• Christina Butler

The Top 5 Things to Know about Gifts at the Office

Leading up to the holidays, you’ll likely find yourself in the gift-giving spirit. That’s great for friends and family, but what about at the office? Let’s break down the etiquette on gifting where you work.

1. Should you get presents for your coworkers?

This can vary company to company, and some companies have written policies on giving gifts. If your company does allow it, there is nothing wrong with a small but thoughtful gift for a coworker. There are a couple guidelines here, though. Remember how your teacher used to say if you didn’t have enough for the whole class, leave it at home? That’s kind of like professional gifting. If you work on a team and choose to give gifts, make sure you aren’t leaving anyone out if you do it on company time. Many departments choose to initiate a Secret Santa exchange to avoid any should-I/shouldn’t I awkwardness.

2. What about your boss?

Generally speaking, gifts come from above. That doesn’t mean you cannot give your boss something if you have a close relationship, though. If you are not on a “friend-level” with your manager but would still like to share the holiday spirit, you can organize a group gift and have everyone chip in.

3. How do I know what the perfect gift is?

The perfect gift follows the same professional standards as your professional behavior: don’t be too personal, don’t be sexually/religiously/lifestyle inappropriate, and be considerate. Does your coworker show up with coffee from a particular place each morning? Try a bag of grounds, a mug, or a gift card there. Know your office-mate hits the gym after she clocks out? A nice sport water bottle would be acceptable, but a sports bra or anything she would wear would not be. The key is to keep it professional with a side of personal.

Can you eat it? Chances are if you can, you’re good.

4. What if you decide not to give any gifts, but your coworker gives you one?

If a coworker gives you a gift and you do not have one in return, the most important thing to do is thank them. There is no requirement for you to show up the next day with a gift for them. However, if you are new to the office and not sure what to expect around the holidays consider keeping a stash of small, generic gifts in your desk. Think candy wrapped nicely.

5. When should you absolutely NOT give a gift in the business setting?

Do you expect something professionally in return for a gift? For example – do you want to earn bonus points with your boss by giving him or her a lavish gift? If so –stop right now and put down the wrapping paper. The other time to not give a gift is if it goes against your company culture.


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