Ask Yourself These Seven Questions When Considering Giving Your Coworkers or Boss a Gift During Christmas
Question 1: Does my company have a policy around gift giving?
This is the easiest place to start. Some larger corporations may have a policy against gift giving in general, or have some limitations on what you can give (homemade food items, for example). Check with HR and see if there is a policy you can reference, or some anecdotes they can share with you from their time there.
Question 2: Does my company do a “sponsored” gift giving activity?
This would be along the lines of a White Elephant party or Secret Santa and would be announced to the company as a whole. Since these are optional, it is best etiquette to engage in this office activity. It’s only fun when everybody participates and in general the cap for Secret Santa or White Elephant office gifts is around $10-$20. If your company has not declared a cap, suggest to whoever is organizing the event to institute a cap as it puts everybody participating more at ease.
Question 3: My office is doing a Secret Santa gift exchange, what should I get?
Keeping your budget under $20 is always a safe bet, unless your office communicates otherwise. Stick with general items that everybody can appreciate, like food gifts or gift cards, if you don’t know the recipient that well. Sometimes an office will let everybody write down a few interests of theirs on their name card, so that when they are chosen from the hat, you’ll have an idea of what to get that person. Suggest this to whoever is organizing the event if there are a lot of new faces in the office, or if you are in a large office with a lot of employees who wouldn’t otherwise know each other that well.
Question 4: My office is doing a White Elephant gift exchange, what should I get?
White Elephant exchanges can be a great time, but depending on your company culture, be wary with how witty and comical you are willing to get. Remember, a White Elephant gift does not have to be outrageous, just…well, tasteful.
Question 5: Should I give my boss a gift for Christmas?
In general, there is no expectation for an employee to give their boss a gift. While you might think it is a nice gesture, you don’t want your coworkers to know you were the only one who did so – it makes them feel bad and might seem like you are trying too hard. If you are a real holiday spirited gift giver, consider writing a well thought out card saying how much you appreciate your boss’s help throughout the year and wishing them and their family a happy holiday.
If you work on a small team, sometimes a coworker might suggest doing a group gift for your manager. If you have any concern over budget, make sure the group is clear with how much everybody is comfortable spending.
If the group opts for a combined gift, consider something that can be easily appreciated and in festive spirit, like a Christmas cookie gift basket, or a gift card to their favorite lunch spot.
Question 6: I am a manager, should I give my employees a gift?
There is no expectation for you to give your employees a Christmas gift, unless it is clearly part of your company culture. However, it is a nice way to show your appreciation for their hard work because in some fashion their work is a reflection of how well you are doing your job. If you have many employees working under you, doing something simple like a personalized handwritten card can really have a positive effect.
If your company has an inventory of affordable items like company swag, including coffee mugs or pens, these make great compliments to a personalized card. Or a small gift card to the local coffee shop usually bodes well with people.