The holidays are coming up, and with them come the annual gift swaps that many workplaces practice, including mine. My problem is that I never know what to do when it comes to the price range. In order to be fair to all, my office puts a “$20 limit” on all gifts; but I am confused as to what this really means.
Does a $20 limit mean that people can spend less than $20? Does it mean that we should spend $20 before sales tax or including it? And most importantly, does it mean that the gift should be a $20 value? I was reading your column about the woman who always finds bargains, and realized that if I buy a gift on sale for 75% off, I can purchase a gift that is valued at $20 for only $5; which would save me a bundle but make me look cheap if anyone found out what I actually paid for it. On the other hand, using that same 75% off sale, I could also buy a gift that is valued at $80 for only $20; which would make my gift really stand out compared to everyone else’s, as well as give me bragging rights about the great deal I scored (should anyone be concenred that I went over the $20 limit).
What are your thoughts on the matter, Tazi-Kat?
Holly Day, Shopper
Dear H.D. Shopper:
It sounds to me like the office holiday gift swap is fraught with competition over who brings the best gift! Please remember that giving holiday gifts is about the spirit of sharing good tidings and joy and should not be turned into a popularity contest.
If a gift is on sale for 75% off just before the holidays (with the exception f Black Friday specials), do you really think that is a gift someone would truly want to receive? Gift items that are on clearance sale are generally there because they were leftovers from seasons past. Purchasing the latest Call of Duty game for $20 is a great score, and a gift most adults would love to receive; purchasing the once popular Furby for $20 is a gift that most adults would find pathetic and sad, regardless of the fact that they once sold for several hundred dollars and were considered by many to be destined to rise in value.
As for the definition of “$20 limit”, I would say it is a guideline that is set to avoid the spirit of competition that erupts over who gave/received the best gift; as well as an attempt to keep the gifts affordable and enjoyable for all, thus eliminating the need to even enter the realm of the 75%-off clearance bin.