can I refuse to put up Christmas decorations at work?

A reader writes:

My employer is asking all of us to decorate our offices/work areas for Christmas this year. The decorations are provided, and she thinks it will brighten up the office. I work as an administrative assistant in the front of the office. Because of some difficult personal reasons, I will not be celebrating Christmas this year, and honestly, the sight of anything holiday-related makes me sad. Would I be out of line if I refused to put up decorations?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Former boss sent large gift baskets to some of us, but not others
  • Can we ask about our missing Christmas bonuses?
  • Wine as a company holiday gift
  • My company is closing the week of Christmas and making me use PTO or take it unpaid

{ 210 comments… read them below }

  1. BadPlanning*

    And wine gives me a headache, so I’d be re-gifting it as well. It seems like a mandatory gift should have 2 or 3 options. Then you have a better chance of selecting something you’ll like or something you know someone else will like.

    1. BadPlanning*

      ETA: but then I know choices are fraught with peril too. Someone chose Thing 1 and got Thing 2. Someone changes their mind three times. Someone wants Thing 4.

      1. Artemesia*

        I can see having no option if the gift is a company logo picnic cooler that many people may not want. But alcohol violates many people’s religious commitments; that is not the same as the ridiculous cooler or calculator or pen set or whatever that is languishing in the back closet.

        1. Amber T*

          Cash. I think cash is the only thing that no one will complain about. (Of course, you might/will have people complain they weren’t given enough, but I don’t think anyone would outright refuse bonus money).

          1. Can't Sit Still*

            I have actually heard people complaining about receiving money, because it was grossed up and “increased their income tax” or because it wasn’t grossed up, and they “only” received the post-tax amount.

            Also, my company used to raffle off cars(!) and people complained about the make/model. There’s no pleasing some people.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              If they’re that bad at math, give them lottery tickets, they’ll love that.

              If you’re $1 under the 33% tax bracket (that puts you in the 28% tax bracket), and you receive a $2/year raise, you will have that first dollar taxed at 28%, and the second dollar will be taxed at 33%. That’s it, only the amount above the cutoff is taxed at the higher rate. There is no way a raise on its own can LOWER your take home pay simply by increasing your tax bracket. Of course there are many other considerations, because it’s complicated, but people seem to misunderstand the way tax brackets work about as often as they seem to misunderstand the mortgage interest deduction.

              1. Koko*

                While the description of tax rates brackets you gave is accurate, a tax lawyer did tell me that there are situations where certain income-based credits that phase out at higher income levels can actually cause take-home pay to go down if income increases. It’s usually a fairly “trivial” amount – like $100 or less – but it does happen.

                (It’s similar to the terrible structure involved with welfare payments that phase out the more money someone makes, so that as the working poor increase their hours worked their take-home pay barely budges, it’s just that their job is paying more of their pay and the state is paying less of it. Really disincentivizes people from picking up more hours when from their POV they’re basically working for free since it doesn’t increase their income! These phase-in/phase-out programs are fraught with liminal cases like that.)

              2. Amber T*

                Well. Never mind then.

                To be fair, I would not want to win a car (just like I would never want to win a huge ridiculous prize that’s worth a lot of money but that isn’t liquid and that loses it’s value quickly) for tax reasons. Unless I’m wrong about that too. Which I might be.

                But please just give me money. I’ll buy my own car/vacation/wine/whatever.

            2. Barney Stinson*

              Can’t Sit Still has it right: if you want to tick people off, give ’em something. In decades of working in compensation administration, I can tell you that nothing gets more people angrier.

        2. JessaB*

          And it can also be a medical issue for those who take certain medications or who are alcoholics. It’s just a bad choice in general. Not to mention even in religions where drinking is a part of things (Jews on Passover,) the wine needs to be Kosher, so that wouldn’t work either. Booze or wine are just generally not good ideas. It’s just too fraught with the ability to make bad choices.

          1. Tiny Soprano*

            This exactly. My boss got a bottle of vodka as one of the Xmas party raffle prizes, and just before that prize was drawn my Muslim colleague turned around and joked that he would probably get it. And I laughed and replied if he didn’t I probably would, because I’m low-level allergic to vodka.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Every year our company has a deadline for ordering a desk calendar, a day timer, or neither. I don’t see why a company couldn’t also ask people to choose between a bottle of wine or a $20 gift card, and if an employee doesn’t respond they’ll be put down for a gift card. It shouldn’t be that much more difficult, and it shows a lot more appreciation for the needs of your employees.

      1. Antilles*

        Eh, I don’t really see the company giving you the option of “calendar or day planner” as equivalent to a bottle of wine or a gift card. The former two items are basically them providing you office supplies – your company may be calling them “gifts”, but it’s really a business-related item that happens to show up in December.
        Even if you don’t really use it for a business purpose, it’s miles away from a ‘true’ gift like a bottle of wine or a card which is purely for your personal use and zero business purpose.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I guess I wasn’t clear enough, I wasn’t equating office supplies with holiday gifts, I was stating that the mechanism for letting people choose something before it is ordered and distributed is not onerous, regardless of what the items are or what they are used for. As I said at the end, offering employees a choice is considerate in either case, but quite important if you want to make sure that your gift is appreciated.

      2. Lisa*

        Our company gives a gift certificate for a ham, turkey or side dishes. You can trade it in for a gift certificate for one of 3 vegetarian choices, one of 3 halal choices or one of 3 kosher choices. I think they hit most of the necessary options and I’ve never heard anyone complain (in fact most people start talking about when they get their emails so they can choose what to get).

        1. WellRed*

          As a single woman with no children, and little family, who doesn’t cook, not sure what to do with…any of these options. I’d love wine or cash or whatever. However, I’d accept ( or decline) graciously.

    3. MarylandAnon*

      We do options where I work. We actually get a list of about 10 items. They range from jackets to bags to pen sets. Everyone just selects one via our internal website and that’s that. There’s normally something for everyone, or there’s an option to have a donation made to our company picked charity.

    4. Brandy*

      Our company gave out really long ice scrappers with a brush on it with the company logo last year. Best gift. This year they gave us windbreakers to wear with the company logo. Theyre cute. These are better then anything else. We once got coffee mugs but most of them are all back in the kitchens here for anyone to use.

      1. JessaB*

        Mr B’s place gives awesome logoed swag throughout the year. We got a great blanket that we keep in the car, a really compact umbrella that is now in my purse, really high end headphones for his phone, one of those bottles that seriously keeps your water like ice all day (I want half a dozen more of those like now, I’ve tried to purchase similar and none are as cold keeping as that one.) So it can work to give company swag if it’s high end. And in Ohio I’d sure be using one of those scraper things all the time.

        But they don’t do that for Christmas they just send it now and then for good work or team bonuses. They do money for Christmas.

        1. Mabel*

          I haven’t seen any good company swag in a long time, but I got a really nice, fleecy blanket from the credit union when I joined a couple of months ago.

        2. Emily*

          My company gave us Patagonia fleeces with the company logo one year, which is the best swag I’ve ever gotten, not least because they offered women’s sizes to the women.

          It really says something that I can’t remember ever being accommodated with women’s sizes anywhere else I’ve worked, even places that made us buy company gear to wear at work. Women are just expected to wear men’s (“unisex”) sizes because they don’t want to deal with twice as many size options. As a petite woman even a men’s Small is loose and baggy enough on me that I could never wear it anywhere professional, so I was so beyond thrilled and happy with my company for letting me choose a women’s size that would actually fit and look smart.

          1. JessaB*

            OH yes, I’d love it if they gave real size choices, as a woman’s 3x I’d hate wearing a men’s size. And I hate companies that forget that there are people who are large or who are petite and just order like a zillion men’s medium and large. Best company I worked in let people know there’d be clothes swag and asked for sizes.

            1. Phlox*

              I got extra swag from my old union because they ordered a range of sizes but since most members were bigger guys who worked on subways, my small unit of folks who rode bikes for work got the extra shirts. The only place ive been were the leftover size was small/medium!

    5. Athlene*

      My company gives $100 in credit to the company store, which is a catalog of logo-branded items. Ranges from keychains all the way up to fancy ski jackets – and of course you have the option of buying more than $100 worth if you put up the difference. I have sooooo much company swag.

  2. Elizabeth Blessing*

    Does the answer to 5. “But if you’re exempt, they’d need to pay you; the law is clear that exempt employees can’t have their salaries docked “for absences occasioned by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business.” change if the employee is in the first 3 months of employment?

    1. Manager-at-Large*

      Also wondering about this phrase – is it different if the company terms it a furlough? (US based)

      1. fposte*

        Looks like you can only be furloughed by full workweek if you’re exempt. (I think that there might be a loophole for some governmental exempt employees, though; I’m a state employee, and a few years ago we were furloughed a day.)

    2. MrsCHX*

      Until this year we have always required PTO be taken for the 3 or 4 days we were closed between Christmas and NYD. Employees used PTO or their 2 Floaters and since most weeks it resulted in no hours worked that week, employees who did not want to use PTO could take it unpaid — including exempt employees.

      We’re an HR Dept of 2 (HR Mgr and SVP of Global HR) and we were finally able to convince the President to offer this as a company benefit. So this year is all paid for by the company. Made for a great end of year for me since I am front-line with EEs!

      1. MrsCHX*

        I should add, we had provisions in place for new hires. If you started in the 4th qtr of the year, the entire thing was paid (4 days max) and reduced for EEs starting in earlier quarters.

        Also important to note we do not have a use it or lose it PTO policy.

      2. with a twist*

        I wish this was the case with my company. We get so few PTO days (and no sick days), then I have to reserve 3-4 days for the mandatory end of year closure between Christmas and NYD. I also can’t roll over any unused days from year-to-year, so the last few months are risky – I don’t want to use what days I have left and then get sick unexpectedly in mid-December and have to take unpaid days (which just happened), nor do I want to lose anything. It’s a really frustrating issue, and something I wish they would change.

      3. oldbiddy*

        That is great! I work at a university now – we’re kind of skimpy on paid holidays, but get the week between Christmas and New Year’s off.

  3. As Close As Breakfast*

    For #5, I know this comes up frequently here, but I still wonder about things like this when it comes to exempt employees. What Alison said makes perfect sense. But, what if in this situation the exempt employee doesn’t have enough vacation to cover the time off? I could see this happening, especially given that it sounds like in years past the time for the closure was just paid out to employees like holiday pay. If that had been what was done before, I could easily see not saving up or making sure I had enough vacation/PTO to cover the closure. But what would happen then if “exempt employees can’t have their salaries docked “for absences occasioned by the employer or by the operating requirements of the business.”?” If the company can’t dock your pay but you don’t have enough vacation/PTO?

      1. WorkingMom*

        I used to work for a company that would close the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Each year, a couple of months prior, the owner would review the calendar (what days holidays fall on) and announce how many days of PTO he would gift each EE, and how many we would need to use on our own. For example – company would gift us each 3 days of PTO, we use 2 days, to be able to close that week.

        I’m sure someone found something to complain about – but we usually had 2 months notice (give or take), and new hires were warned of this up front, to reserve a couple of days for it. Everyone knew that was the annual arrangement, and I for one, was grateful!

    1. Desert Dweller*

      My school had part of the break as holiday time, the rest as mandatory annual leave. About 3 days each. Employees who hadn’t accrued enough were docked from the next year. Then we got a new president who agreed that sucked so this is the second year that the school pays us all (who aren’t temp hires) and this year he announced that it was a permanent policy change. Yay!

      1. Amy S*

        I just started working at a college and we have the week between Christmas and New Years off…all at holiday pay! I am doing my super happy dance! Gotta love that college schedule :)

      2. Amy S*

        And forgot to add that because of the way the holidays fall we get this Friday off for Christmas Eve…I am never leaving this job (for the awesome benefits and MANY other reasons!)

      3. Mabel*

        This is great! I get that paying people when they’re not working (because the business is closed) costs money, but it creates a lot of good will with employees.

  4. Artemesia*

    The gift basket thing is hilarious. If I had received one, I’d be cracking wise about it and probably sharing the dubious bounty. If I didn’t receive one, well I’d probably smirk and say ‘well we always suspected he was an asshole and now we know for sure.’ If he simply wanted to remember these people he could have sent gifts to their homes (a client of my husband’s always sent us a honeybaked ham for the holidays to our home — gifts that came to the office were always divided up and shared out with staff and partners all participating so if someone wanted to single someone out, they sent to the homes) Sending to the office has to have been a calculated move to diss those he didn’t so bless. It is hilarious.

    I worked for a very large organization which when they finally gave up the expensive elaborate Christmas party that no one really liked, gave everyone a turkey instead. And you also got a raffle ticket which meant you might in addition get a ham. Anyone who wished could request a tofurky. Anyone giving out alcohol needs to have some process for people to request a non-alcohol gift which could be something as simple as one of those sparkling fruit juice things. Every gift doesn’t have to please everyone, but things like ham or alcohol that violate religious practices need alternatives and simple procedures for that.

    1. Anony*

      Yeah, it seems simple enough to have a non-alcoholic alternative. I always like those fancy italian sodas.

  5. Jman4l*


    I think the answer to #5 is incorrect. They can make a salaried person take off a week unpaid. They just can’t allow you to work a minute during that week

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If it’s a full week, you’re right! I will clarify in the post that if it’s a full week, that changes things. (If it’s just four days, then it doesn’t.) Thank you.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        How would that play out if Christmas were a paid company holiday, and the rest of the week required PTO? In that situation, what would happen if an exempt employee were out of PTO?

        1. Jman4l*

          Am not a labor attorney, but I think that the DOL regards paid holidays as time not worked so they can make you take off Tu-Fri without pay

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t change anything because typically the law just looks at whether work was performed that week, not the reasons that it wasn’t. But I’m not positive.

        3. Antilles*

          I don’t think it wouldn’t affect things, because you’re not actually working on Monday either. Remember that private employers in the US aren’t actually required to provide paid holidays, so they could just argue that they’re just letting you take Monday off without charging you PTO because they don’t feel like it, but you’re still not actually working.
          Though in reality, any company which has this policy is probably run by jerks anyways, so they very well might just counter with “Good point! Employees are now required to use PTO on the Christmas holiday too!”

          1. MrsCHX*

            This. Well I would phrase it as the holiday pay is a “bonus/benefit” that employers provide so you still wouldn’t be required to “suffer work” (the actual language! LOL!) that week. And therefore the time can be unpaid.

    2. CAA*

      If they’re forcing the employee to take the time unpaid, then I think they would not be able to treat Christmas Day as a paid holiday either. Often companies that have an end-of-year shutdown do actually pay for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.

      1. MrsCHX*

        No true (the scenario is how my company has handled it for 13 years before this year). Employees can use PTO (or in our case FH as well). If there is NO WORK performed that week by exempt staff, they may take the non-paid holiday days unpaid. And we do have a few people who would do so…including our VP of Ops! Which was always interesting to me :)

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    #1 sounds like a very difficult situation.

    Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to avoid seeing holiday decorations unless you stay in your home until after the New Year. I hope that you have people you can rely on to help you navigate the season and provide you with support.

    1. Big Fat Meanie*

      That’s a little uncalled for, OP probably knows they can’t avoid seeing decorations, they’re just asking if they can get out of putting up decorations in their own workspace, which is complicated when your desk is the most visible one in the office, and thus they may have less control over it than a regular ol’ cube dweller might.

    2. Pollygrammer*

      I wonder if the workplace would be satisfied with “generic winter” decorati0ns–blue, silver, snowflakes and such? It can be plenty festive and pretty, but it’s not “Christmas.” (And, as a bonus, doesn’t immediately go stale on December 26).

      1. Video Gamer Lurker*

        I was about to type about Generic Winter stuff as well – snowmen, snowflakes, blue stuff…

      2. MamaSarah*

        Or perhaps paper whites or a lovely amarelis? Or some snowy decorations or winter images? Hugs, OP #1! We’re just about over the hurdle.

  7. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

    Full disclosure, I hate christmas… but I do try to keep my “scroogeness” to myself. Like we dont get enuf of xmas EVERYWHERE ELSE this time of year?!? Really, a break from seeing xmas in an office or business anywhere is such a relief!!

    A friend also felt this way but the decorating of his cubicle was mandatory, somehow…to make the office festive for winter, I think.

    So he put fake cotton snow with a yellow pee stain in it (not real pee) and maybe a responsible reindeer figurine. He was gonna hang it like a gutted deer with red dots in the snow but kept that in his back pocket if there were complaints about his forced decorating.

    No one gave him any crap and he went on to be elected alderman in a small town.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      I’ve seen those white lighted reindeer hanging that way from a tree with a string of red lights below. I got a giggle out of it because I’m a terrible human being.

      1. Meyers and Briggs were not real doctors*

        I also live in a popular hunting state. Seeing the morbidly festive red lighted reindeer hanging doesnt even phase me anymore, they’re so common.

        I tend to laugh more at Santa’s severed limbs sticking out of car trunks or under garage doors or chimneys etc. Especially of they went to the effort of fake blood.

        ALSO!!! there is a house on my college town near campus that does zombie decorations…for halloween and for xmas. Now those I can appreciate!

        1. PlainJane*

          Ah, Christmas in a hunting/gun-heavy state. Seen in the Wal-Mart Christmas decoration department: a string of lighted shotgun shells called (wait for it)

          Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells

      2. Pebbles*

        Friend of mine every year puts up a Santa figurine on his roof “peeing” over the edge with Xmas lights hanging to the ground. Then he builds a Xmas tree inside out of hockey sticks and Labatt Blue beer boxes held together with tinsel.

    2. Liane*

      Ewww, GROSS! I live in a state where hunting is A Very, Very Big Thing*, and I have never heard of, or–thankfully–seen. I even asked Husband who grew up here (and intends to go hunting again**) and he assured me it wasn’t.

      (I am all for the Deer Doing #1, however. I find that hilarious, and it’s not that different from the custom in some places, of putting a figure of someone answering nature’s call in manger scenes.)

      *I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a state law against firing employees who take off for hunting, even without notice.
      **If he gets a Round TUIT. [/jokes]

      1. Bea*

        I agree. Yellow snow is never not funny but the dead things is over the top, my hillbilly family and small town upbringing never had any of that. I guess we respect that kids shouldn’t be put in that situation and it’s just all around rude

    3. Catarina*

      I am feeling particularly violent towards deer at the moment (just totalled my second car in less than a year, both thanks to Bambi) so I heartily approve this message.

      1. nonegiven*

        Every time that happens around here, the men ask, “Did you get any of the meat?” The women say, “Oh, did the poor deer get hurt?”

  8. The Principal of the Thing*

    I love the solution to holiday leave that our employer came up with in our EA. Instead of being paid leave loading on our annual leave, we are paid our regular pay rate for annual leave and then have three days “shutdown leave” paid at the regular rate. So once we finish up on Friday, every regular work day is paid until we reopen January 2.

  9. pomme de terre*

    #1, that really stinks. I lost my dad in mid-October and all the death/ghost stuff around Halloween was the worst. Trying to avoid Christmas would be even harder. Hope the holiday season goes by quietly, and that things get better for you soon.

    1. Totally Minnie*

      I lost a loved one just before Christmas several years ago, and seeing all the “Christmas Cheer” everywhere I went was pretty hard.

      OP, I’m so sorry that you’re going through such a hard time during a period when people are expected to be joyous. I hope that you’ll be able to get through the holiday and get back to some level of normal soon. The AAM community is pulling for you!

      1. Plague of frogs*

        My church does a Christmas service for people for whom Christmas is a sad time. I think it’s an awesome idea and I wish that more people and institutions would recognize that Christmas is not universally joyous.

        1. Epiphyta*

          Yeah, the Episcopal church near me does a “Quiet Christmas” Holy Eucharist service on the 21st.

          Sometimes the holiday season is not “the most wonderful time of the year,” and for those of us experiencing loss or grief, Christmas can be an especially difficult time. The death of a beloved friend or family member, a divorce or job loss, an illness or frightening diagnosis or myriad other personal struggles can make this time of year particularly tender. The prominence of our culture’s “seasonal joy” may be an unwelcome reminder of the void or heartache in our own lives.

    2. MoodyMoody*

      I’m with you. My father actually died on October 31 a few years ago, and I still haven’t been able to wear a costume for Halloween since. It feels disrespectful to me, but I still miss coming up with creative costumes. (Before, for example, I had dressed up as a fall tree losing its leaves and in 2008, a voting booth.)

      1. pomme de terre*

        I’m curious to see how I feel about Halloween next year. On the actual day of Halloween, I went to a very low-key party (like 6 people around a firepit with beers, handing out candy) and that was fine.

        So sorry for your loss. Maybe it will feel OK to dress up again someday, especially if you are invited to a non-Oct. 31 party.

    3. Mrs. Fenris*

      My dad died very suddenly in late October ten years ago, as in he went to bed perfectly healthy, got up the next morning, and had a fatal heart attack. For some reason it didn’t ruin Halloween for me, but Christmas is pretty much destroyed. I basically power through Christmas with a fake smile. SAD and a busy and depressing season at work don’t help either. It helps if I don’t listen to much Christmas music.

      1. pomme de terre*

        That sounds really rough, Mrs. Fenris. Hope Christmas 2017 passes quickly and uneventfully. I recommend the “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” podcast, particularly the two holiday episodes. So sorry for your loss.

  10. Green Tea Lover*

    #3 – Do ask about the bonus (especially if they mentioned that there will be one)!! When I was on my previous job, we were told that we will get Christmas bonus but I haven’t seen mine after new years – it turned out that there were some miscommunication and my OOO in between that caused my check to be forgotten….please check!

    1. Marthooh*

      Absolutely the OP should ask about the missing bonus! It’s not a gift, so don’t you don’t have to be delicate-minded about it.

  11. SallytooShort*

    I agree that it is dumb to gift wine when there are almost always some people who don’t drink for various reasons around. Or who just don’t like wine.

    But the one good thing about that is it is very regiftable. Unlike something with the company’s logo. I know you’d prefer a gift you could actually use. But at least there is something to do with it.

    1. Temperance*

      Wine gifts are universally regifted because it’s a migraine trigger for me. They’re probably my favorite because it’s something that most people like, and are so easily regiftable. I love not buying presents. lol

    2. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      Also people who don’t like that particular kind of wine! I love wine, but if you give me a Chardonnay I’m passing it on instantly.

      1. Artemesia*

        Me too. I take the unregiftable moscato that one of our friends always brings to book club where a couple of people actually seem to like it. I don’t know anyone but them and the gift bringers that consider this drinkable (and maybe they don’t either but are regifting themselves)

        But a Muslim or a Budhist is not going to be able to regift wine and an alcoholic will feel embarrassed to do so.

        1. Kelly*

          As a recovering alcoholic, I am never embarrassed to re-gift booze of any sort. Different folks will feel differently about that.

        2. Ainomiaka*

          I want to push back a little bit on the Muslims or Buddhists wouldn’t be able to register wine-my experience is that religious minorities tend to be much better than majorities about being okay with “my religious rules do not apply to everyone. ” Obviously this is not a rigorous sampling, and I still think an alternative to alcohol is a good idea. But I do think that assuming that rules about what one can consume mean that person has to shun that thing is not universally true or helpful.

          1. Bea*

            Yep. I’ve had plenty of non drinking religious folks in my life that don’t care what the rest of us consume. It varies depending on an individual basis.

  12. Temperance*

    Wawa gift cards (or Sheetz, or whatever it is that people have who don’t have Wawa or Sheetz) are universal. If you don’t/can’t eat their food, there’s coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, you can use it to buy gas.

    1. all aboard the anon train*

      I just had to google what both of those were!

      I’m also a fan of Visa or Amex gift cards because you can use it for whatever you want.

      1. Temperance*

        You’re missing out, anon!! Come to the east coast of the US and partake in our wonderful gas station fare ;)

      2. Liane*

        My (almost) annual reminder for Visa/Amex gift cards:
        1-Read the card folder carefully before buying! (Generally the GCs have holiday, birthday, or generic gift wrap graphics, but not always.) You don’t want to pick up a prepaid credit card by mistake–the store you bought it from won’t be able to refund/void it and you won’t be able to get the money off except by using it.
        2-Opt for Amex over Visa. If the purchase is more than is on an Amex GC, the remaining balance will be used and the purchaser will pay the difference. Visa treats this situation like someone going over their limit on a traditional credit card, and refuses the transaction. Plus, you have to keep track of the exact balance.

        1. Sarah*

          That hasn’t been my experience with Visa gift cards. They always seem to let me use another form of payment to cover the difference.

      3. Bea*

        Dislike Visa/AMX cards only because they include a fee to purchase. I would rather give all the money to my friend than 25 in a card plus another 5 to a merchant services company. I could just give Buddy a $30 gift card to somewhere specific.

      4. Liz2*

        I don’t like those because you have to pay a fee to activate it, and to check balances and a few other restrictions.

    2. HS Teacher*

      Born and raised in PA and now live in AZ. I miss Wawa so much. When I go home, it’s one of my first stops, followed by a trip to the bar for a Yuengling on tap.

      Anyway, in AZ we have QT and Circle K. QT is better, in my opinion, but Circle K has upped their game. There are very few 7-11’s where I live, which is odd to me.

      I like the idea of a convenience store gift card. I never thought to do that before, so thanks for the tip! I usually go with Amazon, but now I’m realizing not everyone is a fan of online shopping, so your idea is better.

      1. Temperance*

        Amazon is a close 2nd for me! I love Amazon.

        When you come back, definitely try some Yards Brawler if you can get it! Best Philly beer, in my opinion, and it ships all over the state :)

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        One of my friends posted on FB yesterday that she’d be drinking Wawa coffee in 24 hours. She was real excited.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Thank you for the Sheetz love. I moved from NYC to a part of the country where Sheetz locations abound. I have developed a very great love for their people, their prices, and their very delicious coffee (that I occasionally get for free because of the aforementioned people).

    4. Bea*

      I have dreams of Wawa coming to the west but my heart is still with 7-11 as they continue to grow with me.

    5. anon24*

      Wawa is life! Wawa gift cards are one of my favorite Christmas gifts from anyone. When I lived back closer to Philly my company gave the people with seniority cash bonuses based off of how hard they worked and everyone else got Wawa gift cards. We were tipped employees and one time we had a major break down that shut the business down for the day. So instead of working and making tip money, my employees had to help me do this huge difficult repair, working way harder and just getting paid their base hourly wage. As manager, I was paid extra anyway, because it was my job to deal with those sort of things, but I complained to our head manager and he talked the owner into giving everyone who was involved with the repair a wawa gift card. It wasn’t what they would have made in tips, but they were all thrilled anyway because wawa.

    6. Lissa*

      holy crap, this is the first thread I have ever seen where someone’s said “X is universal” and there hasn’t been at least one person popping up to explain why they personally would hate it.

  13. Observer*

    #4 – Food gifts tend to be a bad idea, because it’s so likely that there are going to be a significant number of people who can’t partake. In the case of meat or fowl, you’re looking at vegetarians and many people whose religion mandates dietary rules. Wine, too.

    What makes this more difficult than many other gifts is that these items often either are fundamentally incompatible with people’s principles or religious beliefs, or may be actively harmful to them. (Someone with an alcohol problem could very well be harmed by a gift of wine.) There are foreseeable problems that can be expected in any moderately sized workforce that in the least bit diverse. While a of people may not be able to use a picnic cooler, it won’t harm them or (probably) fly in the face of their religion.

    1. JessaB*

      Funny thing is I can’t see how most people wouldn’t be able to use a picnic cooler, you keep in your car in the summer to put the frozen food in so it doesn’t melt. Even if you don’t picnic and it’s cold, we used ours to empty the freezer when the power went out.

      1. Video Gamer Lurker*

        My family uses those for transporting leftovers after the holidays at Grandma’s or bringing stuff to her place.

    2. Former Employee*

      “While a of people may not be able to use a picnic cooler, it won’t harm them or (probably) fly in the face of their religion.”

      Exactly – just about everyone can use it for something. If you really don’t need a cooler for food, you can use it to store the kid’s/dog’s toys or your tools or whatever.

      Remember, the goal is do no harm.

  14. Sara*

    As a person who has now received four bottles of wine from my co-workers, I agree that’s a strange gift since people that even like wine are particular about what wines they like. But its very easy to give away as a hostess gift for the holidays.
    My company gives a book every year. They’re bound the same, so they look like a set but they’re always some historical topic. Last year was the history of earthquakes in San Francisco. Its a very weird gift. I give mine to my friend’s dad who has a relative that used to work here and now has a complete set (between my contribution and the relative’s).

  15. caryatis*

    I think wine is a great gift. People who don’t drink can serve it to guests, or regift. Wine never goes to waste! Unlike a lot of the unhealthy food or useless trinkets people give as gifts.

    1. Turkletina*

      It’s great that most people *can* re-gift wine, sure. But how valued do you think a Muslim employee feels as a person when she receives a bottle of wine that everyone knows she and her family can’t use?

    2. neeko*

      It’s not uncommon for people who don’t drink to not socialize with drinkers and even if they do, don’t want alcohol in their home. I’m sober and have many friends who drink but would still feel really weird giving it as a gift.

      1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        Congratulations on your sobriety. I imagine just having it in your possession for long enough to re-gift it might feel weird, too?

        It’s definitely a tone-deaf gift. So many people don’t drink, or rarely drink, for so many reasons–religion, health, medication contraindications, sobriety, family history, personal distaste…

    3. Totally Minnie*

      I was brought up in a conservative religion that forbids alcohol, and I can’t imagine a situation where a person from that faith community would give alcohol as a gift. Even if it was free wine that the gift-giver didn’t have to pay for. In fact, I remember a couple of times my parents were given gifts of wine by coworkers, and that wine went straight down the drain.

    4. MrsCHX*

      People who DO drink wine though are often very particular about what they like. I have like 2-3 wines that I really like and usually avoid drinking wine anywhere because I hardly ever enjoy it.

    5. LBK*

      Is a bottle of wine a common gift at Christmas when it’s not from an employer? The only time I can picture giving a friend a bottle of wine is as an engagement gift or a thank you for letting me stay at their house or something, which aren’t necessarily occasions I’m going to have near Christmas. And it feels weird to have the bottle sitting around your house until something happens that gives you an excuse to give it away. Also, not to reopen the raffle letter debate, but that still strikes me as a bad thing to give employees if it’s supposed to be a nice present to show some kind of appreciation. Something that’s essentially garbage I have to figure out how to get rid but feel bad about throwing out doesn’t really say “Thank you for your work this year” to me.

      Regifting is a possible solution to the problem of getting something you can’t use. It shouldn’t be part of the original gifter’s thought process for selecting what to give people.

      1. OhNo*

        Yeah, I always think of wine as more of a host/hostess gift than anything else. It seems like something you might bring over as a token of thanks, but not necessarily a substitute for a full-fledged gift.

        And honestly, if I did get a bottle of wine I wouldn’t feel comfortable re-gifting it unless I knew for 200% certain that the person I was giving it to a) drinks alcohol, b) likes wine in general, and c) likes that specific type of wine. So I don’t think it’s quite a regiftable as a lot of folks here are saying.

      2. Mints*

        I bring wine as a host/party gift all the time, but I also drink wine so it’s way less weird. I think the most generic gift (besides Visa) is Starbucks gift cards, company mug optional. I know there’s the same “not everyone drinks coffee” but there are more options to eat/drink for it to feel less “I guess they forgot about the Muslim employees”

        1. Mints*

          I’m being pedantic with myself – I’m including a low key get together as a situation where I would bring a host gift, and not just letting me stay overnight as “hosting”

      3. JulieBulie*

        Not necessarily as a Christmas gift all on its own, but sometimes when invited over for dinner or a party. (Could also be candy or some other consumable treat.)

        Etiquette of giving/receiving wine for a party is that the host is not expected to serve the wine at the party unless the giver was specifically asked to bring it for that purpose. The wine/candy is a so-called “hostess gift,” not a potluck contribution.

      4. Erso*

        My husband’s uncle loves wine. Last year he received nine bottles of wine from people, and then won two more bottles in our yankee swap game.

    6. Oryx*

      So, wine drinkers get a gift they can use for themselves but those that don’t drink wine get ……. a gift they can give to someone else?

      1. JulieBulie*

        Yeah, it sucks. Regifting, if feasible, is just a way to feel that it isn’t going to waste, and I suppose it saves you the fuss and bother of buying a gift for someone… but it would be nice to just get a good gift in the first place, right?

        I mean, if it’s the thought that counts, then what can you say if the gift does not reflect any thought behind it?

        1. LBK*

          It’s not like wine is especially hard to get, either – it’s unlikely someone who can regift it would think “Oh great, now I can check that off my list! Thanks for saving me the effort!” It’s probably going to be more like “Hmm, Jane drinks wine so I guess I can unload this on her.” Regifting is still a burden, not a perk.

          1. JulieBulie*

            Right, and as others have pointed out, even wine drinkers typically don’t love ALL wine. It’s like giving someone any random book because “I know you like to read.”

      2. Lissa*

        Well, that’s true of almost any “physical” gift – unless you do a gift card, and sometimes even then, it’s always going to be a hit with some and others will be “meh, I guess I can give it to my brother in law.”

      3. SS Express*

        I personally LOVE receiving things that I can regift! Any time I get a generic gift I put it aside for future regifting. My boss gave me chocolates for Christmas and I’m taking them to a dinner tonight as a hostess gift. I actually like chocolate (and candles and hand cream) but not as much as I like having a quick and easy (and free!) solution to my last minute “oh no I forgot to pick up a little something for Jane” problems.

    7. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      Wine gifted to me definitely goes to waste.

      I don’t drink alcohol of any kind, and I don’t have guests over to drink at my place either.
      My general circle of friends doesn’t have anyone to re-gift random wine to, and I don’t do generalized social things where I need a generic gift.

      Thankfully, the people that gift me things know that alcohol is not something to give, and thus the only wine wasted was from a gift basket I got from my realtor when I bought a house.

    8. Kyrielle*

      I don’t drink; I don’t host dinner parties; as far as I know, our friends don’t drink. I have a couple of relatives who enjoy an occasional glass of wine, but a) I couldn’t tell you which types they like, b) I couldn’t tell whether a bottle of wine I had was decent enough to regift or, well, not, and c) I feel awkward giving wine.

      When we bought our current house, the realtor gave us a bottle of wine. I *think* we regifted it to the relatives who drink occasionally, in the hopes that they’d either enjoy it or have a better idea of who might. I think. (I may be wrong, it may have been poured out, which is really the only alternative I can think of.)

      I’d rather get nothing than get a bottle of wine, and if my company tried to gift me one I would decline it. At _best_ I have to store it and then regift it, and the latter may well mean I’m passing on the imposition to yet another person.

    9. Nicki Name*

      Regiftable gift = the gift of more work.

      The recipient now has to take it home, figure out who to fob it off on, take the time to hand it off, etc.

  16. neeko*

    Credit Card issued gift cards are the best company gift and super easy to obtain. I’m sober so wine would be a huge bummer for me!

    1. Hello...ello...ello..ello..llo..llo..lo*

      The problem with gift cards is that they are also taxed. My company will not issue them because of this.

      I do give gift cards for my team, but it’s personal paid and not company reimbursed.

      1. MrsCHX*

        We do gift cards but we gross up the taxes so EEs actually receive the $50. I hated receiving turkeys at old jobs. I do not cook a big meal for Christmas. I just had a turkey a month ago. I don’t want anymore turkey. LOL!

        1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          I hear you on the turkey, haha!
          I live on my own and have zero family nearby (plus am not a holiday-person in general).
          I dunno what I’d do with an entire turkey.

      2. LBK*

        If an item is expensive enough it’s also supposed to be taxed, so unless they’re giving out cheap gifts it doesn’t really make a difference.

      3. Robin Sparkles*

        But you still get a cash gift vs a useless gift even if some portion of the gift goes to taxes (which it should anyway). My company used to give out $50 Amazon gift cards that they added in my paycheck as an additional line item taxed. Since I received the extra $50 on top of my pay, it wasn’t as if I personally lost the amount. It still seems a better gift to me.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, I never really understood why this makes a big difference to people. Even if you want to consider it as technically a net $40 gift card or whatever, that’s still more useful to me than an item I don’t want. It feels like it’s just the evil bogeyman of taxes without any real rationale behind it.

    2. FCJ*

      I hate those. They’re a pain to use if you don’t spend them all at once. My MIL gives them to me sometimes, and I have two or three in my wallet with, like, $11.12 or something on them because some places won’t take them if they don’t cover the whole amount, or at other places you have to know the exact amount on the card because they can’t just scan it and then charge you the remainder. If the goal is to give someone money they can spend on whatever, what’s the problem with cash?

  17. theletter*

    years ago, I was on a team of two and we had to decorate our cubicles for an office decorating contest. My boss and I picked very minimal, tasteful decor and a couple of coffee mugs that said “Bah Humbug!” I still have the mug.

  18. Anon Accountant*

    A college professor told our class we should avoid giving alcohol as a gift because of religious reasons and some may struggle with alcoholism and it could appear insensitive. A suggestion was a gift card, nice coffee mug filled with candy or some other gift you could think of. If they don’t want it they can regift it.

    1. Mrs Diabetic*

      My husband is diabetic and at celebrations and holidays, people keep giving him candy and chocolate or urging him to eat cake, donuts, etc. It sucks. He wants to eat it and he can’t. Sometimes he ends up eating something he shouldn’t and it impacts his health. Other times he has to explain his health situation in detail to others to get them to stop offering. And sometimes people disregard that explanation and urge him to eat it anyway. So candy is not a great gift for everyone either.

  19. WillyNilly*

    Commutes should be considered when choosing gifts too.
    Years ago when I was a banquet waitress we were each given a 12lb turkey as a holiday gift. I don’t think there were any vegetarians (we had staff meal before every shift so eating habits were visible), but we all commuted via public transit (the two managers drove). Lugging a giant heavy turkey home after a long shift, in the cold, on buses and subways, sucked.
    These days I know several people who bike several miles each way as their commute. I can’t imagine a glass bottle of wine is a fun addition to their workbag.

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      I’ve also been gifted a 14 lbs. turkey. As a single person (at the time), I was left wondering what on earth I was supposed to do with it. Friendsmas it was.

    2. Big Fat Meanie*

      Totally! I take the train to and from work, and I try to be considerate of my fellow passengers and not carry big, bulky things on with me when I can help it. It’s easier now that I take the commuter rail, but even then, taking a big turkey on the train with me would be both obnoxious and difficult!

    3. Laura*

      As a cyclist, a 75ml bottle of wine is totally immaterial compared to my own weight! Especially if you have a saddlebag.

  20. JulieBulie*

    I was just remembering one employer that handed out $50 cards for a (totally ubiquitous in our state) supermarket chain. Some people griped that it was “cheap,” but we had received nothing the previous year. Plus, everyone needs groceries, so I really don’t think they could have done any better short of giving us cash, but that would be bonuses, which were a separate thing.

    1. Samata*

      I used to work somewhere that did this and the chain has a gas station. Since I traveled a lot for the holidays I used it for gas. I wouldn’t have cared if it was $5, honestly. Every bit helped.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Also, most supermarkets sell other gift cards, so at the very least, you could buy a gift card to somewhere else.

      1. MsSolo*

        Just a heads up, but some places won’t let you buy gift cards with gift cards, because of money laundering implications.

  21. SpaceySteph*

    Tangential to #1: We got a company-wide holiday email from the CEO yesterday that began with “There is a universal consensus that this is the most wonderful time of the year.”

    Really irked me.

    1. JulieBulie*

      December is absolutely the worst month of the year for me because of work-related stress, weather-related stress, family-related stress, and being drowned in Christmas (and/or the commercial phenomenon known as “the holidays”) for more than a month. It affects my mood and my health. The only thing that gets me through is the belief that it will all be over on New Year’s Day.

      I say this as a former Christmas enthusiast. It is not fun any more, especially since end-of-year stuff at work is so intense. Christmas was fun when I was a kid, had no responsibilities, and thought that a year was a really long time. It is all different now.

      Christmas seemed rare and “special” in those days. It was restricted to just about a three-week period and did not seem all-consuming. Now it is a 360-degree firehose for nearly two months. Two months is not “special.” I can’t believe that more people aren’t upset about having to hear Madonna’s rendition of “Santa Baby” every time they go into a store. I am so, so over it that I feel like crying the very first time I hear a Christmas song each year (usually in October) and am pretty much burnt out and used up by the time December 25 rolls around.

      I can think of a lot of reasons why some people would find this an even less wonderful time of year than I do. That makes me even sadder.

      Sorry for the rant. I just think that if I got that email from SpaceySteph’s CEO, I would need to take a long, long walk (weather permitting) before being able to say a civil word to anyone.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I’m not SpaceySteph, so I can’t speak to their specific reason for being frustrated by this statement. But I kind of have a love-hate relationship with Christmas. A lot of people do. Some people are estranged from their families, which makes the holiday’s emphasis on family time really painful. My family lost a loved one a few days prior to Christmas, and it’s made the holiday difficult ever since.

        I’m not saying people should feel bad about loving Christmas. I’m just pointing out that when people say “everybody loves Christmas!” it makes people like me feel a little bit invisible.

        1. JulieBulie*

          Really the only way the CEO’s statement isn’t incredibly insensitive would be if he meant it facetiously. (Maybe he used a winkie emoticon, but the mail system stripped it out, something like that.)

          1. Lissa*

            See, I would’ve taken that CEO statement as sort of wry, like “Considering we are bombarded nonstop with music, advertising and television telling us this is the most wonderful time of year, I guess it is, so I guess we have to address it…”

    2. Mrs. Fenris*

      Omg I sympathize…this is a difficult time of year for everyone in my industry. No boss would say this with a straight face.

  22. The Original Flavored K*

    Not the op, but can I say that it sucks that I can’t opt out of other people’s celebration of a religious holiday? Curious about whether I, as an atheist, can say that my own sincerely-held religious beliefs prevent me from participating in other people’s celebrations of a religion I’m not part of.

    Then again, there’s been some debate on whether atheism is a religion at all.

    1. nonymous*

      I am not an atheist (on the agnostic spectrum here), but I’d like to think if I worked with you I’d take a passing interest in whatever happy activities/causes you engage in during your free time. Can you just chalk others’ observation of religion as a Thing that is important to Them, and focus on the secular? Christmas doesn’t have to be a religious holiday – sometimes people just like the sparkles and cookies.

      If your coworkers are actively forcing religiosity at you, you have my sympathies (and it’s not how religion is supposed to work – they’re being jerks).

      1. The Original Flavored K*

        It is the celebration of the birth of the Messiah. My coworkers are perfectly free to like sparkles and snow and give each other presents on their own time. I simply don’t want to participate in their holiday that originated from religious traditions. I’m also bitterly curious why my sincerely-held religious belief that there is no god should exempt me any less than a Jehovah’s Witness’ sincerely-held religious beliefs that Christmas and birthday celebrations are inappropriate.

        Also, I’m sick of people telling me how nice religious people are or should be. It’s not about being nice or mean. It’s not personal — I just don’t participate in anybody else’s religion in any way, shape, or form if I can possibly avoid it.

        1. Kelly*

          You and I are on the same page. I don’t have ppl trying to force me to celebrate any other religion based holiday shenanigans. I’ve tried a breezy “oh I don’t really celebrate xmas” to the more accurate “I’m pagan so this isn’t HOW I celebrate”…..I try to be polite and I wish others were just as polite.

        2. Epiphyta*

          *offers fistbump*

          In my specific faith it’s not appropriate for me to participate in other people’s religious observances (exceptions for educational/outreach/interfaith events); yes, there is a December holiday, but it’s not a major one. So for me the sparkles and snow (we don’t generally have snow during this festival) is a reminder that “this event is not mine”, and I’m not happy about being Othered like that at work.

    2. MoodyMoody*

      See the latest Captain Awkward about this. The LW there is Jewish, not atheist, but several of the comments mentioned atheism and paganism as well. Link to follow due to moderation issues.

  23. Nicki Name*

    #4 – If you’re in the US, here’s some data on non-drinkers. Over a third of adults in the US don’t drink at all. If you say “but what about the Muslims”, HR may picture a very small affected group. But if you say, “Statistically, this gift will be useless to 38% of the people receiving it,” that should grab their attention.

    1. PlainJane*

      I always thought the percentage of teetotalers like me was much lower. Thanks for sharing this. It’s oddly fascinating–and you’ve given me objective evidence that I’m not a freak :-)

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Same. Considering how ubiquitous I’ve found alcohol to be (in the areas I’ve lived, none of which have a non-drinking religious majority), and how much pushback I’ve personally experienced and witnessed, I would’ve predicted the percentage to be much lower!

    2. Catarina*

      Based anecdotally on small talk in my last several jobs, there is very often a rolling number of people who are not drinking at any given time, in addition to the religious and sober. Women TTC or pregnant, people prone to migraines or trying to lose weight, folks on elimination diets…it adds up faster than you’d expect.

    3. nonegiven*

      I think Baptists are a huge part of Christians and many do not drink at all, also Mormons, probably others.

  24. slick ric flair*

    I know the AAM comments veer hard towards anti-alcohol as a gift – but lots and lots of people drink wine, or recognize it as a standard non-offensive gift. You can’t please everyone. Yes of course you shouldn’t exclude religious people and should make accommodations if available, but does that mean you can never give out company gifts or run a Wine raffle at work? I don’t think so.

    I see it the same as work holiday parties. This comment zone really doesn’t like them, but lots of people do and because we only hear about bad ones here I feel like it gets a bit silly to read.

    1. Student*

      There are so, so many non-wine gifts that one could give instead, though. Why would an office go with one that, very probably, is useless, unappreciated, or even offensive to a large minority of their employees?

      Sure, there is no give aside from money that everyone will appreciate. (Why not go with money then? I would love some Christmas money.) There are lots of other gifts that won’t actively offend anyone, and that more people will like.

      The idea is to give people something that the gift-receiver will like and feel appreciative of; wine will accomplish that in some cases, but actually alienate people in other cases. So, again, why choose wine in that situation?

      If the office is small enough that it’s known everyone likes wine, then sure – give wine. If you don’t know everyone loves wine, the take-home we are trying to send is that lots of people actually do not like wine. It is nowhere near a universal like – it’s more of a universal bleh that a minority really strongly likes.

    2. Totally Minnie*

      I don’t have a problem with a wine raffle, because one would assume that people who don’t drink wine just wouldn’t enter the raffle. That’s different from giving a bottle of wine to each and every employee.

      And yeah, there’s no single gift that every employee will like, but if you know that there’s a thing that’s forbidden in more than one religion and there’s a non-zero chance that some of your employees belong to one of those religions, it’s kind of a jerk move to make that your all-staff holiday gift.

    3. nnn*

      I think also part of the problem with alcohol as compared to other gifts that aren’t suitable for everyone is that some people don’t drink because they’re alcoholics, i.e. they’re capital-S Sober. So it’s not just an irrelevant object to them, it’s handing them temptation to relapse into their destructive addiction.

    4. LBK*

      Not being able to please everyone doesn’t give you license to be thoughtless, especially if the entire purpose of giving the gift is ostensibly to show appreciation. If you know your team is all wine drinkers, feel free! If you’re not sure or know categorically that there are people who don’t drink/don’t drink wine, you should put in the effort to come up with something else. For an entire company-wide gift, it feels especially thoughtless since you can know with almost 100% certainty there’s going to be a decent amount of people who don’t want it.

      On the flipside, if you’re not going to bother putting time and effort into the gift, don’t be offended if people don’t seem grateful.

  25. Pollygrammer*

    #3 made me laugh. I’m all for courtesy, but goodness gracious, if there’s one thing to NOT tiptoe politely around, it’s your paycheck!

  26. Must love cats*

    At my previous job, a co-worker would always give me cheap wine for Christmas. I was gracious about it but co-worker knew that I couldn’t drink alcohol due to health reasons so I couldn’t understand why I was the recipient. After reading these posts, I’m thinking that she probably regifted it to me! Ha. I know that she frequently regifted other items so it stands to reason that the strawberry wine was no exception.

  27. Big Fat Meanie*

    I decorated the heck out of my cube for both Christmas and Halloween, because I am super in love with those holidays, BUT I would be very much against a mandate that we had to decorate our workspaces, because I know this holiday isn’t everyone cup of tea and there’s nothing wrong with that. Besides, some people just hate decorating in general. I think making spirits bright is an important part of the holiday, but if smothering someone in Christmas stuff makes them feel worse, rather than better, it’s counterproductive. ‘Tis the season to give people a break and let them do what makes them happy.

  28. cheluzal*

    3: Pshaw, as a teacher I have never received a bonus at Christmas, unless you count the cookies in the lounge today…lol…

  29. SS Express*

    I just want to point out that there are lots of who Muslims DO drink alcohol. For those that don’t (as well as all the other non-drinkers) wine is not a great gift, but the automatic assumption that Muslim = non-drinker could also offend some people.

  30. whosthat*

    I celebrate Christmas, but quite frankly do not have the time or interest in decorating my own office for it. It takes time that I don’t want to spend either putting up decorations or taking them down. It is hard enough to get my own house ready for the holidays! I’m glad I am not “expected” to make my office festive.

    We decorate the front office area where the admin sits. She’s a Muslim but doesn’t object because she recognizes that it is a public space. We keep it pretty generic though–snowflakes, lights, Happy Holidays kind of stuff.

    I wish we could all be a little more tolerant of other people’s situations. For one of my friends here int the office, this is a very hard time because her son was killed on Christmas a few years ago. We listen to her and express our support. She doesn’t expect us to shut down all our holiday celebrations because she’s sad, but we don’t expect her to join in and we don’t put it up in her face and keep harping on it. So far so good.

  31. Goya de la Mancha*

    The older I get, the more I become like Sheldon Cooper in the gift giving department…It’s becoming too much of a pain in the arse to try and gift something to someone, especially en masse with employee gifts. You can try to be fair, kind, and thoughtful – but someone is always going to be unhappy.

    This is coming from someone who is not a huge drinker and because of food allergies has to be very careful of what/where she eats/drinks in the first place.

  32. Megpie71*

    Suggestion for LW #1: if it’s possible, place the decorations where other people can see them, but you don’t have to. For example: on the front of the reception desk, below the counter top; on the wall behind you (particularly if you’re not looking there all the time – if you are looking there a lot, put them above your usual sight-line). There may be other places which are suitable in your reception space. Stick with “generic winter/summer[1] festival” colours (white and blue for winter, red and gold for summer) or whatever works well with the office decor, and keep things as minimalist as possible if you can – a few well-placed things will convey the “spirit of the season” just as effectively as drenching the place in tinsel, and create less of a headache for the cleaning staff as well (tinsel sheds).

    [1] Not everyone who is celebrating Christmas lives in the northern hemisphere, and for those of us in the global south, it’s summer at this time of year.

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