Elementary Etiquette Society Blog

Holiday Gift Giving Etiquette For The Office


Holiday Gift Giving Etiquette For The Office


Wondering what to bring to your office gift exchange? Is it appropriate to give your boss a holiday gift? Here are 12 tips to guide you through gift giving in the workplace with class and good cheer:

Office Gift Tgold-presentip #1: Check with colleagues or the HR Department to find out if there is a gift policy and what is acceptable or common in your workplace. Only give a gift to your boss if it is standard protocol. However, if it isn't standard it never hurts to give some baked goods in a nice tin with a festive card.

Office Gift Tip #2: If you are not aware of a workplace gift policy and HR is not helpful or non-existent, think about your office environment; is it formal or more casual and family-oriented? Make sure your gift reflects your business setting and isn't over the top. No one wants to come across as a kiss up!

Office Gift Tip #3: A group gift for you boss from the entire office avoids favoritism and takes the pressure off of finding the perfect gift. It may seem tacky to make everyone contribute or to exclude certain names on the card if they don't donate money toward the gift. So, get some feedback from your co-workers and then figure out which route to go.

Office Gift Tip #4: Do not feel pressured to give your boss a gift if he or she gives you one. (Although, it will be remembered as thoughtful.) The majority of bosses give gifts without the expectation of receiving one in return. Show your appreciation by writing a thank you note within 48 hours of receiving the gift. Promptness is key with thank you notes!

Office Gift Tip #5: Are you wondering what in the world to give your boss? Whatever you give, make sure it is thoughtful and appropriate. Aim for something personal and professional. Consider their hobbies or interests. You can get a lot of ideas by simply observing his/her office area. Usually you can tell what they do in their spare time through photos. Or, consider something that they could use in their office like a frame, candy bowl, coasters, paperweight, nice pen, etc. For instance, do they like more contemporary frames or more traditional? Do they like knick knacks or is their office very simple?

If your boss enjoys drinking occasionally, then spirits or liquors are always a winner. There's a good chance you have heard your boss talk about having a glass of wine or about having a scotch or a particular type of liqueur. If not, then opt for something else.

Other suitable gift ideas for your boss or colleagues are food baskets, desk accessories, books, an item for their pet, a donation to a charity they are passionate about, or something referencing their favorite team or school. Be sure to stay gender neutral and secular.

Office Gift Tip #6: Do not give cash, gift cards (unless it's for a spa or a massage), undergarments, perfumes, colognes, jewelry, make-up, manicure kit, clothes, gag gifts or something too personal.

Office Gift Tip #7: A thoughtful note (with or without a small token) is an acceptable and appreciated gift. The act of writing a note shows you took time out of your hectic schedule to convey your thoughts. Find a nice card or use some nice letter paper or stationery and hand write the note!

Keep in mind, the best gift you can give your boss is a job well done throughout the year.

Office Gift Tip #8: Alternatives to an office gift exchange: cookie or baked goods exchange, potluck or group lunch catered in, homemade gift exchange, trimming the tree party, or an ornament party. Be creative!

Office Gift Tip #9: Want to give a gift to a colleague you are close with? Do it outside of the workplace, so you do not show favoritism if you are not buying a gift for everyone in the workplace.

Office Gift Tip #10: Group gift exchange guidelines:

  • Set a reasonable spending limit

  • Stay within the limit

  • Bring something fun and useful

  • Include a gift receipt when possible

  • Be careful when recycling gifts; if it was given to you last year by someone in your office they will remember and will be offended

  • Presentation is very important, take care in how the gift is wrapped or packaged

Office Gift Tip #11: Do not expect a gift. Act surprised when you do receive a gift. Also, pretend you are pleased with it even if you are repulsed. Look the person in the eye, read the card first and open with care.

Office Gift Tip #12: Send a handwritten thank you note within one week, but the sooner the better! E-mail is acceptable, but not preferred. Texting is borderline acceptable but also not preferred.

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