Office Holiday Gifting Made Practically Painless

Now that you know how to pick the perfect gift for that “tough to shop for” family member, you should have no problem navigating workplace gift giving etiquette. You probably spend as much time with your coworkers as with your family–perhaps even more!–so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to avoid office holiday gifting entirely. Not to worry, for we’ve covered almost every scenario you might encounter at work this holiday season.

What To Give For Your Office’s Secret Santa Exchange

Love it or loathe it, the Secret Santa gift exchange is one office tradition that’s as ubiquitous as jazzy remixed Christmas carols. No matter your budget or the size of your office, follow a few of our key tips to make picking out a great Secret Santa gift for your coworker easy and fun.

Be mindful of the budget. To minimize awkwardness and financial discomfort among coworkers, many offices set a price cap for their Secret Santa tradition. Modern etiquette expert Maggie Oldham recommends a budget of $25 or less for Secret Santa gifts. Anything more expensive could be perceived as extravagant, and anything obviously less may hurt someone’s feelings.

Do some sleuthing about your recipient. Whether you work in a big cubicle maze or a cozy open office, make an effort to connect with someone who knows your recipient well and ask some pointed questions. This small gesture will make your gift giving significantly easier! Do they secretly root for your city’s rival football team, or have a well-known affinity for chocolate-covered almonds? Even a few tidbits about your recipient’s likes and dislikes can inform the gifts you give.

Keep it office appropriate. It goes without saying that certain gifts aren’t appropriate for a professional setting. Anything worn on or close to the body like jewelry, apparel, cosmetics or fragrances is generally thought to be too intimate for gifts between colleagues and, unless you know your recipient’s tastes well, it’s also wise to avoid gifts of alcohol or especially fragrant candles. You can almost always safely skirt the “Is this okay to give?” issue with a small neutral gift of food, stationery, or something for their desk or office.

Our top holiday gifts for coworkers:

jcoco Chocolate Truffle Bar Trio–This trio of gourmet chocolates comes in delicious, unique flavors and has a great mission, to boot. Every purchase donates a serving of food to a national food bank.

jcoco Chocolate Truffle Bar Trio

jcoco Chocolate Truffle Bar Trio

Frausto & Co. Card Decks–These illustrated card decks are unusual and creative. Pick from wine, whiskey, gardening, coffee, and The Gentleman’s Deck–each full deck is packed with tips and trivia.

Deck of coffee cards

Frausto & Co. The Coffee Deck

Sea Urchin & Air Plant–Every desk needs a decoration. Even if your coworker doesn’t typically keep plants at her desk, she’ll love this low-maintenance air plant in a cute sea urchin shell holder.

Sea Urchin & Air Plant

Sea Urchin & Air Plant

Cool desk stationery–A cool journal is the perfect Secret Santa present; even if they’ve got a few more pages to fill in their current planner, your coworker can happily start the new year with a fresh notebook (and think kindly of you every time they use it!).

Floral daily planner notebook

Rifle Paper Co. 2017-2018 Planner

Holiday Gift Ideas For The Boss

Thinking of giving a gift to your boss? Plan carefully. US News cautions that certain professional expectations may mean a Christmas gift for your boss isn’t necessary:
“Long-established rules of etiquette say that gifts in a workplace should flow downward, not upward – meaning that your boss can give you a gift but you and your co-workers shouldn’t give presents to your managers. This rule exists because of the power dynamics and pay discrepancies in the boss/employee relationship. The idea is otherwise an employee might feel pressured to purchase gifts for a manager, and it’s unseemly for managers to benefit from power dynamics that way.”
However, if you work for a small company or are sending year-end gifts to professional clients or business partners, it may feel more awkward to exclude the boss, in which case–gift on!

The boss WILL notice your gift. In our 2017 Business Gift Satisfaction Survey, we found that “the higher up in a company the recipient was, the more likely they were to report being satisfied with gifts from business partners.” In fact, 95% of “C-suite” recipients report being satisfied with their gifts.

Get the group involved. If the boss in question is not your business partner but, in fact, a direct higher-up, you may feel more comfortable giving a gift if it comes from a group. Check with your team to decide on an appropriate budget, and pool your resources to send something thoughtful and respectful.

Don’t splurge, but don’t skimp. Going overboard on a gift looks desperate–and everyone can tell when a gift is cheap or picked out at the last minute. A little planning goes a long way toward choosing an appropriate boss’s gift.

Our top holiday gifts for your boss:

Moss Terrarium Bottle–They have that great office with the huge windows, so add a little low-maintenance greenery with a moss garden in an upcycled wine bottle.

Moss Terrarium Bottle

Moss Terrarium Bottle

Caffe Autentico–Have your coworkers pitch in on this gift that will appeal to your boss’s caffeine-loving sensibilities, and you’ll ALL look good.

Coffee gift for your boss

Caffe Autentico Coffee Gift

Porcelain Faceted Coffee Mug–Your boss isn’t really the type to boast “#1 Grandpa” on his coffee cup. Give him a distinctive way to enjoy his coffee or tea with one of these geometric handmade mugs instead.

Porcelain Faceted Coffee Mug

Porcelain Faceted Coffee Mug

Holiday Gift Ideas For Service Providers

Depending on where you work, you may have a whole team of people who subtly, graciously, make your life easier. Your building’s doorman or elevator operator, janitor, front desk manager, and mail carrier are all people you may want to include on your gift list to show your appreciation.

A little gesture goes a long way. During the busy holiday season, the helpers are often first on call to thwart emergencies, anticipate the unexpected, and maintain a sense of calm amidst all the hustle and bustle. It’s nice to acknowledge this with a small gift or a cash tip.

Pass on the cash–sometimes. Some professionals, like your USPS mail carrier, are not permitted to accept cash gifts of any kind. Avoid an awkward situation by glancing over company guidelines ahead of time, and instead give a small item under $20 or food gifts that can be shared with their whole branch.

Don’t be a Scrooge! When is a tip more appropriate than a gift? What constitutes a tip instead of a gift? Emily Post has all the answers to your holiday tipping questions.

Our top holiday gifts for service providers:

Illustrated Playing Cards–When it comes to insider tips about your city, the delivery guy and your building’s doorman are the most knowledgeable people you know. These illustrated city playing cards are a fun nod to their expertise.

Illustrated Playing Cards

Illustrated Playing Cards

MiiR Insulated Travel Tumbler–If your front desk manager always has a to-go cup in hand, she’ll love a travel tumbler for eco-friendly coffee runs.

MiiR Vacuum Insulated Daily Tumbler

MiiR Vacuum Insulated Daily Tumbler

CiCi’s Handmade Italian Cookies–Delicious and failsafe, these cookies are well-received by anyone, and you won’t even have to break out the baking pans!

CiCi's Handmade Italian Cookies--Butterhorns

CiCi’s Handmade Italian Cookies–Butterhorns

Holiday Gift Ideas For Clients

Christmas gifts for clients and business partners are a Knack specialty–you can learn all about our business gift strategies, browse our best corporate gift ideas, or get free, personalized help from a gift concierge on our website. In general, business gifting at the holidays is considered a very good idea: it can nurture relationships, reinforce your brand, and ultimately improve your bottom line.

Don’t discount the gourmet gift basket. While the office might be inundated with boxes of snacks and treats at the holidays, it doesn’t mean people are tired of receiving food. In our corporate gifting satisfaction survey, we found that at least 60% of recipients prefer a well-curated gift basket of gourmet food.

Think unique and useful. 83% of business gift recipients prefer items that are unique and useful. Branded sticky notes and computer mousepads? They don’t fly with discerning recipients, and can really ding your brand’s reputation. Instead, give something special from your city or their city, or find an item that aligns with their company values.

Whatever you do, leave a note. One particular stat from our business gift survey made us all sad: Of corporate gift recipients surveyed in the Midwest, a whopping 65% report that their gifts didn’t come with a personal note! A gift message, whether typed or handwritten, makes your recipient feel special and shows that you took the time to think of them.

Great food gift ideas for the office:

Salami Sampler

Salami gourmet gift basket

Salami Sampler Gift Set

Champagne & Caramels

Champagne caramels gift

Champagne & Caramels

Sweet & Salty Snack Box

sweet salty office snacks gift

Sweet & Salty Snack Box