This year I had the pleasure of attending a new Holiday/Christmas party for work. It is a relatively new job, so this was my first party with them. It’s hard to know what to expect when you’re the new employee. What do you wear? Where do you sit?

What stuck out to me this year, more than the above, was the topic of set budgets for gift exchanges.

If any of you have ever participated in a gift exchange at work or in an organization, you are probably nodding your heads right now. Each exchange might be set up a little different, but the gist is still the same.

For the one I participated in this year, we drew a name from a hat and then bought a gift for the lucky person. Each person put ideas of what they would like to receive, and then at the annual meeting, the gifts were exchanged.

Sounds great right?

It was great, except for one minor thing….no one stuck to the same budget! The official budget was $10. I bought my person something they wanted from their list. It was normally $12.50, but I got it a little cheaper since it’s on sale. I thought, this is great! I could give a little more without going over budget.

This is the lotion I ended up getting her, not to mention it is my all time favorite smell from Bath & Body Works! (affiiliate link)


After the meeting, people conversed about what they received. A gal that was sitting next to me got a $15 gift card and a bottle of wine. More than double the budget! Now I was starting to feel bad that I DID stick to the budget!

If you have ever been in this boat, here are a few things to consider.

Consider if you can get it on sale

Sales are a great opportunity to get more item for less. You can still stick to the budget, but your gift will blend in well if other people went over budget. My sale item didn’t go very far, since the budget was $10 and my gift retailed at $12.50, but it was a step in the right direction!

Learn from the past

If you are at a new company, then this one can be trickier. You will need to talk with other coworkers who can fill you in on what is common. They can also clue you in one what they are buying for the exchange gift.

If you have been there for years past, you can think back about what was done to get insight. I now know that going over budget a little might be the best option! Keep in mind though that things change over the years as employees come and go.

Let it go

I bet you have the Frozen song stuck in your head now, don’t you? 🙂

As strange as this sounds, if you did everything right, then let it go. You stuck to the budget and that is the reason there is a budget anyway! Chances are, people won’t even remember what was given by others or that your gift wasn’t the highest price gift. Unless, of course, you went the extra cheap route and bought them a pack of gum. Then you might be catching some crap for that for months to come…

Now take a deap breath, put your credit card back in your wallet, and enjoy this season of gift giving! After all, the joy is supposed to come from giving gifts to others.