WWYD: Chipping in for the Boss

In this installment of “What Would You Do?,” coworkers chip in to buy their boss a gift.

I just started a new job in September in an office with six employees and one boss (part of a larger institution). One other woman is my age (early twenties) and started in the spring; the rest have been here for years and years. I’m certainly at the bottom of the rung, income-wise.

Apparently we all chip in to give our boss a Christmas present every year. (I’m hoping we get a bonus, but I don’t know yet.) Everyone else, that I know of, is contributing $100. This is A LOT! I spend about $30 on gifts for family members, and about $50 for my boyfriend!

By the way, my boss probably makes upwards of $1 million a year, which is a big part of why I feel strange making a sacrifice for something that will feel like pocket change to him. He’s also a misogynist (whole ‘nother post). If it makes any difference, my boss buys us lunch (to ensure that we work at our desks), which is pretty sweet.

So: Do I have to contribute $100 as well? I’ll still be able to eat, but will have to cut back on gifts for the people I actually care about and/or doing fun things on the weekends. Is $50 okay? That’s what I’m thinking/hoping. Does anyone think I can get away with (in terms of not pissing off my coworkers and leading to potential gossip with my boss) any less? — E.

When I was in grad school, I was in charge of getting a gift for one of our beloved professors. I ended up choosing a sterling silver necklace from Tiffany’s for $150, and since there were 15 grad students in our class, the split was $10 each. We were all, of course, broke grad students, and I couldn’t imagine asking them for any more than that.

To me, $100 is not an insignificant amount of money. If I couldn’t afford to contribute that amount, I’d quietly approach whomever was collecting the money and ask, “Would it be possible for me to contribute $50? Things are a little tight for me during the holidays, and it’s all I can afford.” This is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask.

The truth is, I’m financially stable enough where it wouldn’t be the end of the world for me to part with $100, so I’d probably contribute that amount and avoid worrying about inciting the ire of my coworkers. It would mean that I would spend less money throughout the week to make up for it, but that’s not a problem for me.

Email me your WWYD experiences to me with “WWYD” in the subject line. See previous installments.