The Lazy Gift Giver
December 18, 2012 12:48 PM   Subscribe

This is a question about giving gift cards at a work Christmas get together.

Tonight I am meeting my boss and three other co-workers (our department is small) at a restaurant for our annual Christmas get together. Last year we started to do a Secret Santa thing. We each bought one gift worth 25-30 dollars and passed it to our left. Last year I bought a gift box of luxury shampoo/conditioner/hair stuff. The person it was passed to loved it, and without being an ingrate, I would say it was one of the better gifts that night.

This year I bought a $25 dollar Amazon gift card, attached it to a beautifully wrapped bar of luxury soap and wrapped it in Christmas paper.

I am now second guessing myself and feel like the gift card thing is not fun or festive. I only bought it because 3 out of the 4 people there love to read and I thought that would be a good gift. Picking out a novel probably would have been more thoughtful but I didn't do that.

Would you give a gift card at a Secret Santa thing with co-workers? Is it the most boring thing ever? I have time to stop by someplace to give more imaginative gift. We are all women, ages 40-65. We are a pretty frugal bunch.
posted by Fairchild to Work & Money (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A gift card is a perfectly cromulent gift, and the fragrant soap is a nice touch.

I've found that the gifts people like the most are those that they find useful. If they personally don't want it, they can easily re-gift it.

Although I LOVE Amazon gift cards because they sell EVERYTHING!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:51 PM on December 18, 2012 [11 favorites]

At my previous workplace you may as well have called the Secret Santa event the Equivalent Value Gift Card Exchange because I shit you not, everyone got everyone else gift cards.

At least the Amazon ones you can spend on basically anything.
posted by griphus at 12:51 PM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

I *love* gift cards, especially to one-stop-got-it-all kinds of places. I'm a woman, but if you gave me "typical" "women's" gifts I'd be nonplussed (but polite). Gift cards are given and happily received at my work.
posted by rtha at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2012

Honestly, given that my office's culture is to give food and sweets I can never eat, an Amazon giftcard for any denomination would be the best thing ever. I don't care if people think gift cards are tacky -- they are damn awesome for me.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I love Amazon gift cards, I would rather get one than almost any other present.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:59 PM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

A gift card is a thing that lets someone choose the gift they want, rather than the gift you want them to have. I would much rather have a gift card than almost anything else.
posted by Solomon at 1:02 PM on December 18, 2012

I agree with everyone above that an Amazon gift card would be much preferred. I hate getting stuff that I won't use and I don't really re-gift very stuff just takes up space until I finally donate it to Goodwill. What a waste.

I wish I felt comfortable re-gifting but I don't. If I feel lukewarm about something, I don't typically want to give it to someone I like...and if I don't like them, I certainly don't want to give them a gift.
posted by victoriab at 1:08 PM on December 18, 2012

I think the giftcard is a much better present than trying to pick out a novel for someone, but if you want to make it feel more personal, then you could focus on the presentation: do something that says 'here's a giftcard for books!' so it conveys that you thought about it, without actually limiting the use of the card. Like a cardboard box shaped like a book with the gift card inside it, or similar.
posted by jacalata at 1:12 PM on December 18, 2012

I think you've done it exactly right by getting the gift card but attaching it to a modestly festive, lovely item. I think it's perfect.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:16 PM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

This situation was why gift cards where invented, my own Mom gave me a gift card this year and I didn't blink. Nice Soap is like the ur totally acceptable neutral gift.

Amazon gift cards are great because, as noted, they can used for almost anything.
posted by The Whelk at 1:19 PM on December 18, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I am glad to hear the gift card is a good and appropriate gift.

rtha, I know what you are saying about typical women's gifts. We are a pretty non-girly bunch -- athletes in the mix who wear no makeup, etc. -- but we are all into our hair. ha.

Thanks again for the answers.
posted by Fairchild at 1:22 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

A gift card plus a small consumable thing is a perfect gift: anyone can find something they like with the gift card, plus the soap gives the recipient an immediate nice-to-have thing and prevents the whole package from going into boring gift-card-exchange territory.

And if this is the sort of gift exchange where you don't know who your recipient will be (if I'm interpreting the pass-to-your-left rule correctly), then a gift card is especially good.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:22 PM on December 18, 2012

Response by poster: It went well, although the person (43 years-old) who received my gift did not know what was.
posted by Fairchild at 7:11 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by barnone at 8:01 PM on December 18, 2012

Response by poster: She lives on the planet Earth, too. I couldn't believe it.
posted by Fairchild at 12:19 PM on December 19, 2012

Well congrats, you just gave the easiest (legal) mind-blowing gift that $25 could buy.
posted by barnone at 9:30 AM on December 20, 2012

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