What is an appropriate gift for your boss? How about that colleague from IT? You barely know him, but he’s saved your laptop from combustion several times. As the holiday season rolls around, gift-giving can seem a little disingenuous, especially if it’s a mandated workplace activity.
Whether it’s for your boss, a team member, or a client, the decision to contribute to the holiday cheer at work is a personal one, and no one should feel obligated to spend money or give a gift.
However, if you choose to do so, there are several considerations. Jackie Vernon-Thompson, a certified etiquette consultant and the founder of From the Inside-Out School of Etiquette, shares some advice and points to consider when it comes to gifting in the workplace:
- Start by understanding the prevailing culture in your workplace.
Some offices have established guidelines or traditions for holiday gift exchanges. Recognising the diversity within your workplace and embracing inclusive celebrations is also key.
Jackie advises: “Consider the colours of the gift and wrap, words, and number of the gift to ensure that you are not offending anyone of the culture. Remember that specific colours and numbers carry significant meanings and are symbolic.” It’s important to respect these norms, while being mindful of the individual preferences of your colleagues.
- Personalising your presents also adds a meaningful touch.
“In the workplace, one does not give a gift for the sake of giving,” says Jackie. “A gift comes with meaning. In most cases, it is a sign of gratitude for what the recipient has done.” Consider the recipient’s interests, hobbies, or shared inside jokes.
- Set reasonable spending limits for workplace gift exchanges to ensure inclusivity.
If you’re tempted to splurge on that expensive item, remember that not everybody in your workplace can afford to reciprocate, and it might instead make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Remember, the thought behind the gift matters more than its monetary value. Sometimes, a heartfelt note or a sincere verbal expression of gratitude can be more impactful than a physical gift.