'My co-workers are pressuring me into a Christmas gift swap, but I can't afford it.'

December is one of the most budget-breaking months of the year. There are parties, food, gifts and a seemingly endless supply of unexpected costs.

One woman found herself pushed to breaking point after her colleagues refused to believe she couldn’t participate in their gift exchange.

The 32-year-old told the anonymous forum of Reddit, she had been asked to join a five-person gift swap as well as contribute to present funds for her managers.

(Related content: Feeling the pinch? Here are some budget tips)

“It started with an email. One of the managers was collecting money to get a gift for the HEAD manager, and instructed that the money be left for her in an envelope on her desk with our name clipped to it,” she wrote.

“A few days went by, and I did not contribute anything because quite honestly, I don’t have anything.”

The woman went on to explain how the manager went on to confront her about her lack of contribution.

“I explained to her that money has been tight and that I wasn’t able to contribute. I expected understanding, but instead she got kind of huffy with me and said, ‘Well just so you KNOW, we do this every year and (manager) does something for each employee in the office,'” she said.

Monique Bowley shares her tip for the perfect present to get someone this Christmas on Mamamia Out Loud. (Post continues after audio.)

A separate gift exchange with five co-workers was also said to add to her mounting financial stress.

“Even if we are doing $10 a person, that’s about $50 that I do not have,” she wrote.

The struggling worker shared the reactions of her colleagues once she announced she would not be participating.

“They all got quiet and the one from before said, ‘But I already got you something,’ and another spoke up and said, ‘It’s only $10 a person.'”

The woman ended the post by asking readers to share how she could navigate the situation without further alienation.

“We have already embarrassingly had to explain to our family and friends not to expect much more than a card this year because of our financial situation, and now I’m being guilted for not wanting to participate, she said.” (Post continues after gallery.)


Readers encouraged the woman to try her best to ignore the pressure without reacting.

“These women do not sound like reasonable people. Stick to your guns, just tell them sorry, can’t afford that right now. I think it’s a bit ridiculous to do 5 exchanges a year, my office for a consulting firm doesn’t even do that shit,” one reader wrote.

“If they try to guilt you into participating by saying they already got you something, tell them that you’re sorry to inconvenience them and perhaps can return it or maybe donate it to charity if they prefer. Say you understand if you don’t receive anything this year since you won’t be participating but you really appreciate the thought. Say all of this with cheerful confidence and pretend you can’t even tell that you’re pissing them off,” wrote another.

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