Holiday Gifting: Office Politics Edition

Gift BoxEveryone loves getting gifts, but gifting, especially in a professional environment, can be uncomfortable. So, after a bit of Internet research and personal decisiveness, I’ve developed the 5 simple steps to thoughtful, thrifty office gifting.

  1. Set a budget. A healthy range that doesn’t deem you cheap and restricted to gift cards is $15-$20. Spending more than $20 is unrealistic, and will likely set an unfair curve on the rest of the gifts in the pot. $20 can go a long way, especially considering stores like TJ Maxx, Bed Bath & Beyond, and World Market (sadly not in NY).
  2. Don’t “gift up” individually. That’s not to say the head honcho shouldn’t be shown some appreciation. Group gifting works well at my office, and is something that allows for a bigger, better gift and it alleviates the overall gifting pressure.
  3. Be practical. $20 can buy some useful, and sometimes fun things. Think of gifts that your team member or peer will get use out of, especially if it gives them an escape from the office. For ladies, manicures are a great idea and are fairly inexpensive. In most big cities, you can find a mani/pedi deal for under $30. For men, try a cool money clip or a funky business card holder. That’s not to say those gifts wouldn’t work for women — in fact, I need a new business card holder — but a man would not necessarily be as jazzed about a lunch-hour mani/pedi.
  4. Don’t be afraid to be goofy. Feel like gifting a cute frame that you bought for a bargain? Change up the print that comes standard with the frame. Put a goofy picture of yourself, or a candid shot of the recipient. Being goofy doesn’t give you free reign to be inappropriate. If you wouldn’t gift it to your sibling or parent — assuming they have a pretty good sense of humor — don’t gift it to a colleague.
  5. Beware of the homemade and edible. My mom used to joke, “If I can’t eat it, don’t send it.” Well, I’m actually not so sure that she was kidding. That said, be mindful of the different palates in your office. Not everyone is into chocolate, and not everyone is going to appreciate the hard work you put into that homemade Kleenex cozy. If you’re trying to save money and kick up the kitsch, make sure you’re aware of the recipient’s likes/dislikes.

When in doubt, keep it simple. A good desk toy or stress ball are oldies but goodies. And soon enough, it’ll be January 1, and the holiday season will be behind us.

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