October 31st, 2008 by Jurga Galvan
Gift giving in an office environment may be an enjoyable experience for the employees, but it isn’t as effortless as it seems. There are several gift giving etiquette points, as giving business gifts to your clients, partners and employees is completely different from choosing a gift for your partner or a relative. With Christmas virtually on our doorstep, it’s worth remembering a few rules.
Find out the Company Policy regarding business gifts. Some companies have strict policies on the acceptance of corporate gifts, so do a little bit of research before you purchase or accept a gift. The gift should not be perceived as a form of bribery. In some cases organisations and businesses have a limit on the value of the gift that can be accepted.
Do not give an inappropriate gift. By that we mean extremely personal gifts, items showing your affection for the colleague, very expensive or extravagant gifts, such as designer clothing, shoes or high-priced gadgets.
Suitable office Christmas gifts are office-related items such as desk accessories (calendars, stationery, pens, notebooks, mobile phone stands, tea coasters and so on), gift vouchers (book stores, beauty products etc.), tickets to theatre or music events or delicious edible goods (Christmas hampers, a selection of cheeses, fruit basket, a case of wine or a box of luxurious Belgian chocolate). Other great ideas are flowers (especially smaller-sized pot plants ideal to brighten up the recipient’s desk), and humorous (but not rude) gifts.
Try to find out a little more about the person you intend giving the gift to. Do they have a hobby or a specific interest? Can you find something that reflects those hobbies? Try to find a gift that the person can actually use.
Avoid rude, tasteless, unpleasant or intimate gifts. Since you will be giving this gift publicly, with other colleagues present, the choice of the gift will reflect your poor taste and embarrass the person who is getting the gift, which won’t feel festive at all.
Avoid giving gifts with religious undertones. Remember, that not everybody within your office celebrates Christmas. Do not assume that everybody does, and if this is your first year with the company, find out a bit more about what the office team did the previous year.
You can return the gift. And by this we don’t mean you can return the gift to the shop it was purchased from and get the refund! If you receive a gift from a colleague or a client that is obviously too expensive or overly personal, you can send it back with a polite note explaining that because of strict company guidelines you cannot accept it.
Receiving doesn’t mean you have to give back. There is no rule that you must reciprocate if you receive a gift from a colleague or the boss.
Join the Secret Santa scheme of swapping gifts at your office if there is one. Some offices have adapted the Secret Santa way of giving/receiving Christmas gifts, when one employee picks another colleague’s name at random and purchases that person a symbolic, inexpensive gift. This helps avoid the confusion, stress and massive expenses.
Present your gift appropriately. No matter how small your gift is, package it tastefully and show you’ve put some effort into it. You may want to include a handwritten card or a note.
Say thank you. Even if you don’t like the colour of that coffee mug you’ve just been given, be polite and express your gratitude. A smile goes a long way.