1. I’ve contributed to and organized a number of group gifts for friends in my church. We have a large network of friends and probably attend more bridal showers, weddings, and baby showers than the average person (except maybe teachers!). Lately I’ve opted out of group gifts and given a check directly if it’s someone I’m close to. I don’t know why I’ve done this. Maybe because the money seems like the most efficient way for the person to get what they really need. But for someone I’m less connected to I’ll gladly go in on the group gift. It’s especially nice when it buys a large item that one or two people couldn’t afford to gift on their own.

    • That’s really thoughtful of you! I agree. But I come from a family where cash gifts are the norm at weddings, baptisms, etc. I think the last group gift I went in at work actually bought the teacher a crib! That was really cool (and the perks of working in a big building with lots of generous people!)…and there’s no way I was going to give anything close to that on my own.

  2. That’s neat that your school has a fund set up already for helping people out. And goodness knows teachers need some help, especially in hard times!

    I’m admittedly stingy when it comes to group gifts. I actually don’t mind them, but my workplace is horrible about giving us ample notice. It’ll be someone’s baby shower and the day of they ask for cash donations. It really rubs me the wrong way, but I know people appreciate the sentiment. I prefer to give non-monetary gifts because giving money to coworkers makes me feel uncomfortable (I’m not close with my coworkers, either). I like to send food or baked goods instead.

    • That sounds like a good solution! Definitely do whatever makes you comfortable. We’re lucky to have a gifting committee that collects the money and shops from registries. That makes me feel like I’m getting them something they really want or need! 🙂 When it’s not an occasion with a registry, it’s definitely trickier.

  3. You have such a beautiful heart! Our work group doesn’t do anything. No birthday celebrations, showers, flowers, nothing. It’s every man/woman for him/herself. While people roll their eyes at the endless solicitations in some offices, at least it fosters community and helps you keep up on what’s going on in each others’ lives so you can support everyone.

    I will focus more on being generous when asked and even encouraging the asks.

    • I know there are plenty of people who don’t participate, and that’s totally fine. No judgment — at least not on my part. And the only reason I know they don’t participate is because they’ve said as much to me. Otherwise, who would know besides the organizer? And that varies from event to event!

      Plus, our school gets the most adorable baby spirit wear t-shirt for newest members of our school family! How could anyone say no to that! 🙂 Having been on the receiving end only in happy times, the support still meant SO much to me. I can only imagine it would be equally comforting in hard times.

  4. I can’t say I’ve ever been involved with a group gift, but I would never begrudge you for caring and having a heart. I think if we all strived to be a bit more like Penny, the world would be a better place.

  5. It’s funny seeing that not that many people do the “group gift” thing in the workplace. We certainly do at our school! We have an “open donation” (not required) of $20 at the beginning of the year for our “Sunshine Fund”. We have specific gifting rules that are set up for $ amounts depending on the situation. Smaller groups also tend to give group gifts for close colleagues. My donation to the Sunshine Fund bought a small gift for an admin colleague who had a baby. We also collected at the Admin level to give another gift. I agree with you – a few hundred dollars a year for my colleagues and their happiness (or sometimes sadness) is well worth the money spent. And yea, I agree with TJ – more “Pennies” would make the world a better place.

    • I am starting to understand that maybe this is why teaching feels like a second home, Vicki! And when I think about how much time I spend with my coworkers…and how much I learn and benefit from them, I’m happy to pay it back and pay it forward.

  6. Penny, you have such a giving heart and I really admire that! When I was in the working world, I gave to many, many group gifts. If it was someone I knew well, I was more than happy to contribute. If it was someone I couldn’t pick out of a lineup, I was a little less happy, but gave nonetheless. I’ll never forget one gentleman I worked with who was being promoted out of my location and was given a group gift. He said “I just hope what’s in this box allows me to break even for all the gifts I’ve contributed toward over the years.” LOL But seriously, giving with a glad heart is a gift in itself.

  7. Given some of the truly horrid individuals I’ve worked with in the past, I don’t contribute to all group gifts. I refuse to take even $1 out of a gift to someone who really needs it to give to someone who actively and gleefully tries to sabotage me professionally. But that’s more of a commentary on the terrible people have I known than a gifting policy.

    For people and causes I care about, always. If I’m not the one organizing a whiparound, then I’m finding a way to eke it out of the budget. It all goes fast so I do have to be careful about how much and how often I give, I tend to forget how quickly it adds up, but I make it work as well as I can. Half my giving is to documented charities, the other half is usually care packages of some kind.

    And though I could ill afford it at the time, I started giving group supplemented birthday gifts when I managed my own group at a company that was notoriously tightfisted and soon enough, the group took it upon themselves to run the whole celebratory gig. It brought a bit of good cheer into an otherwise dreary and stressful (see horrid people, above) place.

    • Oh yes, I think there’s definitely a line! It sounds like your coworkers didn’t cross it so much as cannonball past it. Gifting should be whatever makes people comfortable and content themselves. So no judgment if anyone passes for any reason. Who am I to guess this situation? I just do what I can probably more selfishly than anything. It makes me feel good!

      And you are one of the most charitable people I know. We could all take a page from your playbook!

  8. I haven’t had too many group gift opportunities lately, but I usually kick in a small amount when called upon (It’s mostly church related. If I have the cash on me, I kick in without qualms.)

    For teacher appreciation stuff, we usually pick up our own small gift rather than kick in for the group gift, and then get our daughter to make a card. The method for the group gifts (give the money to your 1st grader to give to another first grader, who’ll then give it to their mother) just seems a bit tenuous, especially after one of our donations got misplaced along the way last year.

    • Oooh, I had never heard of a group collection FOR a teacher by students. Hmm. That seems dicey. My favorite gifts are always notes from students. It’s really funny to read the ones where you can tell they scribed what their parents were saying. Ha!

  9. Yikes! I guess that’s one good thing about working in really small places … it’s a rarity for me. But man I hate those cash collections. Recently we were all expected to pitch in $3 (yes $3!!!) for a group gift. I literally wound up doing a bank transfer online because I NEVER EVER HAVE CASH.

  10. I work as a temp and have for many years now. I don’t give to these strangers. I’ve worked with some individuals for 2+ years and know nothing about them.

    I still give to folks I worked with at my favorite nonprofit job. And when the owners of the toy store I worked at for 8 months retired, 5 years after I no longer worked there, I took an 8 hour train ride to show up for them.

    For me, it depends on the person. I never feel compelled to gift. I only gift out of desire. (I love giving gifts, but only when I want)

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