Robert Maxwell wrote:
I used to be bothered by the concept of obligatory gift-giving. This type of thing only happened at work. I thought, "If I gave Co-Worker #2 a Christmas present, then I'd have to get something for Co-Workers #3, #4, and #5 as well, so they wouldn't get offended or left out." Then I realized how silly it was. Gift-giving was not a popularity contest; it should come from the heart. Now I give presents only to those people I really like and have enjoyed working with all year long.
This is why people just do gift exchanges. You want a gift, you sign up for the exchange and get one for someone else. You don't want a gift, you don't want the obligation, don't sign up. Easy.
We used to do that in the office, too. We'd set a maximum value of, say, $25 per gift. But after awhile, people got tired of getting scammed. My boss, in particular, was quite unhappy whenever he got undesirable presents (of less than $20, etc.). Some complained about getting "sexist" gifts; e.g., women's jewelry for a guy, or men's toolset for a female employee. One year, it got to a point where my boss required everyone to actually bring a receipt as proof of purchase, reflecting the actual dollar amount.
Boy, was that a bad idea. It couldn't be helped, but some people didn't want to play by the rules. We haven't done a gift exchange in about five years ...