Christmas is indeed a special time of the year – a time of anticipation and unfortunately for most of us high anxiety. The stress/anxiety of the holiday does not just revolve around family obligations but includes that area of life where so much of our waking time is spent – the workplace.
Gift giving, a central part of Christmas, presents special concerns in an office setting. You must be mindful before purchasing gifts for coworkers, bosses, those who report directly to you and support staff. First, who is included? If you are in a new position, ask fellow workers what is the precedence or if there is a policy in place regarding gift giving. A gift says a lot about how you feel about a person, their worth, and closeness to you. It is almost never a good idea to give a gift that is too intimate like perfume or, God forbid, sleepwear. Another area to be leery of is a humorous or gag gift – unless this is specifically outlined as an office tradition. Remember everyone has a unique sense of humor and what you think is hysterically funny, another might find offensive. Consider the person. Summer sausage to a vegetarian? A nativity set to a Jewish colleague? A large box of chocolates to an obese office mate? A flask for the guy noted to overdo on the rum punch?
USE YOUR HEAD FOR GOODNESS SAKE. YOU BETTER WATCH OUT. YOU’D BETTER BE GOOD FOR GOODNESS SAKE!!! Santa Claus is coming to town.
Consider some of the following guidelines when purchasing a holiday gift for coworkers:
- Keep it practical and under $20. (Sometimes offices set an agreed upon limit; this is a good thing.) Some suggestions for practical gifts – desk speakers, picture frames, music gift cards, USB flash drives, ear bud headphones.
- Fire up the oven and prepare goodies to share with everyone.
- Institute a Secret Santa. That way it is understood that everyone buys one gift and gets one gift. There are so fun ways to do this. Ever heard of dirty Santa where you can “steal” a gift from someone who has already opened his/her gift or go to the Santa sack for something still wrapped?
- Arrange and participate in a pot luck dinner or a cookie exchange.
- One of my favorites – sponsor a charity such as shopping for a family in need and all contribute to that.
A gift for the boss???
What is a good idea when it comes to gifting the boss? Should you? Will you be seen as a suck up if you do? It is best to not give an individual gift but opt to participate in a group gift – perhaps give a gift to charity in the name of your boss. He has to be thrilled or appear a Scrooge. Bah humbug employees!! According to etiquette expert Emily Post, just don’t do it.
A gift for those that report directly to you???
This is your call but if you do, it should be done across the board. Consider something impersonal such as gift certificates, tickets to the theater or a sporting event, wine, or food baskets.
You may want to remember those who support the company in positions that are not always seen yet assist everyone indirectly in accomplishing their jobs. People that clean, work in the mailroom or assist in low profile, minimum wage jobs might appreciate a group gift of money.
And finally, if you have a few coworkers who are special to you and you want to remember them at Christmas, be discreet in gifting them. Perhaps you could give your gift outside the office. It is also a good idea to cover possible embarrassment and have a few wrapped, impersonal, non-gender specific gifts to give to someone who surprises you with a gift.
“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.” Phyllis Diller
Happy Holidays to all and check yourself for the office Christmas party – be sure to check out this related post Holiday Office Party mishaps.