Office Etiquette for Christmas Gifts


Christmas, which started as a religious holy day, has become a major factor in the world economy. While it can be a feeling of friendly generosity that moves you to give a gift to a friend or family member, sometimes it's a feeling of obligation that makes you participate in the process with co-workers. Whether you feel pressured or excited to express your Christmas spirit by giving or receiving gifts at work, be sure to follow a few etiquette guidelines to retain your professionalism.

Company Policy

  • Before you give or accept any gifts, either from co-workers or firms with which your company does business, research your organization's policy on corporate gifts. Some companies have a strict no-gift policy out of fear that they might be used as a form of bribery. Others have definite monetary limits on the gifts their employees may accept. Don't jeopardize your career by flouting these guidelines.

Gifts for the Boss

  • In most cases it is not appropriate for an employee to give a Christmas gift to his boss. It may be seen as an inappropriate attempt to gain favor, so stick to a card if you want to give something personal. It is OK for employees to give a gift from the group, if policy permits it; consider either something that will be useful for a well-known hobby (such as sports gear or theater tickets) or a donation in her name to the boss' favorite charity.

Gifts to Employees

  • If you are the boss, giving Christmas gifts to your employees can be a very nice gesture. Avoid giving anything too personal, such as lingerie or perfume; though in the case of personal assistants you should try to gear the gift to their interests. For gifts to general employees, don't give anything branded with the company logo; it looks like you raided the stockroom at the last minute. Think gift certificates, anything from a coffee card to a spa day, as long as it's the same to everyone. Grocery store cards are very useful during the holiday season. Of course, it's hard to beat a Christmas bonus or a paid half-day off.

Gifts Among Employees

  • If you want to give gifts to one or two co-workers with whom you're especially friendly, do it after hours or at least very discreetly. If you want to give everyone little tokens, things that can be used at the office are very appropriate gifts. Think calendars, food baskets, or potted plants. If you cook, make candy or cookies, wrap them in pretty boxes or tins and put one on every desk. If your office does a Secret Santa swap, follow the rules and don't spend too much on your gift. It will backfire and make the recipient feel he's been too cheap.

Corporate Gifts

  • If your company sends out Christmas gifts to your customers, this is the place where your logo is appropriate on calendars, gift books and Christmas cards. Gift baskets are welcome too. Think gourmet chocolates, fruit or cookies. If you're giving more individualized gifts to important business associates, try personalizing them. Consider paperweights, card cases, money clips or barware engraved with the recipient's initials, or their names embossed on leather wallets, portfolios or briefcases. Give good quality gifts, as they will reflect your company's image.

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