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  1. #1
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    Office Chip In/Gift Etiquette Question

    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?

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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.
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  3. #3

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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!
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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.
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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.

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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.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by milanessa View Post
    Why an email? You're talking about 6 people here and only one that hasn't chipped in for a voluntary donation.
    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.
    A good rant is cathartic. Ranting is what keeps me sane. They always come from a different place. Take the prime minister, for example. Sometimes when I rant about him, I am angry; other times, I am just severely annoyed - it's an important distinction. - Rick Mercer

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    Quote Originally Posted by mag View Post
    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!
    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:-)
    DH - and that's just my opinion

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mag View Post
    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.
    As have I (well not with classes). Just sounds a bit draconian for such a small department but, whatever works. :shrug:
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    Quote Originally Posted by FiveRinger View Post
    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.
    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. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mag View Post
    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.
    Exactly. Whenever money is involved, it pays to be formal. Size of the office means nothing.

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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?

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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by orbitz View Post
    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.
    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. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan View Post
    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.
    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.
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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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mag View Post
    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.
    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.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan View Post
    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 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?
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  19. #19
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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.
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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?

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