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About this work birthday collection.....

(56 Posts)
maddiemookins16mum Mon 18-Feb-19 19:18:50

I work in an office of about 65 people.
There are various teams who sit together (6 teams in total) and there is me and another lady who are our own team but we work very closely with the other teams in a support role. Without us, their roles would be much harder but we are all on the same level, just different aspects of our business.
When it’s someones birthday, the team that the birthday person is on do a collection for them, decorate their desk and get some gifts. The average collection is £30/£40.
It’s the first birthday of my colleague (let’s call her L) on our ‘team of two’ since I’ve been there and she mentioned last week she was going out on this Saturday night just gone for her birthday (this was yesterday btw).
So last week I put the feelers out about ‘what is done’ re collections and nobody really seemed interested. For full disclosure, I tolerate my colleague and we’ll never be good friends but we work ok together.
Our Line Manager also mentioned it was L’s birthday and I said I’d got a card and had passed it to the teams for those who wanted to sign it.
The card made it’s way back with about 16 signatures. No money was forthcoming whatsoever from a single person.
So I had two choices, get L decent presents (like everyone else gets) or stick the card and a £2 bar of Galaxy on her desk.

I’ve ended up spending about £25 on presents, mentioned it to those who signed the card and was met with ‘oh lovely, she’ll like that’ etc etc.

I just feel a bit hard done by and really don’t want to have to repeat this next year.

I didn’t even spend £25 on my own DP’s birthday last year!

AuntMarch Mon 18-Feb-19 19:20:39

I wouldn't have done it. I'd have given the group card, and a small gift with a separate card that showed it was from me.

Funkyslippers Mon 18-Feb-19 19:24:55

That's crazy that the teams have a collection for everyone's birthday! We don't even do a card for birthdays anymore as trying to get everyone to sign became a right pain in the arse as we don't really have a 'base' as such. Someone tried to do a collection for a birthday recently and didn't really get anywhere as it wasn't fair on everyone else as noone else gets a gift

Namechangeforthiscancershit Mon 18-Feb-19 19:26:46

We do a collection on birthdays, though only a couple of quid each. It is a faff but it’s nice for team building, and we wouldn’t let anyone be left out.

Do you know what happened before you joined?

Seniorcitizen1 Mon 18-Feb-19 19:55:41

You should have posted before you spent £25 rather than after so you could act on the advice. For future I wouldn’t do anything about colleagues’ b/days

MakeItRain Mon 18-Feb-19 19:59:42

Well you've done it now so just enjoy giving it to her. I wouldn't worry about next year yet. See what happens on your birthday. You might well get a card and a bar of chocolate then you can do that next year too!

Pinkyyy Mon 18-Feb-19 20:08:57

There's too many of you to be doing birthday collections, I'd opt out. That's more than one birthday a week. If you gave £1 to each collection, you'd be paying more than £60 a year on presents for colleagues who don't even work in your department.

maddiemookins16mum Mon 18-Feb-19 20:25:54

I just need to clarify, only the team that the birthday person is in puts in for their collection on the main teams. So Red team with 8 people only do the birthdays in that team throughout the year.
Blue team with 10 people etc etc.
Red team doesn’t also put in or sign cards for the other teams.
There are only two in our team, but we are the only ‘support’ staff in the dept.
So basically I’m thinking I should have just got her a card/small gift from me 😳😳

SB1013 Mon 18-Feb-19 20:34:14

Have you given the gift already? Otherwise is it something you can take back? It was a really lovely thing for you to do but i think some chocs or a bottle of prosecco would have been enough.

Millimollimandi Mon 18-Feb-19 20:39:53

Weird. In our organisation it is the line manager who organises the card and present - you should have not have felt responsible for this.

ViolaD77 Mon 18-Feb-19 22:17:24

We have this all the time at work. Might Aswell set up a direct debit cos its always someone's birthday, someone's ill, baby, wedding, funeral etc. I'd of got her a small gesture from yourself. If she was expecting something from the whole office and doesn't she'll get the hint. Not nice I know but these things get out of hand 😐

talktoo Mon 18-Feb-19 22:35:01

So every team looks after their own team members. And you are a small team of 2. But you felt that one of the other teams should contribute to your team because you are a small support team? Is that it? Do you contribute to that team's collections? If not then YABU.

Guineapiglet345 Mon 18-Feb-19 22:48:46

I stopped putting into these because it was just too much, when the collection comes around now I just ‘don’t have any cash on me’.

I always make sure my manager knows I don’t want a collection for my birthday either, I go to work to earn money, not spend it.

JustTwoMoreSecs Tue 19-Feb-19 00:01:49

Do you contribute to that team's collections? If not then YABU
Good point

NotANotMan Tue 19-Feb-19 00:17:49

Do you and other lady contribute to other teams' birthday collections? Because if you do then stop. Return the £25 of gifts and buy her a fancy cupcake. Set the expectations low now so you don't set yourself up!

CSIblonde Tue 19-Feb-19 00:36:22

I've temped all over the place on maternity cover contracts for years & birthday presents have never been the norm. Anywhere. Cards only. What muppet thought that one up. It's a minefield if you have personality clashes or backstabbing office culture.

Ihavealwaysknown Tue 19-Feb-19 01:18:43

We work in a team of 8 and each year you draw a person to be in charge of birthday present (I guess a bit like secret Santa) for £20 max. You then buy the card and get everyone to sign it, and hand gift over. It just meant people weren’t forever being hounded to give money over (there’s 5 of us all born in May/June)

maddiemookins16mum Tue 19-Feb-19 06:26:07

Yes we do contribute to the other teams collections, otherwise I’d have never sent the card over to the teams in the first place.

Parky04 Tue 19-Feb-19 06:34:11

Collections are a pain in the arse. We do it for major birthdays, marriage, maternity and leaving.

Justgivemesomepeace Tue 19-Feb-19 06:35:12

We have a birthday club. We £3 a month in. It means on your birthday you get gifts to the value of £36. not all the team chose to be in it so it means if you dont want to be contributing to collections all the time you dont have to without looking like scrooge, and if you like a bit of a fuss on your birthday you get one. Works really well for us.

Aridane Tue 19-Feb-19 06:43:02

I wouldn't like let that enforced present giv No

Horsemenoftheaclopalypse Tue 19-Feb-19 06:43:46

I hate that I am dating this but

you did the smart/right thing - yes it’s bullshit but it keeps the status quo.
Honestly if you like your job, The last thing you need is a weird grudge being held against you (and this sort of thing does happen because offices are weird).

Your birthday will come and she’ll either do the same (which is fine?), nothing or something small (in which case a new precedent is set)

Purplecatshopaholic Tue 19-Feb-19 06:45:30

We stopped doing cards and birthday things last year as it was just getting silly, there were cards and collections constantly!

topcat2014 Tue 19-Feb-19 06:54:19

We do cards for 'milestones' - recently had 3 60ths, but nothing else.

No children have cropped up see age of teams above

I personally buy the whole office an Easter egg, but that is one of my quirks smile, and is £30 once a year.

AlwaysCheddar Tue 19-Feb-19 06:55:47

Sorry but you’re a fool. Get get the galaxy. Why do you spend more on the colleague you barely tolerate than your husband?! That’s just nuts

CallMeSirShotsFired Tue 19-Feb-19 07:01:32

Every place I've worked, it's been the birthday person who brings in the cakes and people just say Happy Birthday.

All this ridiculous social pressure to be in birthday clubs and provide presents is just way ott. It usually boils down to everyone just being too wimpy to say "hang on a minute, this is ridiculous"

JenniferJareau Tue 19-Feb-19 07:05:04

Last company I worked at they no longer do collections at work, people complained as they felt there was too much pressure to give money they didn't have or contribute to someone they barely knew or didn't much like. If you are in a large team it can mount up over the course of an year.

When I started there I didn't have much money and felt under pressure so I just pretended to put some money in the envelope as my electricity bill was more important that a present or gifts for maternity leave. And no, I was never on the receiving end of any of these gifts.

Iloveacurry Tue 19-Feb-19 07:08:27

You should of just done the card, and perhaps a small gift from yourself, not £25 worth.

Also I’d stop contributing to the other groups collection when it comes around. They’re obviously not bothered about you two ...

thedogattacksthetissuebox Tue 19-Feb-19 07:08:59

I wouldn't have done it. I'd have given her a card and maybe some chocolates from me but that's it. I probably would have said something too, and I wouldn't contribute in future to other people's.

maddiemookins16mum Tue 19-Feb-19 07:18:13

As much as we aren’t close, I get on far better with lots of others, I’d have never seen her go without a present and the whole desk decorated malarky too (but we have an office birthday draw of stuff and it’s an ongoing joke within the entire floor as too how long we can make a bunch of balloons last). I guess I just felt it would be a bit unfair for her (long time employee) to kind of not have the same fuss made as everyone else.

PalmTree101 Tue 19-Feb-19 07:21:17

Time to stop with the annual gift giving.

And tell your boss you need to be reimbursed.

Margot33 Tue 19-Feb-19 07:24:46

Most places I've worked at, the birthday person brings in cakes. I wouldn't have spent £25 of my own money on a workmates birthday gift. A box of chocolates would have been nice. But you did a very nice thing, I do think that you should have said that the gift was just from you though. Cannot believe noone chipped in?!

DerelictWreck Tue 19-Feb-19 07:26:18

Did you actually ask the other team you support to add to a collection? Seems like you sent a card and hoped they would send it back with cash?

Bananasarenottheonlyfruit Tue 19-Feb-19 07:28:25

What has been done for her birthday in previous years?
You do know that when your birthday comes around, no one is going to reciprocate? And then you will feel mightily pissed off!

It sounds like you tried to change a dynamic here. They collect and do gifts within each team and you tried to do it for someone outside their teams. I get that you support them, great, but you have your own team to do gifts within. They will just be smaller for a smaller team.

Hollanda Tue 19-Feb-19 07:30:27

We do collections for:

New babies
Milestone birthdays

I don't mind any of these things. Happy to give when I can. smile Normal birthdays get card only and birthday person brings cakes in. Works for us.

Janethevirgo Tue 19-Feb-19 07:30:54

You put the feelers out and no one seemed interested. I’m not sure why you are now surprised.
I’d have just done a private gift from myself

maddiemookins16mum Tue 19-Feb-19 07:32:09

The way it’s done is the card goes round in an A4 envelope with writing on the front ‘it’s L’s birthday on Sunday, any contributions welcome etc, please return to Maddiemoo in ourteamoftwo by Thursday 14 Feb’. When the other teams envelopes have come round, I’ve stuck a £2 coin in, it’s usually already got money in etc. L’s envelope came back empty.

Cuttingthegrass Tue 19-Feb-19 07:36:10

I think you need to have a word with manager and point out how unequal it is for your team of two and that you paid £25 yourself as didn’t want her to feel left out. The current system is bias and needs to change.

CalmdownJanet Tue 19-Feb-19 07:37:20

So you contribute to everyone else's gift in the team? If that's the case I would have said outright that you wanted the same money everyone else puts in, why wait for them to offer it up? You should have been more direct. They wouldn't get a penny next collection that's for sure.

I think you should have decorated the desk and bought the large bar and a cupcake with a candle, just signed a card from yourself and "Happy birthday Linda" then jokingly "sorry a team of two means smaller pressies" or similar

Margot33 Tue 19-Feb-19 07:40:12

See what happens when it's your birthday. If you get nothing then you know noone donated. If you get a bar of chocolate then its probably just from your collegue. When this happens you stop chipping in money to other teams collections.

Solina Tue 19-Feb-19 07:45:24

Did you put any money in to start the collection? I would have put in few pounds in to get others to add in. Might have worked.

I dont like collections though. We have similar set up, big team with smaller teams in it. The collections are never ending for babies and leaving gifts and big birthdays across all the teams. I usually dont carry money with me so dont add in any unless its someone I really like. Never have collection for normal birthdays though but I have bought gifts for my colleagues that I consider to be my friends and they for me but its not an collection.

DerelictWreck Tue 19-Feb-19 07:45:26


Do the other team know that you've both been contributing to theirs? Or perhaps your colleague hasn't been, and so they've decided to give nothing.

OffToBedhampton Tue 19-Feb-19 07:56:45

Send an email round "hi guys, L's birthday card has come back with no money in. I know people normally contribute just to their teams and sign others cards. But we are different as a small support team of 2 to all your team's so we have been contributing to all your collections. "

Then send card round again.

Voila. Either way only use money collected for L's birthday present. Return your gift if need be or you will resent it when you get a cupcake yourself.

You're in it together as a team of 2, it's not for you to subsidize 60 other thoughtless colleagues who could see 16 names and feel envelope was empty. Maybe you'll bond over it.

OffToBedhampton Tue 19-Feb-19 07:59:53

And if anyone asks about what you said you'd bought, just be honest.
"Well I had to buy it out of my money as no one out of 65 people in this office even contributed 10p. And I realised I couldn't afford it.
... as well as spend £60 a year contributing to all your collections. So I took it back."

Pinkyyy Tue 19-Feb-19 08:05:22

I completely agree with @OffToBedhampton 's suggestion

Janethevirgo Tue 19-Feb-19 08:05:50

Please do not speak to your manager about this.
The workplace collection is optional, no one needs to put in. The op put the feelers out and no one seemed interested . Just stop putting in for other people’s and if asked why be honest

JingsMahBucket Tue 19-Feb-19 08:05:50

YANBU. That was rather mean and stingy of your colleagues. What has happened on your birthday before? If it’s been a similar treatment, I would feel underappreciated. Definitely ask your manager to contribute maybe £15 from the office kitty, if one exists, to balance out your spend.

greendale17 Tue 19-Feb-19 08:07:01

*I personally buy the whole office an Easter egg, but that is one of my quirks smile, and is £30 once a year.*

^Love that smile

Janethevirgo Tue 19-Feb-19 08:07:38

I’m not saying it’s not unfair but you choose to spend £25 on a gift for something you tolerate and you didn’t have to.

Charley50 Tue 19-Feb-19 08:08:10

Blimey! You could have got her a £5 bunch of tulips from Tesco and she would have been chuffed. Can't understand why you spent £25 tbh.

downcasteyes Tue 19-Feb-19 08:15:40

Oh, aren't you lovely! I understand completely that you feel hard done by here (I think most of us would), but the fact that you did this not to upset your colleague comes from a really kind and sweet place.

I would send the email to colleagues that OfftoBed mentions above. If nothing is forthcoming, when your birthday comes around, set a precedent by mentioning the collection issue and saying that it's fine just to get you a very small gift. At least that way you aren't locked in next year!

M4J4 Tue 19-Feb-19 08:52:09

Yes, if they don't celebrate your birthday then stop contributing to their collections!

JasperKarat Tue 19-Feb-19 09:00:50

Thing is you have one person in your team so didn't £25 at once, if you had 5 people in your team you'd still spend £25 just over a longer period when you cup in £5 or so which they must be to be buying £30 presents

JasperKarat Tue 19-Feb-19 09:02:52

Don't contribute to other team birthdays too!

JenniferJareau Tue 19-Feb-19 18:17:27

Current place of work, no one gives team gifts but often the birthday boy / girl brings in treats for the office.

caughtinanet Tue 19-Feb-19 18:35:04

That's crazy, stop contributing now, if anyone asks explain you can't afford it, there's no way for misunderstandings or need for elaborate excuses

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