You may spend a large portion of your life with these people, but that doesn’t make exchanging presents with your coworkers any less awkward.
If you plan on swapping gifts at the office this year, Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, an etiquette and civility expert and the author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom,” has some dos and don’ts to help you avoid any embarrassing moments.
DO speak to your boss about it first
“Before you play Santa at work, find out what the policy is on gift-giving and receiving,” Randall says.
As a courtesy, it’s a good idea to make sure the people in charge are OK with in-office gift-giving, she says. And depending on their personal policy on getting involved with staff, you could also invite them to participate.
DON’T forget to extend the invitation to the entire department
If you plan on having your gift exchange in the office or at a company gathering, make sure you don’t exclude anyone. Randall suggests placing a sign-up sheet in a common area, including a deadline, not pressuring anyone to participate.
DO set a maximum dollar amount that everyone agrees on
“Not everyone can afford lavish gifts,” Randall says.
DON’T disrupt others
“It’s probable that not everyone will participate, so consider holding the exchange away from work, during a lunch break, or before or after work hours,” Randall suggests.
If you’re planning to exchange gifts within your office clique or only with a specific person, it’s best to plan the gift exchange away from work.
DO put some thought into your gift
Unless you feel that’s what’s wanted, skip the off-the-shelf gift card and opt for something a little more inspired.
“Hopefully, you know a little bit about your coworker — are they a hiker, coffee drinker, book fanatic, grilling expert, or nap lover? Use your imagination and buy accordingly,” Randall says.
DON’T give anything too personal
Avoid lingerie, adult toys, bathing products, or a book on “How to be a better parent,” Randall warns.
DO get something new
Put that dusty candle back in your closet — no one likes receiving an obviously used or unwanted gift.
“If you can’t afford a gift, decline to participate,” Randall says.
DON’T give alcohol
Alcohol may seem like an easy, go-to gift — who doesn’t like a glass of wine after a long day at the office? Well, the answer is, plenty of people. “You never know who is struggling with addiction or has religious restrictions,” Randall points out.
Unless you are certain the recipient enjoys a drink now and then, you’re better off avoiding alcohol as a gift.
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