Secret Santa Gifts: Keeping Them Scent-Free

Having recently started a new job, all the new staff were assigned to be on the holiday party committee. I was suddenly struck with a twinge of panic, of gosh, I need to be responsible for games, food, and other activities. I then discovered that the expectation for this party was high. Woah!

Of course working in non-profit means that we needed to get creative with a limited budget for food, decor, games, prized and extras. Being newbies, we were mostly a bunch of people with great ideas but not a lot of historical knowledge of the organization, it turns out that this organization takes the holiday party seriously. The games, the food need to be on point. There was the constraint of a tiny budget, big ideas, and a lot of holiday spirit. One day I had a conversation with a colleague about a mystery box of items that could be used for prizes, as you can imagine, some items were more desirable than others. While I tried to muster up professional enthusiasm for this box, all I could see was the large number of smelly (fragrant) body projects. Yikes! I am sure that these items were lovely and high quality but all I could think of was this giant box of triggers and how can I make a quick escape out of this storage room.

I stared at a large box of smelly, overly fragrant items. How do I tell people that this may be giant box of triggers and perhaps be can use some different prizes or have them in an area that was safe for all? Oh gosh, was I going to have to have the conversation about asthma, in particular about asthma and triggers. Oh, jeez, I really wasn’t in the position to have this conversation especially with someone that I barely knew. This was also going to break my “need to know” basis for sharing information about my asthma situation at the office.

We were also planning a gift exchange. It turns out that people are very excited about this and as many of my fellow asthmatics know. When gift exchange budgets are tiny, people are fond of small, smelly things, candles, room decor, things that can be spritzed. How can we have a conversation about guiltiness for gifts? It tuns out, you can just have the conversation that people should be mindful that some items may be delightful for one but an allergen for others. It turns out that people are sometimes not aware that fragrances can be triggers, if you explain that someone may feel ill people feel thankful for the information. As a planning committee member, I had this chat with my colleagues and we came up with a plan to use the fragrant items for a different purpose and keep the party fragrant free. We even included a little message about being mindful that some items considered delightful are hazardous.

Interestingly enough, our small but mighty staff team has a high level of dietary restrictions and this can be viewed the same light. Let’s just keep everyone safe. So what can you bring to your office secret Santa exchange, I highly recommend the power of the gift card, scent free and generally loved.

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