Gift Giving Etiquette at the Office
If you've ever been on the receiving end of an inappropriate gift from a colleague, you know that workplace gift giving can be a minefield. Making the wrong move can create lasting problems with coworkers. Alternatively, presenting a proper coworker gift or hosting an inclusive office holiday party can improve relationships, boost morale and give everyone in your workplace a warm and fuzzy feeling.
So as you get ready to spread your own holiday cheer, heed these cautionary tales and words of etiquette advice when it comes to celebrating and giving gifts at work:
Make the Gift Exchange About More Than a Present
Done right, gift giving can be a positive workplace experience. Consider adding another dimension to your coworker gift exchange by extending your generosity to the local community. Anyone who wants to participate in any sort of gift swap must also contribute to a food, clothing or toy drive. Such a collective effort can transform a fun game into a meaningful tradition everyone in the company can feel good about.
Rethink the Office Holiday Party
With all the holiday hype that goes on this time of year, we seldom take the time to remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays. This is your chance to work on your diversity sensitivity. Research other people's religions and traditions, and try to make everyone in your workplace feel included in the festivities. Ask people to share their family or cultural traditions. Remember to include new employees in your office holiday party planning.Coworker Gift-Giving Etiquette
To make the right choices, employees need a well-thought-out gift-giving strategy in the workplace. Consider these tips, adapted from Peggy and Peter Post:
- Diversions such as Yankee Swap, Secret Santa and the like are fine, as long as nobody gets carried away. Underscore the lighthearted nature of the game.
- If you are giving gifts to people who are special to you in the workplace, do it in private. There's no need to upset people who aren't on your gift list.
- Don't give your boss or supervisor a gift that is just from you (unless they are a close personal friend, in which case the above rule applies).
- Ask others in the office to contribute so you look like a team player.
- Don't give offensive, extravagant or joke gifts.
- Also steer clear of gifts involving alcohol, fragrance or clothing.
- Always send thank-you notes for personal gifts.
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