Although it’s wonderful to exchange gifts during the holidays, the process can also be stressful. This is especially true if you aren’t sure about the protocol for gift-giving at work.
The nature of your interactions will dictate what kind of gift it’s appropriate for you to give.
If your coworker is someone you also consider a friend, or if you have a relationship with them outside of work, the gift you choose should be more personal.
If you have a strictly professional relationship with a colleague, you should choose an item that is more generic. If you don’t know someone very well, opt for something the recipient can use at work like a calendar or fancy pen set.
Here is a list of do’s and don’ts to help you choose appropriate gifts for your coworkers, boss, clients or employees.
Do remember the spirit of gift-giving. Remember that workplace gifts are generally meant to be tokens of appreciation, so keep things simple and relatively inexpensive.
Don’t choose gifts that are overly expensive; they can make other people in your office uncomfortable, make it look like you’re trying to buy your way into someone’s “good books”, or make the recipient feel like they have to reciprocate at the same level.
Do review your office rules. Make sure you’re not breaking any HR policies with your gift. If you’re not sure about your gift, go with something else – better safe than sorry!
Don’t make a show. If your company hasn’t organized a gift exchange and you’ve only got presents for some of the people you work with, exchange them discreetly to prevent others from feeling left out.
Do pay attention to their interests. Pay extra attention to your employees or colleagues’ lives outside of work in the lead up to the holidays. It could help you come up with great gift ideas.
Don’t play favourites – especially if you’re a manager. If you’re considering getting gifts, make sure your get everyone on your team a little something. If you have a relationship with one of them outside of work, give them their gift outside of work.
Do consider organizing a “team gift” for a manager. Going in on something as a group will mean you can get something special without spending too much individually, and will ensure that you don’t look like you’re trying to score points.
Do include a card to express your gratitude for a co-worker’s help, an employee’s above-and-beyond performance, or a boss’s mentorship over the past year. Chances are your words of appreciation will mean just as much as – if not more than – the gift you picked out.