6 Rules for Giving Gifts at Work
With Cyber Monday in full swing, it's bound to dawn on you sooner or later that you need to consider what -- if any -- gifts you will give co-workers or your boss.
This can be a tricky road to navigate, and some people get it so wrong that it causes a rift in the office for months to come. But those who get it right can not only feel good about what they've done, but also garner some goodwill among the cubicles.
So here are some rules to follow to keep yourself out of trouble and in the good graces of your colleagues:
1. Go with tradition. If gifts have always been given in your office, don't be the one whining that it's a dumb tradition and should be stopped. You'll always end up sounding like Scrooge, and co-workers will consider your selfish ways when thinking about whether to include you in the next big project.
2. Be honest about your finances. If you're a single working parent and have four kids to support, it's OK to say that you would appreciate a dollar limit of $10 to $15. Or, you might suggest a secret Santa system so that you only have to buy one gift.
3. Be discreet. If you plan to give gifts to only a few people in your office, do it in private so no one's feelings get hurt. Ask them to keep the news of the gift to themselves, so no one feels left out.
4. Give appropriate gifts. If you're close to a colleague, then you know she would enjoy a Star War's poster. But if you're not sure, stick with gifts that won't be offensive: books, music and gift certificates to a local coffee house or the movies. (When selecting books and music, stay away from anything profane, religious, raunchy or political.)
5. Do a group gift to the boss. While the boss may give you a gift, you should only give him or her a gift if it's from the entire office. You'll be seen as a suck-up if you give the boss a personal gift, and it can cause real resentment if the gift is more expensive than others he or she may receive.
6. Don't forget your assistant. This is the person who stays late to help you with a spreadsheet, makes sure you get the last flight out of Chicago for an important conference and brings you hot tea when you have a cold. A gift of about $25 is fine, unless it's a long-time assistant and then you should spring for more. This is the one person that you should never leave off your holiday gift list.
Finally, remember that if you receive a gift, always send a thank-you note. It doesn't have to be elaborate, but do show your appreciation for the holiday thoughtfulness.