Keep the occasion jolly by following these nine rules of office gift-giving etiquette.
1. If you give your boss a gift, make it a group effort. Doing so allows everyone to participate at a lower cost per person while providing a more substantial offering than any one individual could (or should) give on their own. If you must do it alone, opt for something heartfelt (a holiday plant or baked goods) rather than expensive and overly personal.
2. Participation is key. If your office has an exchange, plan on being a part of it. If you sit on the sidelines for any reason, you could be viewed as a Grinch. The cost is usually minimal, and it opens the door to build holiday goodwill.
3. Give discreetly to work friends. If you have a small present for a few select colleagues, swap gifts outside of the office. Otherwise, you risk other people finding out and wondering why they were excluded.
4. Remember your team. The holidays provide an opportunity to say thank you to the people who support you year-round. If you supervise a small team, (say, less than five) consider a token of appreciation for each. A gift card to a favorite restaurant or retailer you know they like is a welcome treat.
5. Aim for the sweet spot on price limits. No matter the spending guidelines in an organized office event, there will always be someone who exceeds them. This holiday blunder can inadvertently cause problems, making the appropriately priced offerings look meager by comparison. Conversely, don’t underspend, either. Purchase something near the top of the recommended range.
6. Wrap it up. Embellish your package with pretty paper, gift bags and bows. The extra effort makes the person receiving the present feel special – and that’s what the season is all about.
7. Don’t overdo it. Resist the temptation to go overboard. Avoid using the holidays as a time to show off, or ingratiate yourself with an over the top gift to impress. Clients can read through shallow attempts of grandeur. A modest gift showing gratitude is a far better holiday choice.
8. Smile and say thank you. This is the correct response when a co-worker (or anyone else, for that matter) presents you with something but you don’t have anything for them. You are not obligated to buy a present in return if you had no intention of doing so. The only requirement is to offer your sincere thanks for their thoughtfulness.
9. Remember extraordinary acts of kindness. If your mentor gives you guidance or a colleague goes out of their way to help you succeed this year, now is a great time to recognize them. An act of appreciation doesn’t have to be fancy – a pretty mug with a bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans and a gift card to a nearby coffee shop is perfect. The holidays provide extra room to acknowledge their acts of thoughtfulness.