August 02, 2014
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WNY Woman

Dos and Don'ts for Exchanging Gifts with Coworkers

When among the masses shopping for holiday gifts, consumers might want to take a close look at the expressions on their fellow shoppers' faces. Note the ones whose eyes are glazed over, who are anxiously biting their bottom lips or seem to be exhibiting recurring facial twitches. These are not individuals on the verge of a nervous breakdown. In fact, many are otherwise well adjusted people in the throes of choosing holiday gifts for their coworkers or bosses.

While there is nothing inherently complicated about choosing tokens of appreciation for one's associates or superiors, the challenge is not just choosing the right token, but in choosing something without the potential to offend or confuse the recipient.

To help make the process go smoothly from purchase to presentation, here are some of the chief do's and don'ts for office gift-giving.

Do:
* Make sure that you know your company's policy on gift-giving. For example, are there specified or unstated spending limits?
* Be clear about who should be on your gift list. Do you get gifts for everyone in your department or just those individuals with whom you interact most frequently?
* Choose thoughtful and tasteful gifts, whether buying a different item for each person or the same item for all.
* Consider gifts that can be used in the office, such as distinctive office supplies, a photo frame, gadget, calendar, or pen.
* Go for gifts that can be shared either at home or work, such as gourmet food items, books or plants.
* Find out if colleagues have food or plant allergies before selecting gifts in those categories.
* Take the time to package and wrap gifts with care.

Don't:
* Overspend, especially when purchasing a gift for your boss.
* Give presents to colleagues outside of your "gift circle" in order to make a good impression or curry favor.
* Choose "joke" or "gag" gifts, even for coworkers you think you know well. While the recipient might appreciate the gesture, it could be misinterpreted by others.
* Re-gift or give items that are used or in anything but pristine condition.
* Stray outside the limits of "good taste." In other words, don't even think about gifts that could be considered too personal (including clothing, perfume or jewelry) or are in any way political, religious, racial, or sexual. And unless you are absolutely certain of the recipient's tastes and habits, steer clear of alcoholic beverages of any kind.
* Give gifts that can be misconstrued as having a hidden meaning or agenda, such as flowers (especially roses), cash, lingerie, or personal hygiene products.
* Leave anyone out. Hurt feelings are hard to overcome and can strain otherwise productive working relationships.

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