Buying holiday gifts for your office mates can be tricky. Some of the most common concerns are to give or not to give, what gifts to give, and how much to spend on gifts. Below are a few guidelines to follow when gift giving at the office to avoid any potential legal issues and ensure that the most appropriate gifts are given.
1. Establish a budget and stick to it – $15 to $20 per person is the norm. Try to avoid giving really expensive gifts that could make others feel obligated to do the same. If you're a manager giving gifts to your employees you want to avoid showing favoritism so make sure your gifts are somewhat equivalent in value.
2. Know who your giving gifts to – Always err on the safe side and avoid giving gifts that could be misconstrued such as gifts with romantic undertones or inappropriate in nature.
3. Don't suck up to managers – Do not give your managers really expensive gifts. Stick to the budget. Talk with other coworkers and find out what sort of gifts they purchased for their managers in the past. You don't want your gift to be misinterpreted.
4. Avoid personal / intimate gifts – If you know someone well then this might be ok, however try to avoid gifts such as clothes, jewelry, and other personal items.
5. Find out what types of gifts are appropriate – A few examples of safe gifts for the office are coffee mugs, calendars, portable power sticks, pens, ear phones, etc.. Try to avoid gag gifts because you never know how they might take it.
For employers, managers, and human resources having a clear policy on gift giving at the office is a good idea, however a gift exchange policy should be optional. Allow employees to opt-in rather than having to opt-out. The whole point of it is to show appreciation for each other in a meaningful way.