General Question

babygalll's avatar

How should I handle this gift exchange situation?

Asked by babygalll (2753points) November 27th, 2011

So, every year I have a Christmas gift exchange party for my girlfriends. We all agreed that $20 would be a reasonable amount to spend on the gift. Everyone that comes knows each other, so we all have an idea of what each other likes. For the past few years there have been a few people that bring a really cheap gift. One accidently left the price on it was only a $5 gift. The person that ended up with it brought a really nice gift. I felt really bad. Everyone is going home with a $20 gift too.

My questions is: What is a nice way to word the invitation stating the gift needs to be $20 without offending anyone? It’s not like they are going home empty handed.

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20 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Are you the only one in the group that worries about this? If so, maybe the concern should just be let go. Maybe the price amount should be lowered from $20. Another thought…should the tradition be changed to something else? What about pooling money (everyone chips in what they want to) and adopt a local family in need.

Moegitto's avatar

You don’t have to re-word it per se, more like restate that $20 is a good amount to spend. Most times it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Try stating that $20 would be a reasonable number in a upbeat kinda happy tone. Most people get it the first time, but some people need to have it made necessary because they are unwilling and don’t want it to be known.

Aethelwine's avatar

We all have family we need to spend money on during the holidays. $20 can be a lot to spend on a friend on top of everyone else. Maybe you need to rethink this. True friends will understand.

Sorry, but you’ll offend those who can’t afford what you want. There’s no way around it.

babygalll's avatar

I’m not the one worried about it. I just like getting everyone together. It was brought to my attention after last years party. A few people were upset that they brought a $20 and ended up with something crappy. I can understand that money is tight around the holidays. I suggested $10—$15 and they all thought that was too low. Everyone agreed that $20 would be a fair amount, so I know it’s not a money issue.

Aethelwine's avatar

@babygalll If they all thought $10—$15 was too low, but you still had a few who brought crappy $5 gifts and some were upset, then yes, money is apparently an issue.

I’m not trying to be mean, it just really sucks when it’s expected of you to bring something you can’t afford.

babygalll's avatar

It sounds like you are taking this personally. I know for a fact that it’s a money issue, because the ones that brought the $5 gift are well to do. They are just being cheap and everyone at the party knows it. People aren’t forced to come or participate in the gift exchange if they don’t want to. If they bring a gift they participate in the game. If they can’t afford it they have the option not to come or just don’t participate. Nobody is being forced to spend money they don’t have. I would never make anyone do that!

Aethelwine's avatar

Then say “Please spend at least $20 so no one will be offended”. since you know for a fact

It sounds like you are taking this personally. I know that I’m not alone in this situation. Is that a problem? You asked for our help. I’m giving you a suggestion from someone who would give you a crappy $5 gift. Doesn’t it help to know why we do the things we do?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@babygalll Neither @jonsblond or I are taking this personally. We are onlly attempting to help you solve the problem. Your additional posts have provided more valuable information regarding the situation at hand.

What about getting the group together and saying something to the effect of, “We’ve been doing the $20 gift exchange for X years. What do you all think of doing something different this year?” Then let the conversation begin. Since you have no worries about it, let the ones with issues about the process work through it. If they all vote to keep it the same, and someone still gives a cheaper gift, so be it. It’s the giver’s reputation on the line. And if the receiver has an issue with it, they need to address the giver, not you. Otherwise, they need to just let go of it.

cazzie's avatar

If people aren’t contributing their fair share, put an end to it. It completely defeats the purpose of what you are tying to do when people get cheap and lose the spirit of the idea.

Ask everyone privately if they are willing to spend the money. If some of the group are unable or unwilling, change the tradition. Make it a ‘bring canned goods to donate to the community kitchen’ or some such thing. If the others don’t want it make it about giving to each other, perhaps everyone will feel better if you all give to those in real need.

KoleraHeliko's avatar

Why don’t you say the price should be from 15–20 or from 18–22 or something? That way there are clear guidelines of the approximate cost it should be. And if someone happens to occasionally find something awesome that happens to be slightly more or slightly less, so be it.

zensky's avatar

How about up to twenty?

Kayak8's avatar

You could skip the gift exchange as it seems to be taking energy away from the real purpose. Or you could switch to white elephant gifts (whatever you got in the basement that you want to wrap and give away)—these are often fun.

I have also seen people draw numbers (not names). The person with #1 takes the first selection from among wrapped gifts, Number 2 could take an unwrap a gift or steal from #1, number 3 could take a wrapped gift or steal from number 1 or 2 etc. This makes it much more even and it is luck of the draw.

dappled_leaves's avatar

If that many people don’t like the gifts they’re being given, maybe you should just not exchange gifts at all. It sounds like they’re missing the point.

marinelife's avatar

You should not state that the price paid must be $20. It does not allow for bargain hunters who could get a $20 value for less or who could get something worth more than $20 for $20.

You should not be so focused on the monetary value of the gifts anyway.

JLeslie's avatar

This is the thing about gifts, there is no guarantee you are going to get one as expensive or nice as what you picked for someone else. Tough luck. I don’t see how you can tell people they must spend a minimum amount. You can state “no joke gifts” I guess, because at low dollar amounts sometimes people pick out any old stupid thing.

Maybe make a game out of it instead, so it is not someone buying a specific gift for someone else. Everyone brings a wrapped gift for up to $20, and then numbers are put in a hat. Everyone picks a number. Number 1 grabs a wrapped, opens it. Number two decides to take the number 1 gift or grab a wrapped gift. If number 2 takes number ones gift, then number one grabs another wrapped gift and opens it. Number 3 can take any of the opened gifts, or choose another unwrapped gift, and so on.

So there is a lot of luck in the game, and a little strategy. When I have done it people have even brought regifts, so it does not cost anything, if people can’t afford it, and joke type gifts were ok. It’s just in fun then, and no one should feel badly.

saint's avatar

How about everybody just exchanges 20 dollar bills. Then nobody has anything to worry

JLeslie's avatar

@saint That idea sounds good to me.

judochop's avatar

$20 dollars at one point in my life was sort of like a quarter to me. I could have handed them out. $20 to me now is more like $100 probably, to most of you.
My point is that perhaps not everyone can afford $20. Just because you think you know someone and or think you are aware of their finances. You very well could be way off.

babygalll's avatar

@Kayak8 We do draw numbers and play it that way. I have also thought about everyone bringing a giftcard to their favorite place to shop/eat. (kind of like Oprah’s Favorite Things)

For all who have questioned the amount. I emailed everyone again and they all agreed that $20 should be the limit. So we will see what happens.

Thanks all!

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