Giving money is tacky. We should give thoughtful gifts that we spent a lot of time thinking about and searching for. Or better yet, we should make something handmade. Knit something, perhaps, or the good old plate of Christmas goodies.
Wrong, says Jenée on Twitter.
I strongly believe that people who provide services to you and make less money than you do not want your baked goods, mugs w/ a packet of hot chocolate mix wrapped in cellophane, or candles for Christmas. They want your cash! They do not care that it's impersonal. At all.-- Jenée (@jdesmondharris) December 19, 2018
I'm inclined to agree with her. Look, I like baked goods and hand knits as much as the next person, but that doesn't mean it's what other people want for Christmas. (In fact, I actually probably like baked goods more than the next person, but that's a diet problem and not a gift problem.)
Twitter was also inclined to agree with her:
Another mug (with a plastic sachet of hot chocolate) is waste. Pure waste. Why do gifters insist on giving things that will end up in landfill instead of actual help. Also, The key to this post is "people who earn more than me".-- Michael Duffy (@GatsbysCar) December 19, 2018
My gmother, back in the 50s/60s was a secretary for a wealthy lawyer and he used to give her a giant box of chocolates for Xmas. So proud because he picked it up himself. His law partners eventually told him "She has 4 kids, she needs $$$!" Had never occurred to him.-- Tori (@vitawash) December 20, 2018
I LOVED getting grocery store gift cards when I was in the classroom! Definitely my most appreciated gift next to cash.-- gaby brabazon (@gab_brab) December 20, 2018
Some people even brought up some sexist experiences they'd had with Christmas gifts instead of cash:
I used to have a colleague who would give all female subordinates chocolate and all male subordinates cash because "guys don't like chocolate." I suggested that was sexist and that she should let folks choose instead. She did.-- Matt (@ChesapeakeMatt) December 20, 2018
Every single person chose cash. Without hesitation.
Why on earth anyone would think this is okay is beyond me but others chimed in with similar stories.
Now, of course, you're not obligated to give gifts to anyone, but if you choose to do so, you should give something that the person could actually use or you know they want. And for people who do provide service, like your cleaning lady or your hairdresser, you should budget for a cash gift at year end. Think of it as a year-end bonus, just like you'd want your boss to give you.
Now, if you just love baking, of course it's okay to give your administrative assistant a plate of your famous cinnamon rolls, but she'd also like a grocery store gift card to go with it.
And bosses, remember, you shouldn't expect a gift from your direct reports. No hinting, and if they give you something better than a small, cheap, group gift, you should politely decline. Like it or not, there's a hierarchy and gifts go down, not up.
This is not to say that objects are never appropriate. Of course, they are, but as with Janee's original tweet, if someone earns substantially less than you do, they probably would prefer cash over a new mug.