Six Rules on Gift-Giving at Work

Just how often does either party to gift exchanges like the outcome? Not to mention the dicey office politics:

"As the holidays approach, the season of potential gift-giving at the office can range from pleasantly surprising to painfully awkward.

"Navigating the social and professional landscape can be difficult, but there are ways to avoid alienating colleagues with embarrassment or hurt feelings, career experts say. Co-workers who are also friends can exchange gifts off site, for example, and those who want to get the boss a present can go in as a group to be as inclusive as possible.

"The first order of business for those looking to play Santa is to check the company handbook or consult its human-resources manager to see if there’s a policy on office gift-giving.

"Many employers are erring on the side of caution these days in anything that could be construed as fodder for a lawsuit, and some may extend limits on gifts to and from business associates to the interoffice realm as well, said Deborah Brown-Volkman, a career coach in East Moriches, N.Y., and author of the forthcoming book ‘How to Feel Great at Work Everyday.’


"Here are six suggestions for gift-giving at work without putting people on the spot or breaking team camaraderie:

  1. Keep it voluntary.
  2. Weigh a gift to the boss carefully, since others may perceive it as inappropriate or an attempt to curry favor.
  3. Be mindful of income differences and financial pressures when soliciting group gifts.
  4. Don’t present a gift to someone you don’t know well just because it’s the holiday season.
  5. Gifts among peers are best exchanged off site and after hours to avoid anyone feeling excluded.
  6. What if you receive an unforeseen gift?"

I have mixed feelings about giving gifts to co-workers. And getting them (but I do love book gifts!). How do you handle this gift-giving season?