There are so many pitfalls in buying gifts for your coworkers. Will you spend the right amount? Will your gift match up with theirs? What if you don’t get someone a gift who gets you one? Hopefully, this guide can help out a bit.
Decide who’s on your list
First and foremost, you need to figure out who you’re getting gifts for. Now, if you’re here it’s likely that you already have someone in mind, but it’s important to think through this anyway. Think through these questions, and that can help:
- Who are you allowed to give gifts to? It’s actually fine if someone gets you a gift and you’re not allowed to give them one (like a boss). But find out your company policy. Nothing’s worse than getting in trouble for a nice gesture.
- Are there unwritten rules about who gets gifts? Follow those too. If you haven’t been at the company long, ask someone who has what’s appropriate.
Choose something thoughtful
What’s the point of gift-giving if you’re just exchanging gift cards to generic stores. A poorly-chosen or too-impersonal gift says “I don’t know you at all,” which is hardly the message you’ll be wanting to send. So you need to choose something relevant to that person’s interests. Be especially careful on this with giving alcohol (to people who don’t drink or who maybe drink a tad too much). A gift card to someone’s favorite coffee shop or something for their desk in their favorite style or color are the right level of personal (more on that later). Consider habits and hobbies: a coworker who likes trying new types of tea might enjoy something new. Someone who enjoys collectibles of a certain sort might enjoy one more, particularly if there’s one they’ve mentioned in passing and don’t have yet.
Don’t get too personal
Keep in mind that this gift will be seen, most likely, by other coworkers. Don’t rely on in-jokes or needs that the person has that might be embarrassing if they were widely seen. It doesn’t matter if your friend really needs to trim their nosehair – that sort of clipper would never be an appropriate gift.
Don’t be extravagant
It’s easy to go too far. Gifts which are over-the-top are embarrassing to receive. Don’t let your nice gesture be something that can hinder your relationship. Similarly, if you give a too-extravagent gift to someone above you in the pecking order, that can be seen as an attempt at currying favor. Even if the recipient loves their new iPad, their peers might not love the appearance of you capitalizing off of a holiday gift.
Don’t be insensitive
Christmas is a religious and secular holiday, but unless you’re employed at a church or religious nonprofit, overtly religiously-themed gifts will likely make someone feel left out. Don’t put that sort of pressure on a business relationship unless you’re 500% sure that a nonsecular gift will be welcomed by the recipient and won’t make someone else feel part of the out group.
For the same reasons, don’t exchange gifts in front of coworkers who aren’t on your list. And generally try to have some rhyme or reason to who you’re getting gifts for.