It’s the last weekend before Christmas—translation: shopping crunch time—and your co-workers are cashing in on their rollover vacation time. Hence, early next week will be filled with the exchange of small items neatly enclosed in signature Kris Kringle wrapping paper, baked goods adorned in parchment paper or whatever gift of your choosing. But before you prepare that Christmas gift be sure to know the dos and don’ts of office gift-giving.
Blackenterprise.com spoke with the author and spokesperson for The Emily Post Institute, Anna Post, on the importance of knowing your company’s policy on exchanging gifts, sticking to the rules and why bringing a bottle of liquor for your colleague to pop is a major don’t.
Familiarize yourself with your office’s gifting policy–Although some offices are pretty open to the exchanging of gifts during holidays or special occasions, others may forbid the practice. No matter how tempting it is, don’t break the rules. Instead, organize a group lunch where you and your co-workers can bond, even if you each pay your own way, or grab a drink after work, suggests Post. “There are ways to be festive without spending a lot of money.”
Analyze your company’s culture to determine your purchase–“The key is to knowing what kind of office culture you work in,” says the Huffington Post contributor. “Pay attention to that.” What is acceptable at a boutique public relations firm, most likely, is unacceptable in a large financial institution. Typically, the more lax the work environment, the wider spectrum of gifts you can choose from. On the other hand, gag or inappropriate gifts are a no-no. Don’t get too personal either. Scratch off lingerie, perfume/cologne, religious paraphernalia, alcoholic beverages and, in some cases, even homemade treats from your list of gift ideas.
Caution: Stray away from giving gifts to your boss–Your boss may decide to give staffers a token of his or her appreciation, but returning the favor with a gift isn’t always the best idea. Give a thank-you card instead. “You don’t want to be giving gifts up the chain of command, unless it’s a group gift from everyone,” says Post. “This really looks like you’re currying favor.” A group gift should be optional. If you have worked with your boss for over 20 years and have a personal relationship, then the gesture is okay, however, if you are a company newbie you might not want to take that step, just yet. Feel free to check with your Human Resources department for clarity.
Play by the rules–If your office is doing a “Secret Santa,” don’t be a Scrooge by not participating. How will you look if the entire office or department takes part in it, but you don’t? Also, make sure to stay within the designated budget. “It makes it more fun for everybody and you’ll avoid those awkward moments,” says the etiquette expert.
Sharing is caring–Bringing in a tin of holiday cookies or a gourmet cake for your co-workers to share is a simple yet nice way to kick-off the holiday season. Sitting in an office or cubicle for most of the day creates quite an appetite so your colleagues will appreciate breaking for a midday snack.