Below is a recounting of an actual Secret Santa gift exchange experience that I encountered while working in an office. This is a true story!
Back in 1998, I was working at a computer parts manufacturer in the Tampa Bay area as a receptionist/switchboard operator. It was my 2nd real job in an office and I was learning the ropes of the professional environment. The office manager went around asking employees to participate in the Secret Santa gift exchange before the holiday break. It was my first time doing so, but I was game. I thought it would be fun to purchase a gift secretly for a co-worker.
We were all given the rules and criteria: you were to spend no more than $50 for the gift. You had to have the gift wrapped and if you participated, you had to buy someone else a gift. The rules were simple enough and I drew a name of a woman who I knew loved arts in crafts, so I bought her a scrapbooking kit from Michaels.
I was due to drive to St. Louis for the holidays so I ended up leaving my gift on her desk the day before Christmas Eve. We were all supposed to exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, which was a half day in our office. I figured when I got back to the office after the holidays, I would have a gift waiting for me.
I spent the holidays in St. Louis, then my then 4 year old son and I made the 18 hour trek back to Florida. When I arrived back to the office, there was a shiny red box wrapped on my desk.
I was so excited that I began ripping away at the gift. After I discarded the wrapping paper, I opened the apparel box and was shocked at the contents—inside was a black lace neglige with matching panties. Lingerie!?
I instantly put the lace items back in the box and closed it. I was so embarrassed! I began looking around the office to see who would’ve purchased such an inappropriate gift for me. No one had ever flirted with me in the office or shown me that they were interested so the gift was a shock. I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
I went home and took my gift with me and it stayed in my drawer for years. I never wore it because I felt like it was nasty. Even though it was a nice lace gift from Victoria’s Secret. It also still had the price tags on it and cost more than the $50 limit.
I was obviously working with a freak nasty!
Later when I began working as a HR manager, I made sure to indicate in the Secret Santa rules that the gift had to be appropriate for office employees. A gift like that could be considered sexual harassment.
Do you have any Secret Santa gaffes to share? Have you ever received an inappropriate Secret Santa gift?