It’s that time of year again when the dreaded Secret Santa is fast approaching. Alternatively, maybe a colleague has a birthday, or you’re celebrating a team achievement? Cut to you sitting in the corner in the fetal position because you have absolutely no idea what to buy for someone with whom you work and you’re terrified you’ll choose something that’s completely wrong. To help you navigate this minefield, here are some helpful office gift-giving tips:
Do: Give Corporate Gifts
To qualify as a “corporate gift”, the item in question must be high-end, aesthetically pleasing, useful, or preferably a mix of the three. It also needs to be just personally tailored enough that it doesn’t come across as generic and make you seem disingenuous or ambivalent towards your colleague. Generic mugs, staplers and computer mice do not make impressive corporate gifts. On the other hand, comfortable, nice looking mouse pads, a stylish reusable coffee cup and that stationary set you know they’ll love are far more likely to fit the bill.
Don’t: Get Too Personal
It’s always best to avoid getting too personal with workplace gift giving. Socks and underwear are better left for your Dad at Christmas time, than your workmates. Obviously, you can bend this rule a little if you’re close enough that they’ll be receiving the present in a social situation, but never get personal in the office no matter how well you know someone.
Don’t: Spend Too Much
Getting your budget right is a delicate are when it comes to the workplace gift. An overly expensive item will only lead to embarrassment on the receiver’s end and potential resentment on your side when you receive something cheap and nasty in return. Keep your purchases sitting safely within the middle third of what you think is a reasonable budget range. If you’re uncertain as to what constitutes an appropriate amount to spend, ask a coworker you trust for some objective feedback. This way no one can accuse you of either going over the top or of being a cheapskate; both of which are labels you want to avoid.
Do: Try to Avoid Clichés
Everybody’s been given the kitschy “best colleague” mug or wilting bunch of flowers from that team member that forgot the Secret Santa until the last minute. Chocolate may taste great, but it doesn’t really show that you’ve put much thought into your offering. We’re looking at you, Jeanine in accounting…
The only times in which it’s ok to give a gift that’s super cliché is when you know 100% that it will be valued and appreciated, or when there is a collective agreement that everyone is going to go corny. If neither of these ring true, abort mission.
Christmas can be a great time at the office. However, it can also be a stressful one for many reasons, not just having to give gifts. Likewise, any other time where you may be required to buy presents for colleagues can come with its own set of anxiety-inducing issues.
Eliminate part of your struggle by following the tips in this article. Not only will your shopping be a lot easier, but the recipient will probably be a lot happier. For bonus points, you can also use these suggestions any time you need to give a gift to an acquaintance or a business associate from outside your organisation.