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To Gift or Not to Gift: Office Gift Giving Etiquette Tips

Office Gift giving

During the holidays, the rules for gift giving in the workplace are tricky. Many people are simply unsure of the protocol when it comes to inter-cubicle gift giving.

How much should I spend on a coworker?

Should I buy for my boss?

What should I buy my staff?

All of these questions are common this time of year.

Gift giving during the holiday season provides you with an opportunity to say “thank you” to those people who have supported you during the year—and that includes coworkers and mentors.

There are no mandatory holiday gift giving rules when it comes to how much to spend, however, some workplaces have guidelines in place that you must adhere to when giving gifts at the office. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than the tax credit allowed in your country for professional gifts. In the U.S., the IRS allows a $25 tax deduction for each professional gift.

When buying for your boss, keep in mind that he likely has enough gadgets and trinkets. Be modest and consider doing something unique this year, such as making a donation to one of his or her favorite charities in the recipient’s name.

If you’re the boss, it’s a good idea to keep your radar up all year—listening in for your employees’ hobbies and interests. This will save you time choosing the perfect gift to give each one during the holidays. And it will make them feel appreciated!

Some gift-giving inspiration.

Just can’t figure out what to buy? Here are a few ideas for you:

  1. Wine. When you give someone a bottle of wine, they can enjoy it now or save it for a long time.

  2. Chocolate. Dark chocolate is not only decadent, but it’s good for you! The perfect gift for everyone on your list!

  3. Treat someone to a service. Giving someone “permission” to treat themselves is the perfect gift.

  4. Food. During the holiday season, there are many stores that offer pre-made savory or sweet food hampers–or you can get creative and create a basket of goodies!

  5. Gift card. A gift card from Amazon is always a favorite gift because it gives the recipient an opportunity to buy whatever she wants anytime of year – guilt-free!

If you’re thinking about giving gifts to your customers this year, make sure you think about this first:

  1. Don’t give expensive gifts, but those intended to make the customer feel as though you appreciate them (not obligated to buy from you.)

  2. Don’t send gifts to prospective customers. By giving a gift too early in your business relationship, the intention may be misconstrued. Gifts are appropriate only if you have an ongoing business relationship.

  3. Don’t send promotional gifts. When sending a gift to a customer, refrain from sending something that’s tagged with your logo or brand. Save those items for trade shows and business events.

  4. DO send something of meaning. Tying a gift to a customer’s hobby or outside interest shows that you value the relationship.

The most important aspect of gift giving is that it comes from your heart so if you’re wondering where to draw the line, go with your instincts. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of giving a particular person a gift, then don’t do it.

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