Posted by: GeekHiker | December 7, 2007

The Spirit of Taking

(If you haven’t already commented on “Gone” below, please feel free to do so.  I’m particularly interested in people’s opinions on that one.)

I’m leaving in a bit to attend the office Holiday Party. I approach it with, for lack of a better description, bemused dread.

Heh, “bemused dread.” I like that.

Allow me to explain. A lot of offices do a gift exchange at their parties: everyone brings a gift, the gifts are exchanged, everyone goes home with a gift. Simple, fun, the giving and receiving of gifts in the holiday spirit, it’s all good.

My office has a twist.

At my office, everyone is required to bring an inexpensive gift, worth say around ten bucks. Management adds about the same number of gifts, also valued at about the same price.

All of these gifts are put on a large table at the front of the room, and then each person’s name is called and everyone goes up to get a gift. This happens two or three times until the table is empty.

Okay, so now everyone has 2-3 unopened gifts in front of them. With me so far?

Now it gets fun. Yeah, I mean “fun” in the most sarcastic sense of the word possible.

A member of management then walks around to each employee and has them roll a large pair of dice. If a particular combination comes up, the employee is allowed to go to any other employee and take all but one of their gifts.

Yes, take. All but one, mind you.

This goes on for two or three rounds, by which time some employees have managed to amass a dozen gifts, whereas some employees only have one.

Yes, that’s the spirit of Christmas! Try to get as many gifts as you can for yourself!

Kinda makes ya sick to your stomach, doesn’t it?

The first year I went, I scratched my head, unable to figure out why such a demented game would be played. Thankfully, I also got my answer that first year as well.

You see, that year a couple of arguments broke out. There were accusations of people hiding gifts under the table, people who were angry after the gifts were opened (everyone opens simultaneously at the end) because they didn’t get a particular one, etc.

“Wait,” you’re no doubt thinking, “why would people get so angry over losing out on a ten dollar gift?”

Well, you see, management also throws in a few ringers: moderately expensive gifts (such as a TV, DVD player, microwave, etc.) that are hidden amongst the cheap gifts. And if someone really wanted the DVD player, and someone else took (i.e. stole) it from them, well some people get a little miffed by that sort of thing.

And as these arguments went on, I looked over at the patriarch of the company, watching the arguing going on with a little smile on his face, and it clicked: these arguments were his entertainment.

Dance, monkey boy, dance!

So, while I do dread the nasty arguments that may ensue, I also have to say that I’m just bemused by the whole thing.

I sorta have to be, because deep down it sickens me a bit. The whole idea of the holiday is not supposed to be about thieving as many presents as you can from your co-workers. At least in my humble opinion.

Pretty fucking twisted, isn’t it?



  1. Yes, that is pretty twisted. Does take the spirit out of the holiday, doesn’t it? Where I work they don’t exchange gifts. There is a pretty strict gift giving policy (i.e. Don’t) to prevent the image of impropriety.

    In the 20 years I’ve worked there, I have never gone to the Christmas party. Mostly because – It’s formal attire, I don’t dance, and it’s not free. You would think with all the bake sales and fund raisers the party would be free.

  2. Sounds like a joy.

    I’d be offering my stuff up because I just don’t care enough to have it if someone is going to be all pissy pants about it.

    I guess they’ve all forgotten that’s it’s better to give than to receive (not that I don’t like to receive but, you know).

  3. I don’t think I have to comment. You know what I think. Hope the food and drinks are good!

  4. If you can see he humor in it and laugh at it, then your spirit of the season is still in tact.

  5. That hurts my head. I don’t understand Christmas gift openings that include the TAKING AWAY of a gift to give to someone else.

    I’ve played a game similar to this as a kid and will never get over the humiliation I felt when I took a kids gumball machine and he started weeping.


    How do you enjoy your gift after you’ve made a 11 year old boy cry?

  6. Is it an obligation to attend to it? I would certainly not like being the management’s puppet even for a so called office Holiday party.

  7. what about when you take the time and money to pick out a decent gift to bring and the next guy just brings in some regifted crap… let us know how the party actually went!

  8. Homer – I honestly wouldn’t mind so much if it weren’t for the “Game” which is just so anti-the-idea it makes me wanna puke.

    just a girl – after the opening, I’ve been known to give some of the gifts to others who wanted them more.

    dobegil – the food this year was better than in years past, and I hope this post didn’t make you queasy.

    lea – it’s all one can do, really.

    brandy – Sorry for the headache. The only way I would enjoy taking away a gift from a kid was if the kid was a spoiled brat to begin with.

    Gany – Yep. It’s organized by the CEO’s wife, and she’s deeply offended if you don’t attend, so you can imagine the consequences of that…

    charlotte – Will do an update this week

  9. I’ve seen various incarnations of this same type of gift-exchange.

    It doesn’t appear that it’s going to happen this year at work, though. Too many of the guys on my team are a bunch of pansies and don’t want to go through with it because they think they’re wasting their $10.

    Cheap skates.

  10. Now that I revisit these shenanigans… I think you should be watching episodes of The Office to see if they write this idea into the next Christmas episode. 😛

  11. Your company sort of wants to make employees suffer on Christmas… ew.

  12. Wow, you’re kidding, right? You mean management didn’t notice the disappointment and change the game so more people would enjoy it? It does sound twisted.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: