Friday, July 11, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Holiday office gifts: Should you go there?

It’s the holiday season, and that means gifts galore. But just how do you toe the line between thoughtful gift-giving and a professional faux pas?

Many office workers are probably wondering if they should give gifts to coworkers and bosses this holiday season. And rightfully so—knowing whether or not a gift is appropriate can be tough to discern. For example, some offices may give their boss a bottle of his favorite whiskey, but that wouldn’t fly in a stricter corporate culture. Still, good workers and leaders show their appreciation every chance they get. Thoughtfulness goes a long way in the art of building a career, so skipping out on a gift can be a heartless move altogether.

To stop the holiday hand-wringing, here are a few suggestions for making office gift decisions this year:

Make sure all gifts are appropriate. Use your best judgement on this one. Gag gifts can be a lot of fun, but if you’re in a strict office environment, it may be best not to toe the line with anything too risqué.

Be careful with gifts like alcohol, too. If you, your coworkers, and your boss regularly enjoy happy hour, a bottle or wine cooler could be an appropriate gift. But if your boss spends more time in meetings with clients and at home with his cats than socializing, it may be best to reconsider.

Give coworkers something unique and useful. If you’re not close with coworkers outside of the office and are unsure of their interests or passions, it’s always a safe bet to stick to useful office decor. Mashable recently featured a great list of unique gifts for coworkers, including a bubble wrap calendar, pivoting power strips, and a briefcase business card holder. The web offers countless options for finding gifts that will stand out, so when in doubt, turn to this as your best resource.

Avoid gift cards. This is a surefire way to show your laziness. Sure, if a huge project comes up in December and your whole office is strapped for time, it could be tempting to turn to something quick and easy. But thoughtfulness goes a long way. If you must give a gift card, be sure to pair it with a quirky, personalized card, too.

Remember: food isn’t forever. Food is another common office gift, but it tends to get re-gifted—or worse, thrown in the trash. If you want to show your appreciation and thoughtfulness, go the extra mile instead of filling the office fridge with yet another sweet treat or smelly assorted cheese plate. Aim to give something that will last longer than the time it takes to chew.

Use the power of social media. If you’re feeling crafty or especially dedicated to personalization, Pinterest is chock full of DIY projects for the holidays. Many can be accomplished in just one weekend. Simply search “DIY holiday gifts” or “DIY office gifts” to see your options.

Finding an appropriate office gift for your boss or coworkers doesn’t have to come with anxiety. Use these tips for showing your thoughtfulness this holiday season.

What are some great gifts you’ve given or received from coworkers?

Ilya Pozin is a father, husband and founder of Open Me, a social greeting card company. Named one of Inc.’s ‘30 Under 30’ entrepreneurs, he’s made a career as a mentor, investor, and workplace productivity and leadership enthusiast. Ilya is also an avid writer, with his columns appearing on Inc., Forbes and LinkedIn. Originally from Russia, he currently resides in L.A. with his wife and two daughters. You can keep up with Ilya on Twitter.

Ilya Pozin
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