10 Reasons to Get Excited About Your Office Gift Exchange

Business woman holding her hands up in excitement as she reacts to an unwrapped Christmas gift sitting in front of herNot really feeling your office gift exchange this year? You’re not alone. Whether it’s a general distaste for gift exchanges or the whiff of obligation that hangs over every “fun” workplace activity, lots of people drag their feet when this holiday tradition rolls around.

You can always find an excuse to skip the Christmas party. Or you can go through the motions, dutifully buying your gift while trying to conceal your resentment at having to participate. But a third option – one which I heartily endorse – is to think positive, focusing on all the ways a workplace gift exchange is actually worthwhile.

Easier said than done, right? Well, to help you get the scrooge out, here are 10 reasons I can think of to be pumped for this year’s office gift exchange.

1. Not all workplaces have one.

What’s worse than working for a company that has lots of “extracurricular” activities like Christmas parties and gift exchanges? Working for one that doesn’t. Throwing an office party around the holidays used to be standard, but these days, many companies are leaving it out of their budgets.

2. You might learn something new about your coworkers.

Who knew that Fred in Accounting had such a lowbrow sense of humor? Who would have guessed that Sally from Human Resources had such a competitive streak? You might be surprised at what a rowdy gift exchange can teach you about your coworkers.

3. You might find a new lunch buddy.

One of the things you might learn about a coworker is the fact that you actually like them! Okay, so you’re probably not going to walk away from the Christmas party with a new best friend. But you might break the ice enough to sit down to lunch with someone you’ve never really talked to before.

4. It’s only X dollars.

One source of resentment for a lot of people is cost. Some people just don’t like the idea of having to spend money to participate in a workplace activity. Well, assuming the price limit has been set appropriately, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Your company is probably spending a lot more money per person to host the party.

5. It’s only a short amount of time.

If you’re really having a hard time shrugging off that bad attitude, remind yourself that the gift exchange doesn’t last that long and you can always soldier through. Once you recognize that, you may actually start to lighten up about the whole thing.

6. It will get you in the Christmas spirit.

If you’re not feeling very jolly this year, taking part in a gift exchange could be just the thing to defrost your inner Kringle. With luck, that feeling will carry all the way through December, helping you get the most out of the holiday season.

7. It’s healthy, low-pressure competition.

I’m not going to suggest that a White Elephant or similar gift exchange game can help you work out all those interoffice rivalries and personality clashes. But it can take some of the edge off. When you’re competing for things like toilet mugs and giant Snickers bars, it puts workplace conflict in a different perspective.

8. You might actually get something you like.

Let’s not ignore the obvious. While you can’t count on it, there’s a chance you could walk away with a nice consolation prize for participating in the gift exchange. Of course, you should also prepare yourself to react appropriately if you wind up with a gag gift.

9. It’s only once a year.

This isn’t just true for the gift exchange, but for the holidays as a whole. It’s a busy time of year, and it’s natural to balk at the idea of squeezing in one more activity such as a workplace gift exchange. But as with every Christmas season, it will all be over in a blink – so try to enjoy it while it lasts.

10. It’s fun – seriously!

No matter how jaded you are about office gift exchanges, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to have fun in spite of yourself. It may take a few gag gifts getting opened, the infectious laughter of a coworker, or even a little eggnog, but it will happen. So you might as well let go of those scrooge-ish feelings now so they don’t put a damper on your holidays.

I hope some of these ideas help you get into a festive mood your office gift exchange. In any case, good luck and Happy Holidays!

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Roberta Jeeves is author of the book White Elephant Gift Exchange: Rules, Themes, and Ideas for Hosting a Perfect Holiday Gift Swap. You can buy or borrow it at Amazon.com.

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