We’ve given you suggestions for what to get your coworkers this holiday season. Now we’re here to tell you what
not to give.
According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, conducted online by Harris Poll among 3,602 full-time workers and 2,326 hiring managers, about a fifth (21%) of employees say they plan to buy holiday gifts for coworkers and 20% plan to buy a gift for their boss.
“Holidays can be joyful, even in the workplace. But they can also trigger some confusion when it comes to gifting,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job.” “It’s helpful to think through an appropriate gift giving strategy for the office to avoid feeling awkward or embarrassed.”
Yes, of course it’s the thought that counts when it comes to gift-giving, but you really don’t want to get your colleagues anything inappropriate or offensive — or something that might leave them scratching their heads.
Before we get to examples of gifts you should never give, here are a few things you should consider while shopping for your coworkers:
1. Is gift-giving even appropriate or allowed in your office?
If there are no official policies in place, use your best judgment to decide the best approach, Taylor says. And be sensitive to your office culture.
2. Why am I buying this gift?
Don’t feel compelled to go overboard to “win over” anyone or favours, especially the boss. “If you run out and get the latest iPad for your manager, it might be transparent that you are kissing up,” she says.
3. Is this thoughtful?
Try to think of what your team members might appreciate; everyone has their own interests, and a thoughtful gift is most valued, says Taylor. “Avoid running to the supermarket or pharmacy for something last minute and becoming desperate.”
4. Is this appropriate?
“When in doubt, leave it out,” is a good policy for gifts that seem questionable, she adds. “If you think it might be inappropriate or too personal, assume that the recipient will.”
Avoid gag gifts and anything that has religious, sexual, or political overtones.
5. Does this gift have wide appeal?
A professional and safe approach, especially for those you don’t know well, is baked goods that can be shared, such as those that are already packaged, or office-related gifts, such as a mug, or desk item,” she says. “Gift certificates for shops that are in the mainstream are often a safe choice, too.”
6. How can I best show my appreciation?
This is a good opportunity to thank those with whom you work. It’s good etiquette to offer a brief message of thanks to your team along with the present, Taylor explains. “At the very least, give your gift with a holiday-related message,” she suggests.
7. Am I being fair — or playing favourites?
You don’t necessarily have to give everyone the same thing — but put the same amount of thought (and money) into each gift. Don’t give Sally a $100 bottle of wine, and Jane a $5 pen. It will send a bad message.
“People do pay attention to this,” says Taylor.
Now, to give you an even clearer picture of what you should not give, here are 12 gifts real employees received from someone in the office during the holiday season, according to a CareerBuilder survey:
title=”A giant heart shaped box of candy … from Valentine’s Day”
content=”Nothing says ‘I’m regifting!’ like a treat from another holiday … from 10 months ago.”
source=”Getty Images/Scott Olson”
title=”A tattoo gift certificate (recipient did not have any tattoos)”
title=”A squirrel toilet seat decal”
content=”This is just creepy.”
source=”Flickr / Peter Trimming”
title=”A bowling ball”
content=”Weird, unless they love to bowl — then this is a great gift.”
title=”Slippers for a cat (the recipient didn’t have pets)”
content=”What are cat slippers, anyway?”
source=”Flickr / Deborah”
title=”A pair of used earrings”
title=”A roll of duct tape”
content=”This might send the wrong message.”
content=”Meat probably shouldn’t be part of office holiday gifting.”
source=”Flickr / Steven Depolo”
content=”What are you trying to say?”
title=”A loaf of bread (not fancy or gourmet)”
source=”Scott Olson / Getty Images”
title=”Ear hair trimmer”
content=”They might take offence to this.”
title=”A ceramic sheep you can dress up seasonally”