Few office interactions leave as much room for confusion as a holiday gift exchange. Is it appropriate to gift superiors? Is one supposed to gift assistants?
Here are some tips that will take the guesswork out of the holiday gift-giving equation:
- Involve the entire office. Eradicate the possibility that some staffers will receive presents while others end up empty-handed by organizing an officewide gift exchange. This will ensure that no one will be left out, and that everyone will be following the same basic ground rules. Additionally, questions of hierarchy will be eliminated by setting up a protocol for holiday gift giving that applies to the entire staff.
- Cap the cost per gift. Decide beforehand on the maximum dollar amount to be spent on gifts, which will spare your employees budgets during this expensive time of year. By capping the amount that can be spent on a gift — say $10 to $15 maximum — the office gift exchange becomes a fun challenge of finding a pleasing or amusing gift at little expense. This is a great opportunity for some creativity and originality.
- Keep it anonymous. Popular in many offices around the holidays is the “Secret Santa,” whereby each employee draws a colleague’s name from a hat and buys a gift for that person. Additionally, your office can hold a “gift swap” in which each person is responsible for purchasing one gift at the appointed price point. Then, with the entire office gathered together (perhaps at the holiday party), the wrapped gifts are put into a pot and each employee gets to draw one item.
- Give advance notice. If you’re involving your office in an organized gift exchange, inform people well in advance so everyone has time to shop. There is a glut of events and obligations around this time of year, and you want your gift exchange to be a fun activity, not yet another obligation complicating an already jam-packed holiday season.
- Schedule accordingly. Be sure to hold your gift exchange on a date when everyone is planning to be in attendance. Since many employees take holiday vacation time, schedule your exchange well before staff members start hitting the road. If your office’s holiday celebration isn’t the right time to do it (because clients are invited or because it’s a companywide soiree attended by people outside your office or department), then consider holding a small preholiday reception for your office alone.
- Urge common sense. As with any other work-related function, it’s important to be professional and use common sense when choosing presents. This means no giving of inappropriate, sexually suggestive, or otherwise problematic gifts. Instruct your employees to take extra care in selecting their items to ensure every recipient can fully enjoy his or her gift.
Don’t forget that gifts are also an ideal opportunity to promote your company’s good name to your business clients. Make sure to read Business Client Gift Giving for some helpful advice.