Gift-Giving in the Office: Do's & Don’ts

By Chai Fook Tien

It’s that time of the year again! With Christmas around the corner, you can just feel the joy and holiday spirit in the air. For some of us though, it is also a period of frustration because of the prospect of giving and receiving holiday presents in the office. We tear our hair out worrying about what gifts are appropriate to give to the people we interact with at work.

Do we give a gift to everyone in the office? Are we obligated to give a gift to our bosses? Is it appropriate to give a gag gift? Well, look no further for the answers to these pressing questions. While there aren’t any hard and fast rules about gift-giving, you can follow the following guidelines to ensure that the festivities are more enjoyable for everyone involved.



• …research the office gift giving policy. Knowing the guidelines will give you a clear course of action on how you should proceed.

• …use your common sense. Simply ask yourself whether you will want to receive what you’re about to give someone else. If the answer is no, then you know what to do.

• …spend time and effort to choose gifts. Try to think about the recipient’s hobbies or favourite activities when choosing a present. Your colleagues will appreciate that you’ve actually put thought into your presents.

• …stay within the budget that your workplace has set for gifts. If you go overboard, you’ll be making things awkward for the people who followed the rules.

• …consider the setting where the gift will be opened. You may have a close (or even intimate) relationship with a colleague, but know that the rest of the office might be able to see what you’re giving to this person. It’s going to be embarrassing if your boss sees that mug with some sort of dirty joke written on it, so it’ll be better to save such gifts for other occasions.


• …go overboard on the gifts, especially for the boss. Your colleagues (maybe even your boss) may view this as an attempt at brown-nosing. A small token of appreciation is all that is necessary for your boss.

• …give a gag gift. What is funny to you may not be as humorous to someone else. Also your recipient won’t be feeling good when they look around the office and see that they’re the only one who didn’t receive a proper gift.

• …give perishables such as food items to people who will be away from the office. If they don’t have time to eat what you’ve made, your present is just going to go stale as it sits on their desks for weeks.

• …be a spoil-sport. If you refuse to join in the fun and festivities with everyone else, you’ll just be seen as the office Grinch.

• …wait till the last minute to do your Christmas shopping. You’re just going to have a bad time when you find out that everything is out of stock. It’ll also be obvious to your colleagues that you haven’t put much thought into your gifts.

If all you want for Christmas is to find a job of your dreams, then check out our jobs listings at JobsCentral!

Career Central Tags: