Holiday Gifts at Work

Posted on December 17, 2009 by


It’s the time of year where a flurry of presents is exchanged in the midst of colorful bows, wrapping paper and gift bags. How should you handle giving gifts at your workplace? This is one of the topics we discuss for TAPUniversity’s online Working with People course.

First of all, know your company’s policies on gifts. For example, there may be a rule stating that you aren’t allowed to accept a gift from a client that is worth more than a certain dollar amount. Secondly, know your company’s culture concerning gifts. Ask your co-workers what is typically done concerning gifts during the holidays and what people are planning to do this year. This is especially important if you are a new employee. It is safest to go along with the group so you don’t appear as either a Scrooge or as trying to curry favor with others. If people will be drawing names for a gift exchange, go ahead and buy a gift for the exchange. If no one will be exchanging gifts, there is no need to add your co-workers to your shopping list. Gifts for one’s boss can be a delicate situation. If people will be buying a gift for their boss, it’s best to make it a group gift to which everyone contributes.

Lastly, when buying gifts for people at work, it is important to select the appropriate gift. Decide what is appropriate to spend—too cheap of a gift may be offensive and too expensive of a gift may be embarrassing for the recipient.

While it’s the thought that counts, a potpourri of ice cream and syrup toppings may not be the perfect gift – so try to get to know the person a little bit. What is appropriate to spend will depend on the particular situation, such as the profession and organization. Again, ask around for examples of typical gifts in your organization. Gifts should not be too personal. Also, avoid gifts that you may think are humorous but others could find offensive.   If you’re able to take the other person’s interests into account, it’s ideal and shows thoughtfulness. For example, if you know a co-worker’s favorite restaurant, a gift certificate to that restaurant makes a nice gift.