Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Holiday Gifting at Work

Posted by Rose Strong

It’s that time of year again, when we begin to think about holiday celebrations at the office. We’ve all been there, right? You drive into work and hear the holiday music on the radio and see the festive light decorations on the way home and start wondering about gifts for co-workers and the boss.

I come from a large corporate culture where buying gifts for an entire unit or office section could leave you broke; it was usually the Secret Santa path I often had to travel this time of year. I liked that there was a monetary value limit to the gift exchange and we typically went in as a group, each person contributing a set amount to purchase a nice gift for our manager. This was a somewhat generic solution to a sticky situation, but, easy overall.

As this is my first holiday season here at Furia Rubel, the idea of the season’s celebration in the office had been on my mind for a few weeks. I asked one of my co-workers what the gift-giving culture is at our office. She explained that up until a couple years ago, they used to give gifts to one another, but a few folks felt the obligatory giving was too stressful. It was decided there would no longer be gift-giving at the holidays and the staff have opted for a scaled-down celebration. We’ll have a pot-luck lunch (with emails going around indicating some great food to come) and ‘no obligation’ on gifts, but homemade food gifts are always welcome. That’s nice considering Furia Rubel has some top notch cooks and bakers.
As an aside, the staff at Furia Rubel will be fortunate enough to receive some additional time off over the holidays as an extra gift. The office will be closed from Christmas Eve through New Years. An extra week of vacation at this time of year is a present we’re all grateful to have.

However, your gift-giving may not be so easy.

This is the time of year when we want to thank folks who have been helpful in our day-to-day jobs, supportive of our careers and those who have mentored us, so it’s worth taking time to plan what to do.

Unless you want to be perceived as the office brownnoser, gifting-up is one of those actions you need to proceed with caution. An article in Ladies Home Journal points the way toward a manager’s hobbies or donating to a charity in their name as being rather safe for gift-giving.
If you don’t do a Secret Santa or even if you do, but want to give to someone who has done something special over the past year, the inter-cubicle gifts should be given as discreetly as possible, so as not to ruffle other co-workers’ feathers.

Here are a few of the many suggestions out there regarding the office Secret Santa gifts:

1.    Decide on a spending cap and stick to it. Setting a limit and sticking to it eliminates others thinking you are playing favorites, especially if you happen to pick out the name of someone you socialize with in and out of work.

2.    If a co-worker is unable to participate, be considerate. Some people, either due to finances, religious or cultural differences, prefer not to partake in holiday giving and their wishes should be respected.

3.    Avoid personal items such as jewelry, cologne or clothes. Some things are just too personal for the office friendships unless you truly know the person or are longtime colleagues.

4.    Write your own gift ideas on the Secret Santa gift slip. Everyone who participates may write on the slip of paper they’ll put into the collective hat that’s passed around with co-workers names in it and may list up to three things they would appreciate that would stick within the allotted budget, i.e., candles, gift card to a book store or movie tickets, to name a few.

Giving to the boss? A few tips to make you look less like the office brownnoser and more like you truly appreciated them through the past year:

1.    Don’t gift-up on your own. It’s important to recognize that the boss can see that you may be trying to ingratiate yourself to them. Some like it, but most do not and neither do your fellow employees. Decide on a dollar amount you will give for a collective gift.

2.    Make a charitable donation in their name. What manager needs another tchotchke to collect dust on their desk or shelf at home? Making a gift in their name to a reputable charity or the charity of their choice makes a difference in someone’s life.

3.    Tickets to a show or sporting event. Be sure to purchase at the very least, a pair of tickets.

4.    If someone is unable to participate – Understand regardless of their reason and have them sign their name to the card out of courtesy, if they’d like. Holiday gifting to the boss doesn’t need to be stressful, and for those who don’t participate, it can be worrisome as to how givers and non-givers are perceived in management’s eyes.

Remember, the season is about giving. If you get a gift from someone and didn’t get them one, a simple thank you is all they need. Reciprocating simply because you’ve been given a gift isn’t what the holiday season is about.

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