WORKPLACE / NOV. 03, 2014
version 2, draft 2

How to Master the Gift-giving Etiquette

Exchanging gifts with co-workers is one of the best ways of building relationships in the workplace. This could be during occasions such as holidays, birthdays or corporate events. However, there are several rules of etiquette which need to be adhered to in office gift giving. Here are some things to keep in mind:

1. Understand the company’s policies

Before buying a gift for anyone at the workplace, you need to get familiar with the company’s policy on gift giving. Some organizations actually prohibit exchanging of gifts at work, while others have regulations about how gifts should be given. Violating such company policies could be detrimental for your career.

2. Avoid intimate gifts

Before buying a gift for a co-worker, find out if it is appropriate for an office setting. For instance, flowers, perfume and lingerie would not be quite appropriate as gifts. In addition, avoid gifts such as nose hair trimmers which could suggest that your colleague needs to do something to improve their appearance.

3. Make sure not offend

If you don’t know your colleagues well enough, you might actually end up offending them with your gifts. For instance, you need to be careful when giving gifts such as spirits and wines. The recipient might be a teetotaler or a recovering alcoholic. Similarly, offering a fattening snack to a colleague who is trying hard to lose weight might not be appreciated.    

4. Be wise when choosing a gift for your boss

You need to exercise extra caution when purchasing a gift for your boss. If you are new to the organization, find out from your colleagues if buying a gift for the department head or boss is a normal practice. If so, what kind of gifts have they bought previously? This will give you an idea of what kind of gift would be appropriate. In some cases, it would be advisable to pool together with co-workers to buy department head or boss a larger gift.

5. Make it thoughtful

Selecting thoughtful gifts for your co-workers will take some time and effort. Carry out some research to find out what they love. For example, a colleague who loves sports would appreciate getting tickets to a basketball game. Similarly, an art lover would appreciate a painting or sculpture as a gift.

6. Give in private

Avoid giving gifts to colleagues in front of others. Doing this might cause others to feel jealous and discriminated against. Therefore, make sure your gifts are presented in a discrete manner.

7. Include the gift receipt

At times, you might buy someone a gift which is the wrong size or defective in a way. It is therefore very important to include the gift receipt. This will allow the recipient to return or exchange the item.

If you still don’t know what kind of gift to buy for your colleagues or boss, here are some ideas to consider:

  • Stationery paper
  • Gift cards for music, e-books or coffee
  • Picture frames
  • Business card cases
  • Fruit baskets
  • Beautiful pens
  • Leather planners
  • Calendars
  • Unique plants
  • Tickets to an event

Image: Flickr, StevenDepolo

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