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Holiday Office Gift Giving Guide   

Dr. Greg Ketchum, 12/11/04

Well the holidays are here and for many people in the office that raises the question of gift giving at work. Remember the Seinfeld episode where George C. decides to make up a charity, the Human Fund, and then gives cards to co-workers saying that a donation had been made in their name to the “Human Fund.” Well, that’s one way to handle it, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

The big questions for most people are “do I give gifts at work, what’s expected, who do I give to, what do I give?”

First, here are some examples of critical mistakes and key success factors concerning holiday office gift giving.

3 Critical Mistakes

  1. Don’t be a “re-gifter.”
  2. Don’t give booze or anything remotely sexual or too personal.
  3. Don’t be obvious about excluding someone.

3 Key Success Factors

  1. Find out the office customs & policy before giving.
  2. Give to those who’ve supported you throughout the year. Thank you.
  3. Be sensitive to cultural factors.

Here are some action steps to help you successfully navigate your way through the challenge of holiday office gift giving.

Action Steps

  1. Set a Limit: Spend no more than the IRS allows, which is $25. Most companies encourage gifts in the $15 to $20 range.
  2. A Gift for the Boss: Avoid the politics and appearance of brown nosing by taking up a collection and buying a team gift.
  3. Alternatives to Individual Gifts: Give to the whole team by treating the office to coffee, pastry and other snacks one morning during the holidays.

If All Else Fails And You’re Caught Without a Gift

  1. Volunteer: Suggest that you will organize a day for your team members to volunteer at a local charity. Be prepared, identify some charities, and keep this in your back pocket.

Following these simple action steps can help you avoid those awkward “I got a gift but I didn’t get anything for anyone” situations.

If you’ve got work or career topics you’d like to see us address just send me an email at drgreg@talentplanet.com.

Additional Resources





®2004 Gregory A. Ketchum, Ph.D. All rights reserved.

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Dr. Greg is the “KRON 4 (San Francisco) Workplace and Career Expert”

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