Setting a Limit to Gift Donations at the Office

Dear Ms. Demeanor:

My officemates are going to bankrupt me. Every week, it seems there's another collection for so-and-so's wedding present, baby shower gift, going-away party ... it's hard enough to shell out the 20 bucks for someone I know, but a lot of times, I haven't the faintest idea of who the person is! Am I just being selfish, or is there a way to say, "I'm not giving at the office?"



Dear Ginger:

I'd say you're being prudent -- and probably voicing what several others are feeling. If it's possible to change the tradition, do so. You might simply tell others what you've told me and suggest an alternative: Perhaps there could be a five-dollar limit on gifts, or everyone contributes a dollar to send the person flowers from the group.

If you can't change the policy, then make up your own. You simply can say something like, "I've decided to curtail giving at the office from now on. It's just not an expense that I can successfully budget." Your tone of voice is key; say this without anger or emotion, in as matter-of-fact a tone as "The sky is blue." Then go the extra mile and send personal notes or cards to those people you know to commemorate the occasions.

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