Why? That's the only question I have. Why?
Now every office if different, and maybe the office exists that everyone really would like to buy a gift for everyone else that works there. I can only give you my take on it. And I'm going to.
Bubblehead's company is treating all of their upper management and their spouses to an overnight in an amazing lodge near here, complete with ice fishing, snow mobiling, dog sledding, high tea, spa treatment, etc, etc. The center of the trip will be the group dinner, where the president will (hopefully) hand out a lovely Christmas bonus, although from what I understand it will be a gift to his managers. That's nice, too, and quite frankly, I plan to just be happy with a lovely overnight away in a snowy Wyoming lodge. That has a spa. Did you get that bit? There's a spa there. (I can't tell you how I'm looking forward to this. I'm sure I will get there and decide to just live there.)
Now the other day Bubblehead sent me an email saying that they've decided to do a gift exchange, so every person needs to bring a gift valued at around $25. (Oh, and it's also going to be "Yankee exchange", which is a whole other rant, but I won't go there today.) So I have to go out and spend $50* on gifts for people we don't really know, and wouldn't otherwise buy a gift for.
Bubblehead makes fairly good money. We took a significant paycut to leave Denver and come home to live, and we knew that. It was worth it to us. We are also paying off debt. We made the decision several years ago that we needed to do something about it, and all of our spare money each month goes to paying it off. I'm not looking for sympathy on this point, because we got ourselves into that situation, and we are getting ourselves out. It isn't easy, but we're doing it.
So now I have to go out and buy $50 in gifts which will be impersonal (because we don't know who will get them). That is $50 I could have spent on my children, or quite frankly, my groceries this month. I will come home with a gift that is just as impersonal, and most likely something I don't want.
In my opinion, the gift exchange is for situations where there are so many people you'd like to buy a gift for, but it just isn't realistic, and therefore you draw names and exchange as a group. I think it's just stupid that an employer would tell all his managers that "this is what we're doing". Bubblehead doesn't see a tactful way out, and damn it I'm going to that lodge! So I will grit my teeth and do it, and consider $50 a bargin price for a night at this place.
I just hope Ella likes the overpriced picture frame, or Sanford's gift card, or binoculars I get from the evening, because if our budget is too stretched, she may find it under the tree with her name on it.**
*I guess I didn't explain: Bubblehead and I each have to bring a gift - hence the $50.
**I'm exagerating a bit - but only a bit.