When we go to work, most of us aren’t doing it for free. No matter how much we enjoy our job, there could probably be any number of things we could otherwise do with our days if money wasn’t an object. We are there to make money!
If the workplace serves the purpose of providing us with income in exchange for our time and services, it stands to reason that we’re usually not expecting to spend money on work. Depending on where a person works, that might change up a bit around the holidays.
I’ve had to spend money on coworkers on a few occasions around the holidays. There were 2 places I’ve worked where this was the case. The first one was totally cool – it was understood that we would buy a modest gift of up to $25. This was a totally expected expense. Then, we would play a game to determine which gift each person got. The gifts were usually of the alcoholic variety – think wine bottles, whiskey, etc. This made for a spirited (haha) holiday party, even though we didn’t actually drink anything there.
Another time, there was a hastily organized holiday party that was given to the department. Apparently, a decision was authorized by someone at a higher level in the organization that the managers would foot the bill for the get-together, which was basically lunch and desserts for the whole group. It was positioned as a holiday “appreciation” party for the staff. Keep in mind that in my case, I was technically a manager but didn’t have any direct reports in that role.
After the party, I was approached with this bit of news (paraphrased): “oh, by the way, your share is $78”.
Each of the other managers had staff, but in my role I didn’t. Yet, I was expected to chip in. They were singled out and acknowledged as having organized the party, and given a verbal “thank you” in front of the broader department.
So, what do you do in this case?
I’m glad that we all had a decent time, but it was not fair that I should have to pay for this, given I didn’t have staff and didn’t get acknowledged for it. However, you just can’t whine about stuff like this at work. While I would have been justified, I knew that it would make a person in my position seem like some kind of scrooge by complaining in any way about a holiday party. One’s reputation in workplace is important.
So yes, I did contribute without saying anything about it.
But I still remember the experience. And now realize that sometimes, over the holidays, you just might have to spend some money at work whether or not you expect to or want to. If you budget, I suggest factoring in some kind of unexpected holiday expense for work-related gifts. Consider it a cost of doing business, and just have some fun with it.
My Questions for You
Have you ever spent money on coworkers over the holidays?
If so, is it all purely voluntary or equal? Or, has it been unexpected and/or unequal?