It is the last few working days before the holidays and you are tidying up loose ends when suddenly it happens — a co-worker gives you a gift. We’ve all been there — I call it the unexpected gift syndrome — you didn’t put this person on your list, or thought a card would suffice, or simply forgot this person existed. Gift-giving is meant to be a kind gesture and ideally one we do at our own discretion without any guilty ties. However, in a workplace things seem to be more about protocol and less about what we actually want.
“Many times there are two sets of gift-giving rules in a corporation: The official version and the unofficial version,” says Sharon Hanby-Robie, author of A Simple Christmas: A Faith-filled Guide To Meaningful And Stressfree Christmas. “The best place to start your discovery process is with HR — they will give you the official version. Then scout out more answers from your peers. They are your best bet for finding out what those in the trenches really do.”
Buying a present for the boss is also a touchy situation, and can make you look like a brown-noser.
“Showing appreciation for your boss is good if it is sincere. Again, there may be an official policy in place that says, ‘no gifts.’ In that case, a handwritten note of appreciation and an offer to buy lunch might be most appreciated.”
Hanby-Robie also suggests keeping to a reasonable budget. Buying something pricey won’t win you any points.
“Most companies stay with $20 and under, which makes it hard to buy much of anything — and that is the idea,” she says. “You don’t really want to work for a company that expects you to buy extravagant gifts for those you work with.”
This season my co-workers and I have decided to do a Secret Santa with a limit of $5. With such a small budget it makes it much harder to find a present, but forces you to be creative.
“Do you homework,” suggests Hanby-Robie. “It’s OK to be exceptional at your job, but buying your way to appreciation is not the correct way to proceed.”
Kavita Gosyne, 26, is a vibrant young journalist graduate. She writes about her transition from student to employee and the issues she faces such as office politics.
Stuck for ideas?
Sharon Hanby-Robie, author of A Simple Christmas: A Faith-filled Guide To Meaningful And Stressfree Christmas, offers a few suggestions for what to get a colleague: