Since it’s the season of giving, I am posting some advice on how to practice gift giving this Christmas.
Let’s start with the Office. The Office is a tricky one since there are all kinds of people here - people we like, admire, hate and even envy. So here are a few tips:
What gifts to give really depend on your organizational culture. In fact, business etiquette books do not really require one to give gifts. So it is important to focus on the meaning of the gift and not the cost. The more lavish the gift, the more awkward it will be for the receiver (esp. if it’s your boss). In fact, I discourage you to give gifts of value to your boss because first, it might be perceived as means of forming a more favorable attachment to him/her or a way of asking favor.
But if you still feel that you really want to show your thanks through a gift, keep it simple or better yet, ask the rest of the group to share on the gift so it’s not just you getting the credit.
If you want it safe and simple, a heartfelt email will do.
For the rest of your colleagues, it is important to ask yourself the nature of your relationships with them. For close associates, it maybe helpful to give gifts according to his or her personality. But for passing acquaintances, a generic gift of equal value given to all is the way to go. Afterall, you don’t want them comparing (and yes, even complaining).
One more thing, if you are not giving all of your co employees, be discreet in distributing gifts. Either you do it when everyone else is not yet on their tables or give it individually at an appropriate time and place.
And of course, you can always give free snacks like pizza or pasta which everyone will surely love. No gift wrapping involved :-)
Now for our family and friends. I am guilty in this because I usually give gifts that I want for myself. So for the last years, I have practiced asking them what they want for Christmas (within limits of course!) so I am less likely to make mistakes.
The trick is, not to give exactly what they want but a better or a more personal version of it so you don't ruin the surprise factor. Creative thinking skills are still required.
An example would be, if a cousin wanted a bubble bath set for Christmas, you may give him/her a spa gift certificate package instead.
For ladies – books, jewelry, accessories, bags and beauty sets are most appreciated.
For the guys – gadgets, no less.
For the kids? You can’t go wrong with toys and chocolates (though I usually prefer giving books).
For your significant other, it may sound cliché but your time, presence and faithfulness should be a great combo. An intimate trip out of town or a nice romantic dinner will do too.
For Moms, homemakers and the like – gift certificates. Trust me, they know what to do with it.
Lastly, don’t be pressured, acknowledge their thanks gracefully and don’t expect a gift back. Afterall, this is the season of giving not receiving.
Best of luck for the Holidays!
Note: I'm enclosing this nice pic I saw from the net: