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If you work with a lot of people, virtually every week is a special occasion for someone between birthdays, going-away parties, weddings, etc. When your co-workers pool their money to buy someone a cake or a gift, do you feel obligated to chip in? Is there an appropriate amount to give? That's the subject of a recent letter I answered. https://www.thepennyhoarder.co...worker-wedding-gift/

The letter writer has a new colleague who's getting married. The office was taking a collection to buy her a wedding gift, but the letter writer barely knows her new co-worker. So she was wondering how much she should contribute.

Though office gifts are well-meaning, I'm really not a fan. People feel a lot of pressure to contribute, even though it's obviously voluntary. If you're having financial difficulty, you may not want to discuss it at work, so a lot of people will contribute just to avoid drawing attention to themselves, even if they can't afford it.

Do you feel pressure to chip in on gifts for co-workers? If you do contribute, how much do you normally contribute? If you don't, do you have any tips on gracefully declining?

Robin Hartill aka Dear Penny is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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Seen as I work for the U.S. Government, gift-giving or chipping in to help buy gifts is not allowed. Lots of rules when employed by the government one must follow to avoid being punished, from verbal talks all the way up to being fired, depending on how severe that matter is, along with watching your own back as there are many backstabbers, looking to get brownie points to get ahead. Geez, I can't wait until I retire.

I should have had a job working in the government, @Big Lew because that was one of the things I hated most about on-site working: all the forced togetherness, the incessant gift buying, the baby showers, the children's candy and cookie hold-ups, the wrapping paper, etc. The only things I didn't mind buying were the Girl Scout cookies or sympathy donations. I must have been a real joy to work with🙄.

I work in a relatively small office and we do gifts at special occasions- weddings, retirement, etc. Maybe once a year am I asked if I want to contribute. I often do, and the amount depends on how close I am to the person. I never felt any pressure at all- usually its an email that goes out and one person keeps the money so no one but that one organizer knows who gave what.

I personally don't, because I've been working remote since the pandemic started and there's not a lot of cause to gift co-worker gifts at my company.

And even if I was at the office, I probably wouldn't pitch in because of the following reasons:

1) It's not super genuine because I don't personally consider my co-workers my "friends" that I would gift them. I'd only gift them for political reasons and not because I actual consider them a friend. This would go against almost everything I believe in and as such I'd probably abstain from pitching in.

2) I'd much rather save that same money and buy my real friends a better gift.

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https://www.goodmoneygoodlife.com

Interesting responses! I too work in a small office. I feel that birthday's are special. I am the one in the office who sees to it we give a card. I usually give a small token of a gift ($10-$15/gift). I don't ask for donations.  I rarely have anyone contribute. I still give the gift and card. I don't know if my coworkers realize the gift is really from me or if they assume it's a group effort. I'm really considering this being my last year of gifts. I'm working on BS2. The extra money would go towards my signature loan. Once it is paid off, I'll be in BS3.

I used to work in an office where we were asked to contribute $2/month each month for birthdays (not required). Everything else was contribute what you want if you want - weddings, showers, retirements, etc.

I didn't mind $2/month. Other stuff, I didn't contribute if I didn't know the person and for those I did, I contributed what I thought was appropriate.

Another office I worked in asked for $5/month but that included everything from birthdays to retirements (not required).

I like the set dollar amount per month scenario because it wasn't required and everyone knew the gifts weren't going to be over the top and gift card amounts would be nominal because everyone's celebration came from the same kitty.

I always hated the gift thing. Poly anna was another thorn in my side. It wasn't I minded giving as much as someone always felt slighted .One person gets a hundred the next gets ten. Some people put a lot of thought and effort choosing a gift while others just didn't give a s**t and it showed! When I became the boss, I put a stop to it. The less hard feelings, the better the work place.

I worked in one office where every week they wanted money for something. I was paying down a credit card and it was annoying to be asked repeatedly for money for people 1) didn't really know or 2) didn't like. I would keep a few dollars on me, but if it was out, I was done.

I once heard someone decline like this: "I'd love to give, but unfortunately my money is already budgeted this month."

I never once benefited from their scheme (wedding, baby shower, etc.). To me, I'm at work to earn money not to earn money to fund their lives.

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