Expert Perspectives on Giving Holiday Gifts to Coworkers: What You Need to Know


Mastering Holiday Gift-Giving in the Workplace

When it comes to workplace etiquette, navigating the holiday season can be particularly tricky. Many bosses compare the office to a family, but finding the balance between professionalism and festivity can lead to confusion, especially when it comes to gift-giving. The question of whether to give gifts to coworkers and bosses is one that often arises during this time of year. To shed light on this matter, Newsweek consulted with human resources and workplace etiquette experts to provide insightful guidance on navigating holiday gift-giving in the workplace.

Should You Give Your Coworkers Holiday Gifts?

Deciding whether to give gifts to your colleagues can be challenging. According to Kim Colbert, Global Head of Employee Relations at Ceridian, there is no obligation to give gifts to your coworkers. She emphasizes that it’s important to consider that not everyone celebrates the holiday season in the same way, or at all. Robert Kaskel, Chief People Officer at Checkr, highlights that gift-giving should never feel obligatory and should instead be viewed as a genuine gesture of kindness. Jodi Smith, president and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, advises employees to familiarize themselves with their office’s guidelines on gift giving. Understanding these guidelines can provide clarity on whether giving gifts to coworkers aligns with the company’s standards.

Should You Give Your Boss a Holiday Gift?

When it comes to giving gifts to a supervisor, the situation becomes more complex. While some may shy away from giving their boss a gift due to concerns about power dynamics, Robert Kaskel notes that genuine friendships can develop between managers and employees, and it’s acceptable to acknowledge this with a modest expression of appreciation. Kim Colbert adds that over her experience of leading teams, she has never expected her team to give her gifts, emphasizing that there should be no pressure on employees to give their bosses gifts. Jodi Smith further clarifies that the exception to this rule is the relationship between a boss and their executive secretary, which carries a unique dynamic.

How to Choose Office Christmas Gifts

Choosing the right gifts for your coworkers requires thoughtful consideration and adherence to workplace norms. Keeping gifts within a reasonable budget is crucial, as emphasized by Kim Colbert, who suggests a cap of around $25 per coworker. Additionally, considering non-traditional gifts such as holiday cards or charitable donations can be meaningful gestures. The optics of gift-giving should also be taken into account, as the choices made can impact one’s professional image within the workplace. Jodi Smith advises caution when it comes to gag gifts, recommending that they are best reserved for social settings. Furthermore, she emphasizes the importance of not getting too personal with gifts, as this can lead to discomfort among coworkers.

Ultimately, the decision to give gifts in the workplace during the holiday season is a personal one. While some may opt to demonstrate their appreciation through gifts, others may choose to forego this practice. Regardless of individual choices, the key lies in considering workplace guidelines and the comfort levels of both coworkers and bosses. By navigating this terrain with respect and sensitivity, employees can foster a harmonious and inclusive workplace culture during the festive season.


Micheal Kurt

I earned a bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from Oregon State University. He is an avid sports lover who enjoys tennis, football, and a variety of other activities. He is from Tucson, Arizona, and is a huge Cardinals supporter.

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