WORKPLACE / JAN. 09, 2017
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12 Crucial Workplace Gift Giving Tips

Beautifully wrapped gifts

Christmas gift giving in the workplace can be a little overwhelming, unless you know the correct etiquette. Here are some crucial tips to help you get through the festive season with your dignity completely intact.


1. Understand Your Company's Policy

Make sure you are fully aware of what your company's policy is around Christmas gift giving. Is it normal practice or is it not something that is usually encouraged? In a large organisation, it is quite unrealistic to buy gifts for everyone, so only consider giving to those you closely work with.

A small office is quite another story. Check with other employees who have been there longer than you to see what the normal expectations are. Some companies like to organise a  Secret Santa, or Kris Kringle, where all employees' names are drawn out of a hat and you only get a gift for the person who you've picked.

This can be a lot of fun, especially if all the gifts are given and opened together.

2. Don't Overspend

It is quite common to keep the cost of gifts affordable in the workplace, and your company may have a policy around this. If there's a Secret Santa, there's often a spending cap put on the cost of the gift. Everyone's financial situation is different, and this will avoid embarrassment as no one wants to be thought of as stingy.

3. Be Thoughtful

Try to consider the person you are buying for and tailor the gift to suit their personality and interests. Maybe this person has a certain hobby or something they are passionate about like gardening or cooking. Something related to this passion would be ideal. You will know if someone is truly passionate about their hobby or something in life as they are sure to mention it in passing more than once. Get cues from everyday chat and you’ll come up with plenty of ideas; it’s just a matter of fitting the passion to your workplace budget.

4. Don't Try to Be Funny

Humorous gifts might work well with family and close friends but they are not really appropriate in the workplace. What you find funny might be offensive to another person, so it is probably best to avoid this scenario.

5. Purchase a Combined Gift for the Boss

It's a really good idea to collect money from everyone in the office and then pool the money together to buy something for the boss from the whole team. This avoids people trying to outdo each other when purchasing gifts for the boss.

6. Job-Appropriate Gifts for the Team

It sometimes falls upon the team leader to get a little something for his or her co-workers who had been such a vital part of the team’s success throughout the year. These people work hard, often without recognition, and it’s a nice touch for the team leader to give a little token of gratitude. If it’s office staff, then perhaps a pen and pencil set or desk calendars will do. Yes, computers and cell phones all have digital calendars these days, but it’s nice to jot a date here and there while on the phone, and these really come in handy even if they are a bit archaic.

7. Avoid Religious Gifts If You Are Unsure

Although it is Christmas, not everyone celebrating the holiday is Christian. Therefore, it is usually inappropriate to give gifts like snow globes with a manger in them or nativity candles and the likes. Even Santa, believe it or not, is offensive to some, so be very careful to avoid a gift which could be construed as religious if you are unsure as to the recipient’s faith, or lack thereof.

8. Steer Clear of Gifts that Can Be Construed as Too Personal

While you know the man who sits at the desk across from you only wears Grey Flannel men’s cologne, you might want to avoid that particular idea as his wife might not be thrilled with the girl in the office giving her husband such a personal gift. Be very careful to give something that can’t be taken the wrong way.

9. Gift Certificates to a Favourite Shop or Restaurant

Perhaps you’ve heard your co-worker mention having dinner or cocktails at a certain restaurant that they ‘just love’. This is a great gift, especially around the holidays as most people are so overspent that they simply don’t spend anything on their own entertainment. It might not cover the entire cost of a meal for two, but it would certainly give enough to make an evening out possible.

10. Theatre Tickets

Not everyone loves the theatre, it is true, but if your co-worker enjoys a show now and again or a flick at the local cinema, theatre tickets are the perfect gift. This is one, however, where you’d need to know enough about the person to know what kinds of shows they are into, so be careful not to give tickets to a show they would never enjoy.

11. Gift Basket of Goodies

When all else fails, a lovely gift basket of goodies is always appreciated. Filled with fruits, sweets, cakes, cheeses and even a bottle or two of wine, that gift basket will probably be gone before the New Year is ushered in. Everyone loves to eat, right? If nothing else, they’ll take it home and set the goodies out as snacks for guests who stop by over the holiday. The best generic gift of all time!

12. Have a Couple of ‘Just in Case’ Gifts

Try to have a couple of generic gifts in your desk that can be given to someone who may have bought you something or if someone unexpectedly turns up with a gift for you.

Here are some useful ideas which are considered thoughtful but still allow you to stay within your budget:

  • An arty desk calendar
  • Some interesting drink coasters
  • A desk planner
  • A lovely scented candle
  • An attractive business card holder
  • A pretty notepad
  • Some fancy tea sachets for people who you know are tea drinkers
  • Some cute sticky notes
  • An interesting cookbook for someone who you know loves to cook
  • Some kind of gourmet food item
  • An unusual or pretty potted plant for the garden lover

If you're still stuck for what to buy, you could use an online Christmas gift generator like this one. It’s a great tool for generating some really useful ideas. You can specify a spending limit, special interests, the age of the recipient and whether they are male or female.


One thing you should always remember is that the wrapping is sometimes appreciated more than the gift itself. When you bring a gift to be given at an office party or workplace dinner for the holiday, have your package wrapped professionally, if possible. Most of us can’t wrap to save our lives, so if you want to give a gift they’ll appreciate, make the wrapping picture-perfect. Little keepsake bags, ribbons and decorative embellishments are a delight when receiving a gift.

So, whether you are looking for gift ideas for co-workers or Christmas gifts for the entire office, ensure that you follow the tips above. This will help you avoid any potential embarrassment and it will help you choose something that will be, above all, appreciated.

Do you have any other tips you’d like to add? Join the conversation below and let us know!

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