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12/4/2014 9:12:33 PM

Tips for successful gift giving at work

Giving someone a Christmas present is traditionally intended as a gesture from the heart.

Done properly, giving and receiving gifts can be the perfect way to develop important connections between people.

Whilst it might be easy to think of appropriate gifts for friends and loved ones buying gifts for work colleagues comes with its own unique set of challenges.

All wrapped up?

Christmas gifts from workmates tend to fall into one of four categories:
  • Out of a cracker - offensively low-priced and tacky
  • Santa Baby - far too personal
  • Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh -  expensive and over the top
  • Naughty list? - conspicuous in their absence, i.e nothing at all
If gift giving is workplace etiquette in your office you’ll need to give your purchases some prior thought to prevent them ending up as one of the above, potentially casting a poor reflection on your professional image.

So, how do you go about achieving the right balance when it comes to gift giving at work?

Should I buy gifts?

If there IS present exchanging in the office, make sure you take part. You want to appear a team player, even if you know you’ll struggle to find the right thing to buy.

If there IS NO present exchanging in the office, don’t buy anything. If you do you’ll make yourself and everyone around you feel really awkward for not doing the same.

Who should I buy for?

Traditionally, bosses give their staff presents, not the other way around. If you know you're the only one planning to buy your boss a Christmas present, perhaps avoid it altogether; you don’t want to become the office apple-polisher in the eyes of your colleagues! If you insist on buying a gift for your boss, then consider asking your colleagues if they’d like to chip in on a collective present from all of you.

Buying gifts for all your colleagues can be expensive but choosing where to draw the line risks offending someone. We find the best way to give gifts and keep everyone happy is to organise a ‘Secret Santa’. In a nutshell, everyone in the office puts their name in a hat and employees take turns randomly selecting another employee to buy for.

Secret Santa is one of the most popular ways to give presents at this time of year so our tips this week are based on it (although they still apply if your office doesn’t have a Secret Santa).

Tips for successful gift giving:

Buy something, anything! Whilst giving cash is often seen as the least risky, most practical approach to buying for a tricky person be careful in case the recipient feels snubbed! They might (mistakenly) think you couldn’t be bothered making the effort to buy a personalised gift. If you’re really struggling, consider where they buy coffee or do their grocery shopping as a gift card is an acceptable last resort.

Include everybody! It’s upsetting to be left out, so invite everyone in your workplace to participate even if you’re not sure it’s ‘their thing’. However, stress that participation is optional; some people may not have the money, or may not be able to join in due to personal or religious beliefs.

Set a price limit. In most workplaces between £5 and £20 tends to be the limit. Setting a limit stops colleagues from spending more they can afford, or embarrassing themselves by spending too much, or too little.

Do your homework! It shouldn’t be too difficult to find out what your recipient’s hobbies and interests are, particularly in a small department. Tailor the gift to suit them.

Be gracious. Acknowledge any and all gifts with a handwritten card; your gratitude will be remembered.

Follow these simple tips and you should have a pleasant and fun festive season at work. Don't forget to share this blog with your colleagues to make sure you get a thoughtful gift too!

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