Office gift ritual signals awkward, re-gifted gifts
If it's done with care, re-gifting can be savvy, expert says.
Since the Friday following Thanksgiving, Sue Allen McClain, of Bartlesville, has drunk her morning coffee from a mug bearing a Christmas mouse. She'll maintain the routine until Jan. 2, when she'll pack away the beloved cup for next year's Yule season.
It's been the same every year since 1987 — when McClain landed her beloved mouse mug in an office gift exchange.
Sometimes called a Dirty Santa, Secret Santa or White Elephant exchange, the holiday ritual — and workplace gift-giving in general — plays out this time of year in untold workplaces, where's there's sure to be plenty of unique gifts, if not awkward, unwanted or re-gifted ones.
The most unusual gift that Oklahoma City-based public relations professional Cyndy Hoenig ever received was four corn on the cob butterers from a famous actress she represented in L.A.
“I had to ask what the gift actually was!” she said.
Annette Oberhofer, of the FAA, once opened a beautifully wrapped box bearing a brick with several names on it. “I didn't get this, but it was funny,” Oberhofer said.
The next year, she got a box of half-eaten chocolates. “I got this one but, of course, couldn't get rid of it,” she said.
Jim Perry, managing editor of The Cushing Citizen, once received a salt shaker shaped like a Roman figurine with a few grains of salt still in it. “There was no accompanying pepper mill; just a salt shaker that I used proudly for a number of years!” Perry said.
Some 87 percent of people believe they, like Perry, have received a re-gifted item; 62 percent plan to re-gift this season; and 92 percent think re-gifting is acceptable, according to recent survey of the Bookoo.com yard sale community. The most commonly acceptable re-gifted items are home decor products, antiques and books.
As long as it's done with care, re-gifting can be a savvy way to save money, said Jackie Warrick, president of CouponCabin.com. “Make sure the gift is appropriate for the person you're giving it to, and all signs of its previous gift status, like cards and wrapping paper, are removed,” Warrick said.
Re-gifting may be the consequence of longer gift lists. Fifty-one percent of U.S. adults plan to buy gifts for people outside of their extended family and friends this year, up from 45 percent last year, Warrick said.
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