Should You Give Coworker Gifts This Holiday Season?

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The holiday season is approaching quickly, and many professionals are asking themselves a critical question: should you give coworkers gifts? Technically, handing out presents to colleagues isn’t required, but it can be a way to brighten spirits and show your appreciation.

Still, you need to approach coworker gifts strategically. If you’re considering handing out holiday presents to some colleagues this year, here’s what you need to consider.

Company Policies

Some organizations do have policies regarding gift-giving at work. As a result, it’s wise to review the employee handbook and similar resources to determine if guidelines are in place.

Additionally, factor in any unwritten rules that may apply to the situation. Company cultures do vary, and some organizations may have cultures that make giving gifts in certain contexts appropriate or inappropriate, so it’s best to consider that before moving forward.

Who to Put on Your List

For most professionals, buying a gift for everyone in the company isn’t plausible. Since that’s the case, you’ll want to determine who you’d like to have on the list. Coworkers on your team or in your department are potentially worthy inclusions. You could also consider other people you engage with regularly (including support staff) or colleagues you have relationships with where there’s also a social component.

What Your Budget Can Support

When you’re buying gifts for colleagues, you need to make sure that what you spend seems reasonable. Going overboard could make the recipient uncomfortable, so you need to choose a limit that’s not going to raise eyebrows. Often, $10 to $30 per person is a solid range.

Also, you need to make sure that what you plan on spending won’t hurt you financially. While giving a gift is nice, it’s not worth putting yourself in a bind, so keep that in mind.

Choose Gifts Carefully

When selecting gifts, it’s typically best to avoid anything controversial. Pushing boundaries with a present that some may view as inappropriate is never wise. That means avoiding gifts with sayings that may seem uncouth, as well as anything with a religious or political connotation (unless your company is specifically religiously or politically oriented).

How to Exchange Gifts

Unless you’re buying gifts of practically equal value for everyone in your workplace, you need to be cautious when handing out presents. Don’t give one coworker a gift in front of another colleague who isn’t receiving one from you, as it can make the latter person feel left out.

In some cases, avoiding exchanging gifts while in the workplace entirely is the better choice. Just be aware that word spreading about your presents could still lead to some tension when others find out, particularly if they thought their relationship with you was close.

Don’t Feel Pressured

In the vast majority of cases, giving gifts to colleagues isn’t required. If you’re not comfortable with the idea or aren’t financially able, you don’t have to participate. Even if someone else gives you a present, you can still decline to reciprocate with a gift. Instead, acknowledge the gesture with a thank you card and a handwritten note, as that is generally low-cost and suitably polite.

Ultimately, the tips above can help you navigate gift-giving to coworkers this holiday season. If you’d like to give yourself the gift of a new job before the year comes to an end, Hamilton-Ryker wants to hear from you. Explore our job listings or contact one of our recruiters today.

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