Happy Office Holidays: What’s Your Office Gift-giving Culture?
By Rose Strong
November has arrived and with Halloween in the rearview mirror, the road to Thanksgiving and the holidays beyond begins to speed up. Thoughts of gifting to others abounds and before you know it, the office holiday party is next week.
Do you find gift-giving at the office a bit awkward? Through the year, employees come and go and new employees may not be aware of the office’s holiday culture. Along the same note, long-time employees used to celebrating one way may find new employees may not be comfortable with the old holiday office traditions. It can add unwanted stress to what most consider a jolly time of year.
With diversity and the awareness of others’ cultures and traditions emphasized throughout the year, the holidays are the perfect time to practice what we preach and respect everyone’s need to participate or decline such festivities.
In some companies, a pot luck or a lunch is the preferred way to manage a celebration without gifts if people decide they aren’t able or wish not to give for personal reasons. However, there are some who are a bit zealous about holidays. You know the kind of co-worker I mean here. That one person who decorates their cubicle and has a different holiday sweater for each of the twelve days of Christmas. That person who forgets other employees celebrate, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or the winter solstice.
Many of us find this time of year sparks excitement and joy. However, not everyone celebrates. The holidays are often mired in strong emotions and some people need support to get through it, not pressure to celebrate. Being aware of this should be part of our collective consciousness.
If you don’t do a Secret Santa or even if you do, but want to give to someone who has done something special over the past year, the inter-cubicle gifts should be given as discreetly as possible so as not to ruffle other co-workers’ feathers.
This year at Furia Rubel we’ve decided on something new, but it’s similar to the Secret Santa in that you’re only purchasing one gift, and you set a dollar amount. There are several names by which it’s called, but White Elephant seems the most common and a change for us. As we’ve grown these past five years I’ve been here from four employees to eight, the change from us giving to each person to making a purchase for only one is a big difference and we all agree, takes some of that holiday pressure off and adds some fun!
Giving to the boss? A few tips to make you look less like the office brownnoser and more like you truly appreciated them through the past year:
1. Don’t gift-up on your own. It’s important to recognize that the boss can see that you may be trying to ingratiate yourself to them. Some like it, but most do not and neither do your fellow employees. Decide on a dollar amount you will give for a collective gift.
2. Make a charitable donation in their name. What manager needs another tchotchke to collect dust on their desk or shelf at home? Making a gift in their name to a reputable charity or the charity of their choice makes a difference in someone’s life.
3. Tickets to a show or sporting event. Be sure to purchase at the very least, a pair of tickets.
4. If someone is unable to participate – Understand regardless of their reason and have them sign their name to the card out of courtesy, if they’d like. Holiday gifting to the boss doesn’t need to be stressful, and for those who don’t participate, it can be worrisome as to how givers and non-givers are perceived in management’s eyes.
Remember, the season is about giving. If you get a gift from someone and didn’t get them one, a simple thank you is all they need. Reciprocating simply because you’ve been given a gift isn’t what the holiday season is about.