Five rules for giving office gifts


National Pen, who according to their website is a top 25 direct selling specialty company, recently released this infographic outlining the 13 different office personalities. After reading it, I have to say they hit the nail on the head. With today being Cyber Monday this also got me thinking about shopping for the annual office gift exchange. You would think with so many different personality types it would be almost impossible finding the right gift! But, after a little research I now believe if you follow these five tips you won’t have any problems picking the perfect present for even the pickiest of these personalities.

  1. Check workplace policy

    Some workplaces do have policies in place concerning gifts. According to this blog from the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) you should find out what your company’s gift giving policies are before you even plan a gift exchange. “Many organizations have strict regulations about giving gifts in the office and who you may give them to,” says Jodi R. R. Smith, the owner of Mannersmith, an etiquette consulting business based in Boston, Mass. Banks and other financial institutions in particular often have rules that prohibit gift exchanges. If you’re not sure about your workplace, check with your company’s human resources representative.

  2. Less is more

    Big expensive gifts are inappropriate. Most offices set a limit on how much you can spend. Don’t go over that limit. You may be trying to be nice but you could end up embarrassing the person who receives the gift.

  3. No gag gifts

    You may be tempted to get your buddy in accounting that whoopee cushion he’s had his eye on. He may think it’s awesome but not everyone may agree. So, why risk offending someone? You never know what’s going to push someone’s buttons. Error on the safe side and go with something simple like a gift certificate to the local theater or restaurant.

  4. Know who you’re shopping for

    Did you draw the new guy’s name in the Secret Santa exchange? Ouch! You may need to do a little homework before you hit the mall. Ask the people in his department to share what they know. You could also take a stroll past his desk to see if he has any knick knacks that may give something away about his personality. Finally, you could just try striking up a conversation with him at the water cooler. You never know what you might learn about a person in casual conversation.

  5. Give a gift that shows some thought

    Shopping for the office gift exchange may not be your top priority when you have so much else going on this holiday season. But it shouldn’t be an afterthought. Don’t wait until the day of the annual office shindig and stop off at the local gas station and just pick up whatever is sitting near the cash register. It will be evident if you haven’t put in any effort.

If these tips didn’t help you, keep in mind that you can always opt out of the annual gift exchange. No one will fault you for not participating.

What did we forget? Do you have any tips? Please, feel free to leave them below. You can also reach out to us on Twitter and Facebook.

About Barclay Pollak

Barclay Pollak is an award winning journalist and proud to be a member of the Corporate Communications team at TDS Telecommunications Corp. (TDS®) in Madison, Wis. Barclay joined the team in April of 2013. Before that Barclay worked as an Anchor/ Reporter for the NBC affiliate in Madison. While at NBC-15 Barclay was recognized by several organizations for his contributions to the television news industry. They include the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, the Radio Television Digital News Association (Edward R. Murrow Regional Award) and the Chicago/Midwest National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (2012 Emmy Nominee). When he’s not working Barclay enjoys cheering for all the sports teams in Wisconsin. Barclay’s a University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus and a huge fan of Badger athletics. Barclay is fascinated by the ever changing world of technology and spends a fair amount of his free time reading about the latest and greatest developments online. When Barclay’s not learning about technology he’s scouring the Internet in search of freeware. Barclay has an 8-year-old daughter and lives with his girlfriend of almost five years on Madison’s southwest side. Follow on G+.

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