Workplace Gift-Giving Guide

The do’s and don’ts of workplace present exchange

Who doesn’t love the holidays? Delicious eggnog, shimmering trees, and, of course, presents bound in cheerful wrapping paper. This time of year provides a wonderful opportunity to bond with your coworkers. Exchanging gifts that are a bit more personal enhances your workplace relationships

But not too personal. A happy occasion can be ruined by an inappropriate or strange gift.

DO: Office Supplies

Unique and fun office supplies make great gifts. If you have a friend who loves bulldogs, spring for a dog-shaped eraser, pen, or calendar. If someone’s a writer, maybe they would appreciate a typewriter-shaped pencil cup or a calligraphy pen. The gifts don’t have to be particularly quirky. If you want to get April from accounting something but aren’t sure what she wants, you really can’t go wrong with a numeric keypad!

DON’T: Anything Offensive or Inappropriate

Stay away from anything that includes swear words or lewd images. Even if you have an inside joke with your buddy Bob, giving him an inappropriate gag gift in front of the entire office is a bad idea. It makes you look unprofessional, and could even put Bob in a bad spot when he has to figure out what to do with your gift. Also, take care your gift won’t be offensive due to an individual’s religious or personal beliefs.

This is all still true even if the actual gift exchange isn’t happening at the office. People talk, and your boss is sure to hear about it one way or another.

DO: Personalized Items

It’s inexpensive to order customized items online these days. You can get a coffee cup made with an inside (and safe-for-work) joke plastered on the side for a few dollars, or a few pens monogrammed with someone’s initials for a similar price. Some Etsy sellers even create custom keychains or stickers for under $10. Search online and use your creative flair to design something memorable.

DON’T: Jewelry, Perfume, Flowers, Cologne, Etc.

Steer clear of any gift that could be romantic. Although your intentions might be entirely platonic, you have no idea how your coworker might feel upon receiving such a gift. Not to mention the gossip that could start because of it.

And personal items like perfume and cologne are a bad idea anyway. You don’t really know a person’s scent preferences, and could end up giving them something they don’t like or are even allergic to.

DO: Gift Cards

Although gift cards can be a bit impersonal, they are by far the safest workplace gift idea. It’s hard to get offended by a gift card to your favorite restaurant or retailer. Just ask around beforehand to make sure they don’t have a vendetta against any one chain or supermarket. A fun holiday card can add a personal touch.

DON’T: Alcohol

Although there’s nothing wrong with bringing a nice wine to a dinner party, it is usually frowned upon to bring such libations into the workplace. It might be alright if your gift exchange is happening at a restaurant or coworker’s home, but consider your company culture before deciding.

Looking for more workplace gift ideas? Let us know in the comments below!

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