A couple of people have asked me to write about gift-giving at work. Here are the guidelines I espouse:
1. Don’t buy a gift for your boss (with the exception in #2 below).
2. It’s nice to bring in food items for people at this time of year, either something you leave in the kitchen for the whole office to share or individually wrapped baked goods that you give to people .. and this is the one thing I’d advocate giving to your boss. (I make rum balls, doubling the rum. This is generally a hit.) This can also count as your gifts to people, and you don’t need to do anything else if you do this.
3. You don’t need to do anything else anyway, if you don’t want to. Gifts aren’t obligatory.
4. A corollary to #3: Don’t feel pressured into spending money on anything you can’t afford.
5. Don’t give an extravagant gift to that coworker down the hall who you have a crush on, because that’s going to be awkward. Unless it’s a framed photo of yourself, in which case I think you’re awesome.
6. If your office does a group gift exchange, try to find something fun (and low-cost) to do with it so that you don’t have a bunch of people struggling to find gifts for people they might not know that well. For instance, I recently heard about an office that did a sock exchange: Everyone had to buy one pair of socks, wrap it, and bring it in, and then they did that Yankee Swap thing where you can steal a gift from someone else or choose a new one. People got really into finding weird, garish, or generally ridiculous socks and apparently all found it hilarious. Do something like that.
7. Don’t give inappropriate gifts, like the time I turned 21 and my creepy boss gave me a pack of wine coolers and a gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret.
That’s all I’ve got. What did I miss?