up all that money for a gift.

    Shouldn't the money people contributed be in whatever they could afford and then decide on what to give, or at least asked everyone what they felt was an appropriate amount of money per person?
    mmscfdcsu and (deleted member) like this.
  21. skaternum

    skaternum Grooving!

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    This is why I hate mixing work teams with social functions. It's always ugly. If you're friends with someone outside the office, as an individual, you & other friends can get together to give a gift. But attaching it to a work team is just baaaaaad.
    Matryeshka and (deleted member) like this.
  22. Bryan

    Bryan New Member

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    Yes, that's exactly what happened. I did not ask anyone for specific amounts. I asked everyone to let me know what they felt comfortable giving, and everyone pledged generous amounts. It just happened to be the exact price of the stainless steel cookware (except tax and shipping). The head of the department offered to cover the difference of tax and shipping.

    I have to buy the gift tomorrow and have less than half of the actual money in my hands. Looks like our colleague may get dinner plates instead. :lol:
  23. shan

    shan Well-Known Member

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    Well dern, I would think your 5 bucks would be worth something!
  24. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

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    In my office, they either pass the envelope to collect money and the card to sign, or someone keeps it at their desk, and sends out an email inviting people to come by and donate or sign by a specified time. At the specified time, they count up whatever cash they have and give the person a gift certificate (usually Amazon that can have free shipping on a lot of items) in the amount received (rounded up or down to the nearest $5). That way nobody is on the line if people promise to donate and then don't (or they don't have to spend time tracking people down)
  25. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

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    I couldn't agree more and am beyond grateful we don't do this crap in my office. :slinkaway
  26. Angelskates

    Angelskates Active Member

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    I much prefer this, because it means no awkwardness if some people want to give less. The envelope is kind of like church tithe - amount is anonymous, the a gift is bought based on the end amount.
  27. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

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    This makes sense to me, although it also seems a bit awkward in that pressure is put on people to donate, when they may not be able to afford.

    And if you don't include those who don't donate on the card, might it not look odd to the recipient of the card?

    I work on my own so have no experience with such situations. But it strikes me a quite awkward.
  28. antmanb

    antmanb Well-Known Member

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    At my place there is no awkward moment as the card is passed in plain envelope oor folder, a brown envelope with a telephone list stapled to the front is added and you cross your name off when you have had the envelope. No rules are given so in theory anyone can sign the card and contribute nothing, contribute any amount you like (no-one will ever know what you did or didn't put into the envelope) and you cross your name off just so that everyone knows if someone has not been made aware of the collection etc. I've been in my current job just over 16 months and still do not know many people on the floor below or the other building. If I am passed a collection for someone I don't know I ask the peron handing me who they are, if it doesn't ring a bell I cross my name off the list and neither sign nor donate. No-one's ever commented on my doing that.
  29. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

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    But why would you sign a card that goes with a gift you didn't help to purchase? If everyone did that there wouldn't be a gift to give. If the card is going with the gift then by signing the card you are telling the receiver the gift if partly from you - when, in fact, it is not. That strikes me a particularly odd and, quite frankly, dishonest. If you don't want to contribute then don't. If you want to give a card, then buy or make one yourself, but don't pretend you were involved in purchasing a gift when you weren't. (Oh, by "you" I don't specifically mean you, Japanfan :) )
  30. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

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    the card should be from the office - and so should the gift, regardless of who pays. otherwise, the people who want to give a personal gift should do so on their own, and not use any staff time or resources to solicit for or talk about the gift.

    I have personal friends at work. I give them gifts for birthday etc and if they were getting married/giving birth/whatever while we were coworkers I'd give them a personal gift. I wouldn't try to get other coworkers to chip in, I wouldn't talk about it at work and I wouldn't give the gift at work. It would be based on my personal relationship with a friend who happens to be a coworker. I would, however sign any card being circulated at work because it's expressly from the office.

    People getting bunged up about everyone's name going on a card regardless of who chipped in $$ is a good argument for banning gift solicitations at work.
  31. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

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    I guess it depends how you look at it. I have bought gifts from the office and in those cases it was the company that paid for them. Everyone signed the card. Group gifts, in my experience, are usually organized during break time and more often than not do not include everyone. As far as I know, no one is forcing people to contribute or barring them from contributing. People can choose as they please, but, like I said, if no one chips in any money there would be no gift. I just think it is odd to want to sign for a gift that isn't from you YMMV.
  32. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

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    Right, but if five of six people chip in for a gift, then the sixth person looks like a jerk if he doesn't chip in, and it'll be obvious from the greeting card that one person is the "cheapskate" hold-out. So there is social pressure to do it.
  33. Garden Kitty

    Garden Kitty Tranquillo

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    That's how we do it too. Or if it's left on the desk, there are plenty of times when the person is away from the desk so if you want to just sign or donate a very small amount, you can do it without anyone seeing it. Ours is a pretty big group and there is always enough money for a decent gift (nobody except the person organizing it knows the final total) but anyone who wants to sign the card can.

    If it were a smaller group organizing a more personal gift, then I do think I'd limit signing the card to just those who donated. or have one small gift card with the names, and another larger card for everyone to sign.
  34. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

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    As far as I know, there is no minimum donation required. I find it hard to believe that someone who is employed can't spare $2.00 for a gift. If they really don't want to give a gift, that is fine, but then why would they want to sign the card? It reminds me of a fund raiser we ran at dd's school. Parents were asked to donate. Every time a family donated, the family's name was put on a card and added to the ladder. The theme was climbing to the top of the mountain and we were filling the ladder with names. I had a parent complain, while standing with a Starbucks latte in hand, that it wasn't fair because they couldn't afford to contribute. My response was that there was no minimum donation required. Give me a loonie and up goes your name. The amounts given were only known by two people and it was all kept strictly confidential. In fact, parents were even allowed to hand in an unmarked envelope so no one knew the amount of the donation. If they really couldn't afford to donate, the principal had the authority to add names without a donation and the committee was not advised so only the principal knew (kind of like when parents can't afford to pay for field trips and parents can go to the principal and it is all kept confidential.) It was our most successful fundraiser because people actually took an interest and donated rather than assuming someone else would do it.

    Now there will always be extreme situations and I think you need to use compassion. If there is someone in the office who really seriously can afford even a dollar, then yes, they should just sign the card. But seriously, how many situation like that are there really? In my experience, often the person is a "cheapskate" and just can't be bothered to donate because he or she knows everyone else will. It is kind of like the person who doesn't include a tip (or sometimes even the full amount of their dinner) in their portion of a group dinner bill because they know no one will know it was them and someone else will make up the difference, or leaves the bar just before it is their turn to buy a round of drinks, or never offers to pick up the coffee etc.

    I'm really not an unsympathetic person. I just get very tired of people who don't do their part and expect expect everyone else to cover for them.
    And FWIW, I received a number of group gifts when I got married, and it never occurred to me to double check all the names on the card to see who wasn't there ....
  35. antmanb

    antmanb Well-Known Member

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    Equally i find it hard to believe that other people feel entitled to determine what other people can give as a gift when they don't know what a person gets paid or what financial commitments they have :confused:
  36. KatieC

    KatieC Still jet lagged

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    My office does the envelop pass around too. What I like is that if I have only a ten dollar bill and want to put in two dollars, I can make change from the envelope. I pretty much go with two dollars if I don't know, or don't like the person, to ten dollars if I do. Sometimes it also depends on how flush I'm feeling at the time. And it's also an office where I don't actually like a lot of the people.
  37. cruisin

    cruisin Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you, but in such a small group, I would just ask them verbally. It saves time and it insures that they got the message, understand the time frame, and they can't procrastinate.

    I would not include the person who did not contribute. That is not fair to the ones who did. It could also backfire if they do send a gift on their own.
  38. mag

    mag Well-Known Member

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    I in no way feel entitled to determine what other people can or should give. They can make that decision on their own. I am simply pointing out that they do have a CHOICE, and that choice (like all choices) has consequences. If they chip in, they sign the card. If they choose not to chip in, they don't. What about the person who decides they would like to chip in, but it is a stretch for them. What if they choose to do without something else because giving the gift is important. How is it fair to them that potentially everyone else just signs the card because they have chosen not to donate. I'm sorry, but we are not talking about children here. These are adults who are perfectly capable of making decisions and should take responsibility for their choices. There are always, except in the most extreme circumstances, choices people can make.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2011