Holiday Tips: Office Gift-Giving Dos and Don'ts

August 16, 2017

By Erika Napoletano

As the office manager, you have a lot on your plate – especially while preparing for the holidays in the office. Often it's the office manager's role to organize internal gift-giving. Use these quick do and don't holiday tips to help you and others in the office find the perfect gift for a colleague.

Do Work Within Your Office Gift Policy

Know the rules before you shop and share them with others in your department or team to make sure everyone's on the same page. If you're unsure of the rules, a quick trip to human resources can help clarify anything that's unclear.

Do Make Gifts for Groups of People Shareable or of the Same Value

If you're asked to buy a gift for a group, you can't go wrong with a gourmet food basket or tower that everyone can enjoy. If you decide to distribute gifts to individuals in a team, be sure that they're of equal value, such as an assortment of gift cards of the same denomination.

Do Make Gifts Personal

When shopping for a gift for a specific team member or friend, get them something that matches their personality. Fresh stationery and tech gadgets appeal to a wide range of personalities.

If you're tasked with purchasing gifts for employees you're not familiar with, ask around and see what co-workers might recommend for a recipient you don't know as well.

Do Make Your Gifts Functional

Gifts that the recipient can use regularly always go over big. Shopping for a road warrior? Try a travel accessory. Know a co-worker is environmentally conscious? Consider a customized, reusable tote or water bottle. Think about what a particular person on your list might use every day, and start your shopping there.

Do Consider Dietary Restrictions

If you're considering food gifts or baking at home, don't forget that there might be people in your office with dietary restrictions. Consider picking up a vegetarian option to go with your homemade, meat-filled dish, or even a gluten-free dessert to complement your homemade delicacy.

Don't Overspend

It's easy to get caught up in the idea of the perfect gift and get tempted to go over your budget, but sticking to a budget lets valuable team members know that they're all valued equally.

Don't Skip Out on the Gift Exchange

Gifts might not be your thing, but they can be someone else's. An officewide gift exchange, like a secret Santa or white elephant exchange, is about an entire team having fun. Encourage others to participate by reminding them it's about the team getting together and having fun.

Don't Be Tempted to Be Inappropriate

It's still an office, and the office gift exchange isn't the place to focus on that private joke you share with a trusted co-worker. Avoid the temptation to go the gag-gift route and focus on sincerity.

Don't Forget to be Sensitive About the Feelings of People Not on Your List

While you might only be close enough with a few co-workers to exchange a gift with them, don't forget the feelings of people who may be hurt they weren't included on your list. When your list is short, consider giving gifts away from the office, such as at lunch or happy hour, to keep all spirits riding high.

Don't Forget That Your Boss Is Your Boss

If you're considering buying a gift for your boss, keep all the dos above in mind along with a special don't: Don't go overboard on your boss's gift. The holiday gift exchange isn't the place to jockey for a promotion or apologize for a missed deadline back in February. You can do something meaningful and special, but keep it on par with your other holiday gift budgets.

With these holiday tips, your office holiday gift-giving efforts are bound to be appreciated, and the experience will be a much smoother experience. An early start means more time to select the most thoughtful gifts possible and avoid last-minute gifts that are more about the gift and less about the thought.

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