Gifts & Gratuities for Government Employees


Purchasing a gift or gratuity for a government employee is something that is permitted, but it must follow certain rules. These rules are in place to avoid the practice of buying expensive gifts in an attempt to influence the votes or actions of government employees. Not only are there rules in place for those from outside the office, but the government has limited the gifts that can be purchased among coworkers in the office as well.

Value Of Gifts

  • Government employees can only accept gifts of certain value from individuals as a gift in the workplace. This is done to limit undue influence based on the value of gifts according to the website. The limit is $20 for a single gift or $50 in total value of gifts from a single individual or organization throughout the year. These rules do not apply to gifts received from family members or friends that are unrelated to relationships in the workplace.

Gifts For Direct Supervisors

  • Gift giving from an employee to a supervisor in the executive branch is permitted if the gift is under $10 in value according to the United States Office of Government Ethics website. There are some exceptions to this rule. One exception is that food over that value can be given if it is shared with others in the office. If a supervisor gets married or has a child a gift of higher value may be presented, but it cannot be of significantly higher value than what the average gift would be, in an attempt to influence their supervisor.


  • Collectible items can be given as a gift to government employees. Some examples of collectible items include figurines or "action figures" of famous political figures in history. Another collectible that government employees may enjoy receiving are trading cards. Some trading card manufacturers create cards for special events such as Desert Storm or famous political families.

Patriotic Clothing

  • Patriotic clothing comes in several different styles. For the government employee that must wear a suit and tie to work every day, a tie with a picture of the United States flag is appropriate. Another option would be a pin or cuff link that has either the American flag or another political symbol on it. For casual wear, a shirt featuring the image of a famous political character from history or a patriotic design can be given as a gift.

Sports Equipment

  • Sports equipment can be purchased with different political symbols printed on them. As an example, a set of golf balls can be purchased with the U.S. Senate's seal or the presidential seal on them. These graphics can also be found on baseball caps or sporting gloves.

Decorative Items

  • Purchase decorative items with political symbols as a gift. The White House releases a new Christmas tree ornament each year that can be purchased at the White House gift shop as well as other locations that sell political items. Plates can also be purchased that feature political symbols or pictures of politicians that can be displayed in the home. Another popular decorative item is the United States Flag. You can even purchase one from the U.S. Capitol that has been flown above the Capitol Building.

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