I am so against the principle of office gift giving that I dislike the team lunch idea as well.
In spite of the fact that as being part of a team all concerned are in fact employed, many people are scraping by -- there could medical issues, personal debt, or other issues that co-workers are unaware that makes "a gift of $25-30" a bit hard to manage.
Many such gifts are impractical to receive or useless: if I own an iPod/iPhone, I probably have accessories already; do I really need another speaker to play my tunes out loud? And you raised a very good point about men living under the fear of a lawsuit should they choose the wrong words when speaking to a woman colleague - I can't think of many gifts that couldn't be taken as a double-entendre if someone *really* wanted to make a stink.
As for Team Lunches, while the idea is nice, it's often hard to actually socialize within the team -- you sit and chat with the people next to you/across from you, and that's all. Most times you're eating and then heading back to work -- was it really a productive 'team building' or 'appreciation'?
On the other hand, as I started a new position in October, I initially declined to partake in the gift-exchange, I've since given-in to the idea of making nice with the new team.
So I am not only a Scrooge in some people's eyes, but I am also a hypocrite.
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