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You Asked: Can I Exclude One of Our Friends?

Dear Sugar,

I organized a Secret Santa among a group of friends this year. On exchange day, everyone received something and it went off well, however, one participant received a gift that she clearly didn't like. She complained publicly about every aspect of the gift and her Secret Santa was quite upset by this. I'll be organizing the event again next year and I wanted to ask you if it would be OK to exclude this girl. And if so, how would I go about doing that? — Poor Manners Molly

To see DearSugar's answer


Dear Poor Manners Molly,

I'm sorry to hear that your friend was disappointed in her gift; it sounds like she had a base case of speaking before thinking. While I'm sure her reaction made everyone at the gift exchange uncomfortable, I don't think it's your place to say anything — the woman whose gift she was bashing should let her know how it made her feel.

I don't blame you for not wanting to include her next year, but realize that leaving her out could hurt her feelings and possibly affect your friendship. Hopefully, after a little chat between your two friends, she'll realize how inconsiderate her words were and that it's really the thought that counts, not the gift.


Join The Conversation
myystque myystque 8 years
Wow, Mesayme, you're sure reading a lot into this situation and some of your comments are uncalled for. What's wrong with asking for advice on a situation? Not everybody instinctively knows how to handle difficult and/or awkward situations by themselves. That doesn't make someone rude. Also, as someone who HAS participated in friend (and family) gift exchanges, I think it is often a good solution for people who are on a budget or who just think the idea is a fun one. No need to go around disparaging other people's customs. Personally, I think Molly should ask the gift giver and/or other girls what they think, and if they are also offended, someone should speak to the girl and ask her not to behave that way next year or to exclude herself.
Marci Marci 8 years
I wouldn't just exclude her. I would actually speak directly to her and say 'You didn't seem to enjoy the whole Secret Santa thing this year, so would you rather not participate next year?' This makes it clear to her that her behavior and dissatisfaction was noted. And if she says yes to being involved next year, then you can mention that everyone was upset at how she reacted to the gift so that she has the choice of not participating or not being part of it but not really repeating that behavior next year.
candace87 candace87 8 years
I would have said to her "Well, if you don't like it then don't participate next year." and let her know that her behaviour is disgusting. You do NOT complain about something that is given to you. If someone gave it to you.. GAVE.. for FREE, who cares? Keep it to yourself. Even if it is that bad, knowing that the person that gave the gift is in the room.. and still being that rude, is just apalling. What awful manners.
margokhal margokhal 8 years
I'd talk to the whiner privately about why she blew such a fuse. Maybe it was a one-time thing; her day could have been going badly and she was being an ingrate unintentionally about the SS gift. Here's a Better Idea: Why not host a short white elephant party instead of doing Secret Santa next year, and just set a gift price limit? There's no particular person to buy for [which saves a lot of hassle trying to figure out the person you're buying for without being obvious and possibly getting them wrong], you just bring a present and pick up one [or randomly choose an order to pick from whatever presents are available]. There's no reason to be upset about the gift you get! And they're a LOT easier to organize. ;)
vmruby vmruby 8 years
Ya know that's just the way it is when it comes to being a part of the secret santa game and I think she knew that,just like she knew that she was purposely hurting the gifter's feelings by mouthing off about it.It's obvious that she's very spoiled and totally lacks some serious people skills.I wouldn't totally exclude her without talking to her about it first and letting her know that her embarrassing reaction to the gift was an absolutely sh*tty thing to do to her friend.At the very least give her the chance to try and redeem herself before you completely write her off. Clue her in about her childish handling of the situaion, tell her that if she wants to be a part of it next year then she's going to have to accept the gift like it or not, shut her piehole,be gracious, and move on.If she doesn't think she can handle it, then at that point I would inform her that she can definitely consider herself excluded from any future secret santa exchanges until she grows up and learns how not to treat her friends.
clareberrys clareberrys 8 years
I think you should include her. This [sort of] happened last year with my boyfriend's sister. We did a gift swap and him and I got her and her husband. WELL she had specific things chosen and we got her exactly what she wanted and then she made a huge fuss about how she didn't like it and had to return it. It made us really unhappy and everyone else too. Well this year instead of doing a gift exchange the normal way we did a "white elephant" exchange. I don't know if you've ever done one but they are really fun. First you set a price limit (we did $50 - it's usually not supposed to be that much, but whatever) then everyone goes out and buys a gift. it doesn't have to be a gift for a specific person it can be something anyone would like OR you can have a certain person in mind while buying it. Then you all get together and put all the wrapped gifts in the middle. Each person takes a number and you choose in order of numbers. Well each person can either choose a gift from the pile or take something from someone else. You go in order until everyone hsa a gift and of course you can do inside trading at the very end. It's a lot of fun and that way no one's feelings really get hurt!
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
Sucker punch her and exclude her. Nothing more disgusting then someone not being grateful.
frieddumpling frieddumpling 8 years
Exclude her by not asking her, plain and simple. (However, I don't know how BAD the gift was because no details were included --> if everyone spent the same amount of money ex. $20 or whatever your group has agreed upon, I wouldn't complain even if it was a very bad gift like something I totally would not use. However, if it was a cheap gift, then I would be complaining. So before you decide to exclude her, I think be more objective and not to just blindly side with friends that you're closer with in terms of whether it was indeed reasonable for her to complain.) If she asked about the secret santa eventually, just tell her that names has been drawn already and that she can participate next year. It sounds like she's not the type of person that would enjoy a secret santa anyway, because you don't expect someone to get you something that you were exactly hoping for because the person who picks your name might not know you that well. The wish list idea is great, but kind of defeats the point for me because it's almost like a shopping list and I might as well spend my own money to buy the gift for myself. You know what, if she didn't like the gift this year (and probably feels like she got ripped off if the other person enjoyed her gift), she might even be glad that she doesn't have to participate. Sometimes, people participate in a secret santa even though they might not really want to just because someone asked.
smarler smarler 8 years
I agree with GlowingMoon - if each participant includes a list of things they like, (or even just interests - "I like picture frames and the smell of vanilla") then at least the person can have an idea. Depending on how close you are to this friend, I think it's appropriate to mention her inconsiderate behavior (in private, of course). Sometimes it sucks to be that person, but I expect my closest friends to tell me when I'm being rude. If they won't, who will?
queenlizzie queenlizzie 8 years
It sounds like she was either expecting too much or didn't want to participate in the first place. Make it opt-in next year and make the rules extremely clear (dollar limit, being a good sport, etc.). You might also want to consider giving likes/dislikes along with the names. Also tell everyone participation is optional, and if they don't want to participate, no hard feelings. If this seems like too much work, maybe you should reconsider whether this is really important. Instead of spending your time organizing a gift giving fiasco, you should donate your time and money to a worthy cause.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
that really sucks that the girl wasn't able to keep her thoughts to herself. when you have a gift exchange, it's not always going to be likely that you'll get something that you love - and that's just part of life. i think that the two friends need to have a conversation, and hopefully next year if you guys do decide to do secret santa, then maybe she'll realize what's the appropriate way to act ....
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
Perhaps next year, you will have each participate include a wish list? The wish list could be a list of three items, and have some sort of price limit. Maybe this would avoid anybody being disgruntled.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
I had to reread's not even at work. It's even worst... A bunch of friends exchanging gives to one friend so that they don't have to give gifts to each one. It she's 'a friend' that's complaining knowing a friend gave it to her then she's probably the biggest brat in the group regardless. You don't sound like that good of a friend yourself Molly. You sound like the controlling friend who causes distinction among the ranks to make sure you stay the favorite friend. Sneaky and wrong. Adult women should not assume that they have some kind of parental rights over their friends- you just stop being friends with them. Talk to your friend about her, instead of 'about her' to strangers. That's rude if you ask me...and you did.
Mesayme Mesayme 8 years
It's amazing how far we've come in America. From fighting for freedom from Britain to civil rights to no-censorship ranting from the entertainment business to a woman openly complaining about pretty much anything is a bitch. Maybe she got a cheap gift or something ridiculous *which Molly conveniently left out*... she obviously got someone a nice gift *since she's the only one Molly is bitching about*. She's out the money and a nice gift. If I were her I wouldn't participate next year without the high school-esque exclusion. I always thought that stuff shouldn't be done at work anyway, she'd be taunted even if she didn't participate let alone badgered for complaining. A more professional thing to do is to collect money for a charity since you obviously all have a job.
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 8 years
I've been that person before - the one complaining about the gift. I didn't realize how much of an awful person I was being until someone let me know. At that point, I stopped and apologized to them and the person who gave the gift. I also realized that I'm not a Secret Santa person so I don't participate in them anymore. Maybe your friend doesn't know how bad she sounds. I'd say have a conversation with her about how it really sucked that she didn't like her gift and how her complaining made others uncomfortable. If she feels the need to apologize to the gift giver, that's up to her. Next year, before sending the invites, ask her if she wants to participate in the SS (maybe even citing the previous year's debaucle) or if she just wants to come for the party.
krae85 krae85 8 years
I'm not sure why you didn't stop it while it was happening. I'd have said, hey, everyone spent time and money on our secret santa gifts, so let's be grateful and not make any unkind comments. Don't make things complicated, just be open about it now and tell her that kind of conduct is unacceptable.
jazzytummy jazzytummy 8 years
What a b!tch. Exclude her. If she asks, tell her why...I guarantee if there is a next time she'll keep her inconsiderate mouth shut and not act like a spoiled 5 year old. Like she didn't know the person who picked out the gift was sitting right there? Give me a break!! She doesn't sound like someone I would want to be friends with myself, so no loss. I can't believe ANYONE would want to have her involved in anything festive. Sorry to disagree, sugar.
stumbler02 stumbler02 8 years
I agree with Sugar. The complaining friend was inconsiderate and that problem does need to be addressed, but excluding her from next year's event is going about it the wrong way. Instead you should encourage the person who gave her the gift to tell her how hurt she is by her complaints. As the event organizer, you shouldn't get in the middle of what is really a quarrel between 2 friends. Invite her to next year's event if you want to, otherwise don't. But don't exclude her because of the other girl's hurt feelings. That's meddling/taking sides.
hope2be hope2be 8 years
I've never done the organizing of Secret Santa thing, so I don't know much. But maybe you can talk to your friend who complained if you'd like. To kind of curb any unkind response if she doesn't like her gift, and maybe offer an exchange/trade gift? Also, next year instead of excluding her (but it's going to be another year before it's going to happen again, so maybe she'll be out of your circle of friends by then so you don't have to plan on excluding her just yet), how about you guys..make like ...a 'theme' on what gift to buy. So it can be like...'beauty' or 'fashion' and everyone gets to write a wish list what they want for the price you guys set (for example: 20 bucks to 30 bucks) in that theme. Plus maybe if it doesn't work out well for the recipient, the giver can put stubs that enable the gift to be refunded/exchanged at the store bought, so no one should be stuck with a gift they don't want... Unless that's how you've done it and it still doesn't work. So I dunno what else to suggest LOL. Good luck to you.
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