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Employee asks if she's wrong to force 'selfish' coworker to do office Secret Santa.

Employee asks if she's wrong to force 'selfish' coworker to do office Secret Santa.


Is the magic and whimsical joy of the holiday spirit tainted when you're forced to participate in an activity that you've actively been complaining about around the workplace?

While some employees love to figure out what the coworker they've only ever had two conversations with would enjoy as a gift for under $20, others find that holiday games only add more stress to an already expensive season. Of course, nobody likes a whiny Grinch around the office and if you don't want to go along for the 'White Elephant' journey, you should be able to quietly bail.

So, when a conflicted employee decided to consult the moral compass of the internet otherwise known as Reddit's 'Am I the As*hole' about whether or not she's wrong to force her Grinch coworker into the holiday spirit, internet strangers everywhere were eager to help deem a verdict.

AITA (Am I the As*hole) for Including my coworker in Secret Santa when she clearly does not want to be in it?

My work has 7 female employees including the 2 bosses. Needless to say we are all very close and interact with each other on the daily, even hang out outside of work. My, f26, coworker, f45, had a bad experience with last year's secret Santa. We had it split into 3 weeks for the last three weeks of December. Week 1- trinket, week 2 - trinket, week 3- final gift, exchange and staff dinner.

Her first two gifts came the following week, which ruined her experience of looking for her gift and waiting for it to appear in the designated week, and she also felt that her final gift was below budget and not thought out (a wallet). As everyone was having their own experience, admittedly we didn’t notice how bad hers was.

This year October we selected the names for secret Santa. This is when she told everyone about her experience and how terrible it was, mentioning it multiple times to different people and saying that she does not want to be involved this year.

In charge, I still put her name in the generator, me and one of the bosses hoping to persuade her as we made a rule in the generator her and her past Santa would not get each other. It did not work.

Instead I asked her to show me who she got, and decided to get the gifts for both her and my original person, without telling her Santa that she was not participating. This was done so that she could still receive a gift, without having to put in the effort.

Late November, after people started buying gifts she made a comment stating that not only does she not want to be a part of it but if she gets a gift she will leave it there at work. There is NO WAY that she would not receive a gift. Either I would have 3 secret Santas, or the bosses would still get her a gift.

It would be terrible for the next 3 weeks for all to be excited about a surprise gift knowing she’s not involved or receiving. Her past Santa would feel guilty and not be able to enjoy the festivities. We would feel awkward brandishing gifts with her right there.

The final brunch would be weird after we closed work to exchange the last gifts. I understand her stance, but I feel that we should at least be able to make it up to her- stress free on her end, so that everyone can enjoy the festivities.

My thoughts have even gone as far as thinking she is selfish because she knows how small work is and how it will impact the holiday season. Just accepting the gifts graciously is fine because we are only doing it to make her feel included, and to make up for last year! We aren’t forcing her to buy anyone a gift.

As her gym partner, and someone who hangs out with her outside of work- I could never receive a gift and be excited to talk to her about it knowing she can’t enjoy it as well- and she’d have 2 bad Christmases at work. But maybe I’m being selfish? Am I the a*shole for ignoring her wishes and including her anyway?

Why are adults getting this salty over two trinkets and a gift card? If she doesn't want to participate in the forced merriment of the season then she shouldn't have to, regardless of what her 'gym partner' says...

Clearly if she opted out of the entire game then she knows she wouldn't be receiving a gift either. Of course, the jury of internet strangers was eager to weigh in on this one. Here's what people had to say:

GeoffDeGeoff said:

YTA (You're the As*hole). Enforced fun is not fun. If she doesn’t want to take part you should have left her out.

Saravat said:

YTA. This sort of work environment is awful. 'You WILL do this. What you want doesn't matter. We know best and you WILL enjoy this. You'll thank us later, trust me.' The person being selfish here is you. You don't seem to be capable of enjoying the holiday unless everyone does it your way.

There are countless ways you can include her and let her know she's appreciated without being so controlling and intrusive, and without forcing her to participate in something that she clearly stated she does not want to be a part of. There are countless ways you could plan low-key, inclusive activities without putting everyone on the spot like this.

These forced workplace events aren't the morale boost a lot of people like to believe they are. Some folks have budget struggles and are too embarrassed to say they'd prefer not to participate. Some folks may be grieving or have personal or family issues that mean they'd prefer not to participate, but they do it because it's easier than having to explain themselves. Some people just don't like doing this sort of thing.

If it's that important to you just bake a few dozen cookies and distribute them along with a card to everyone, and do it with no expectation of others doing anything in return. Do it because you appreciate your colleagues. That's what Christmas is about.

RustyClawHammer said:

I effing hate secret santa BS so much. Xmas is enough stress getting gifts for family without adding work BS to it. YTA

EggsAndMilquetoast said:

YTA. Secret Santa sucks because people often say it’s voluntary, and then there still ends up being situations like this, where you’re still either voluntold or bullied into it. It’s just being harassed into spending MORE money at a time of year when money is already tight and inflation is killing everyone, all so that you can buy someone you barely know or may not even like something they probably don’t even want.

cr0wj4ne said:

God, yes! The holiday season is stressful enough with buying gifts for people I'm actually close to. Having to add in coworkers would be a nightmare, even if they all think it's fun and are trying to be inclusive and nice. It's too much!

So, there you have it!

Everyone agreed unanimously here that this woman is hilariously wrong to force her coworker to participate, even if she's letting her off the hook to buy gifts. Receiving a gift without purchasing one is somehow even more awkward than completely bailing on the entire cursed exercise. Good luck, everyone...this is surely going to be one awkward 2 PM conference room party.

Sources: Reddit
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