One of the challenges of the holiday season is knowing who to get gifts for and what is appropriate. This can be particularly challenging in the workplace. A few words of advice:
Know the culture – If you are new to the organization ask your colleagues about what past experience has been. Does the team buy a group gift for the boss, does the team exchange gifts, is there a group event, etc. It is important to know what others do so you don’t stand out on the extreme end either positively or negatively. If you are the only person to bring the boss a gift, others will think you are “sucking up.” If you are the only one without a gift for the boss, you will feel conspicuously absent. Go with the flow. Some organizations have official policies prohibiting or limiting gift giving so be sure to know the environment.
When in doubt, be conservative. This is not a time for extravagance which could make people feel uncomfortable. Bring something homemade to share – a plate of special cookies, your special fudge, etc. with a note. You can’t go wrong sharing a bit of yourself. If you don’t bake, pick up a special treat to share with your colleagues. If you have a hobby or craft that you enjoy outside of working hours, it is appropriate to share something you made. The personal touch often means a great deal to people at the holidays.
Participate cheerfully – If you are participating in the office Yankee Swap or other gift exchange, have fun with it. Participation shows you are part of the team. Have fun and be creative but remember it is professional environment. Be sure you gift is in good taste and won’t offend the participants.
Spirit of Giving — Gift giving should be a choice not an obligation. Sometimes time together outside of the office is most valuable. I look forward to taking my team out for a holiday lunch. It gives us all a chance to unwind and enjoy each other’s company without talking shop. It is a perfect opportunity to say thank you to the team for their work in the past year. Gifts don’t always come gift-wrapped with a bow.
Show Appreciation – Most typical office gift giving is the boss showing special appreciation to their personal assistant. It is a great way to say thank you. The boss should know the person well enough to give something they will enjoy and appreciate. Do you know their favorite restaurant or store for a gift certificate? Don’t under-estimate the power of a card and a personal note. The holidays are a perfect time to let someone know they’ve made a difference in your life in the past year.