Do you get anxious when it comes to the responsibility of coordinating holiday gifts at the office? Again, we are at that wonderful time of year, but it can also be stressful, especially when navigating the office’s gift-giving minefield.

A customary gesture can either create division or boost morale. Your intentions may be right, but you may unknowingly cause problems with co-workers. There are ways to avoid this with well thought out gift gifting etiquette and holiday office party celebrations.

The goal is to leave everyone with a warm and fuzzy feeling and holiday cheer.

Before you begin your shopping and planning, the following are some simple guidelines to help you spread holiday cheer when it comes to celebrating and gift-giving at work.
It’s Not Just About the Gift

When done right, this should be a positive workplace experience. Now, more than ever, is the perfect time to think about a community-minded effort. By adding this dimension, you can show your generosity and create new company traditions. You or someone in your company assigned to this assignment can accomplish this by choosing a charity that means something to your organization. Be mindful that the “ask” does not become a financial burden on your employees. If you make this decision a team exercise, you will have more buy-in to this new initiative.

For example, you can set up a secret Santa or gift swap activity among co-workers, but ask that everyone also donate to the company charity. Or, if it’s easier, a charity of their choice.

You can take it a step further by tracking these donations and celebrating generosity as a team.

Conceivably add some fun by inviting creativity and perhaps a group donation for a feeling of greater inclusion. And again, reduce the financial burden by providing suggestions of items they can donate (i.e., something they already own like food, clothing, or a contribution of time). You will find many big hearts, but not necessarily big wallets. The worst thing you can do is cause anyone to feel embarrassed or force them into a situation that will harm them financially or cause emotional stress.

Another idea is to volunteer for a day as a group. Many charities offer team-building exercises and manage all of the arrangements for you.

The Office Party – Only Different

No matter the current environment, this time of year is usually filled with many activities, many of which may be different than your way of celebrating the holidays. Do some research to learn more about other people’s religions and traditions. By doing this, you can have a more desirable plan for making everyone feel included. Even better, ask people to share their cultural traditions and consider that when planning the party. For many, right now, this may be a virtual experience.

Get creative and include your team members (i.e., supervisors, department heads, managers) and delegate portions of the celebration. They, in turn, can work with others who report to them to tackle their assigned task. This new way of doing things is also an excellent opportunity to show existing and new employees that your company recognizes that the holiday spirit comes in many forms.

Co-worker Gift Giving Etiquette

Gift-giving among co-workers can be fun but can also become very stressful for the employee. As mentioned above, no one should ever feel forced into living up to an expense they truly cannot afford. To follow are some strategies to help navigate these traditions:

  • Try a lighthearted game such as Yankee Swap or Secret Santa, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. Place a LOW dollar amount (i.e., $20 and under) for the item they purchase and only allow for one gift per person.
  • Make it clear that if they want to share gifts with a close co-worker, please do that privately. There are too many times the Secret Santa sharing event gets out of hand with others giving a gift to just one or more and not the entire group, which can cause division. This courtesy will help everyone feel better about this group activity.
  • If you’re planning on giving your boss or supervisor a gift that is just from you, unless they are a close personal friend, ask others to participate in a group gift. You will look like a team player and invite trust during a time that may already be stressful.
  • Steer clear of over-the-top joke gifts as you never know who you will offend. Unless you know for sure, it will be appreciated; it’s a good idea to remove alcohol from your gift-giving. And never give it in situations such as a Secret Santa gift.
  • And, very important, ALWAYS send a handwritten thank you note for gifts received.

Remember, this season isn’t about the gifts; it’s about the people who make your life better and the enjoyment you receive when giving.

Get creative and change a dreaded chore into something that has meaning for everyone on your team.
Need some help? Check out this WEBSITE that lays out the traditional rules of “Secret Santa.”  It also provides opportunities to manage the process online.

Note: We are not affiliated with the above site but thought it would help you get started.