Office Gift Giving Dos and Don'ts


Man, the holidays bring a lot of dreadful experiences in the workplace! Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing time of year and while celebrating with co-workers can be fun, it also can be stressful. Last week I shared some tips on how to handle office Christmas parties. You can check out that post here. This week I am going to tackle office gift giving!


Before anything else…

It’s important to understand your company's policy on gifts. Many companies, large and small have rules about gift giving, there is often a dollar value limit and there may even be certain parameters on who can give gifts and even who can receive them at your organization. Be certain to understand those policies before you whip out your red hat and start ho, ho, ho-ing like Santa Claus!

So who should you give gifts to anyway? Here’s the etiquette on gifting to the people you work with based on the role they hold at your organization.


1 - The Boss

It’s not required that you give your boss a gift. In fact, many experts would agree that “gifting up” is rude and unnecessary. However, there may be many years of precedent in your organization where employees give the boss a gift.

If that’s the case then the rule of thumb is that a gift for the boss should be a group effort. In other words, do not go solo on getting your boss a gift! Someone on the team is bound to start a collection and that would be ok to participate in if you should choose.


2 - Your Peers

While you certainly don't need to get your peers a gift, you may want to! There may be people that you’ve formed a close bond with and want to give a gift to. That’s perfectly normal when you’re spending 40+ hours a week with someone!

If you want to give your coworker a gift, I suggest you do so discreetly, especially if you’re only getting some of your coworkers gifts!

Here's a tip on how to handle this - give everyone something. It could be a $5 giftcard to starbucks, some candy or something else inexpensive, or if the budget is really tight this year then I suggest you write everyone out a personal holiday card. This way you are handing something to everyone and the more special gifts you have for your few closest co-workers goes less noticed.

An ever better suggestion - exchange gifts with the select few outside of work so no one’s feelings get hurt!


3. Your Team

I highly recommend you show some token of appreciation to those that directly work for you. It’s something that people expect and it’s the courteous thing to do around the holidays.

You may be in a position to give bonuses, yay! Or individual gifts, still yay! Or maybe your team would enjoy an afternoon away from work having lunch together. Whatever you chose to do the key to giving your team gifts is equality. The above tips for co-workers will not work with those that report directly to you. You don’t want to give the impression that you favor one person over another. So keep it simple and equitable!


4. Your Clients

If you deal with clients in the workplace (after reading your company's gift giving guidelines) you may want to show gratitude for their business this holiday season. I suggest you give a modest token and don’t go overboard. Clients can see right through your attempts to show off and it’s just plain yucky.


4. Those that Support You

If there are administrative assistants that support your work it would be highly advisable to show them some generosity this holiday season. They may not report to you, but if they are organizing meetings, managing calendars or reports or just making sure the coffee pods are fully stocked and the copier is functioning then they deserve a HUGE debt of gratitude!

This is a situation where a group or individual gift would be appropriate and I encourage you to do either!


Some other important points to remember...


Remember Acts of Kindness - There may be other people that you work with who have given you incredible advice over the past year or really went out of their way to support you somehow. Remember these people at holiday time and take the opportunity to thank them for what they did for you.

Make it Beautiful - If you’re going to give a gift, give it with style! Pretty wrapping and attention to detail shows you care and can make even the smallest, inexpensive gift seem extra special.

Think Outside the Red Ribboned Box - There are many ways to show your appreciation other than a material gift. Have you thought about a day of volunteering together as a team instead of giving gifts? Maybe a donation to a charity your company supports in lieu of presents? There are many other ways you can celebrate the season without spending a fortune and you might be surprised how many people would enjoy an alternative to gift giving if you just mention your idea!

Smile and be Thankful - remember it’s a gift! There's no requirement for your boss, your co-workers, or anyone else to give you a gift. So try practicing a little gratitude. You may not know what someone else’s situation is and if all they hand over is a nicely written card, then smile and say thank you. If you get a bottle of cheap wine, smile and say thank you(what’s so bad about that anyway!) If your bonus is less than last year, smile and say thank you. If you get nothing at all, smile and say thank you. Oh, and mean it ;)


Thank you for reading!