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8 dos and don’ts of office gift exchanges

If you are planning on a Secret Santa at work, here are a few crucial points to know before you swap gifts

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 December, 2016, 3:28pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 December, 2016, 3:28pm

You may spend a large portion of your life with these people, but that doesn’t make exchanging presents with your co-workers any less awkward.

If you plan on swapping gifts at the office this year, Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, an etiquette and civility expert and the author of “Don’t Burp in the Boardroom,” has some dos and don’ts to help you avoid any embarrassing moments.

“Before you play Santa at work, find out what the policy is on gift-giving and receiving,” Randall says.

As a courtesy, it’s a good idea to make sure the people in charge are OK with in-office gift-giving, she says. And depending on their personal policy on getting involved with staff, you could also invite them to participate.

If you plan on having your gift exchange in the office or at a company gathering, make sure you don’t exclude anyone. Randall suggests placing a sign-up sheet in a common area, including a deadline, not pressuring anyone to participate.

“Not everyone can afford lavish gifts,” Randall says.

“It’s probable that not everyone will participate, so consider holding the exchange away from work, during a lunch break, or before or after work hours,” Randall suggests.

If you’re planning to exchange gifts within your office clique or only with a specific person, it’s best to plan the gift exchange away from work.

Unless you feel that’s what’s wanted, skip the off-the-shelf gift card and opt for something a little more inspired.

“Hopefully, you know a little bit about your co-worker — are they a hiker, coffee drinker, book fanatic, grilling expert, or nap lover? Use your imagination and buy accordingly,” Randall says.

Avoid lingerie, adult toys, bathing products, or a book on “How to be a better parent,” Randall warns.

Put that dusty candle back in your closet — no one likes receiving an obviously used or unwanted gift. 

“If you can’t afford a gift, decline to participate,” Randall says.

Alcohol may seem like an easy, go-to gift — who doesn’t like a glass of wine after a long day at the office? Well, the answer is, plenty of people. “You never know who is struggling with addiction or has religious restrictions,” Randall points out.

Unless you are certain the recipient enjoys a drink now and then, you’re better off avoiding alcohol as a gift.