I was always puzzled by colleague-gift-etiquette. Trying to figure this out broaches that taboo topic of colleague v. friend, which can be tricky.
Or, what if I get a present for my boss, and no one else does? Teacher's pet flashbacks haunt me.
And we all know that moment when someone hands you a gift, and you avoid eye contact while replying: "Oh! I was planning to bring yours tomorrow. I didn't know we were exchanging today."
A couple years ago, I read an article that suggested these tips for buying office gifts:
- Buy a little something for people who work for you.
- Possibly buy something for your colleagues / teammates (much easier if you agree ahead of time to do a Secret Santa or Yankee Swap).
- Don't buy anything for your boss, unless you've established from years past that you exchange gifts. However, a great alternative to this is organizing a group gift among all your boss's direct reports.
This is an admittedly conservative stance, but I've used it over the past couple years, and it's worked well for me. It eliminates choice and overthinking during a time of the year when we're all overstimulated anyway. Plus, during one of my 2 year job stints, I went through 9 bosses! I didn't want to get a gift for the newest boss in my life, and this gave me the justification not to. However, so that I always have something physical to share and acknowledge that I'm thinking of him / her, I typically have a thoughtful handwritten note ready, thanking the person for whatever lessons, help, etc. (s)he's gifted me throughout the year.
But if you decide that a gift is that right way to go, what's office-appropriate?
Here are 9 colleague-approved ideas:
PS - In London offices, there's no politically correct "Happy Holidays!" Saying "Merry Christmas" is the norm. My first Christmas in London, colleagues constantly called me out for being American when I would say "Happy Holidays." Funny cultural difference!
PPS - First image by the Vienna Review. We'll be exploring Vienna Christmas markets in 2 weeks!