Proper etiquette around office gift giving can be tricky. Here are some helpful office gift giving etiquette tips to make sure your gift is a success.
1. Find out your company policy on gift giving. When giving your clients gifts ensure you are aware of the company’s gift giving policy and that the gift does not exceed the set amount. You don’t want your gift to be seen as a “bribe” specially if it’s of a high value.
2. You want your gift to show that you really do know the person. Spend time trying to figure out an appropriate gift listen for hints. Your manager complains that his gym bag has broken – great gift idea!
3. Who should you give a gift to?
A colleague who has been particularly helpful. A card expressing why you are thankful and a small gift. Be tactful when singling out colleagues for thank you gifts.
Staff that make your everyday 9-to-5 life easier e.g. the company driver or an admin professional.
A new or existing client you have built a relationship with.
4. Equate the length and strength of your relationship to the longevity of the gift e.g. Flowers, wine, choccies will be enjoyed far quicker than a coffee table book or a picture frame which will be lifelong reminders of your relationship.
What to buy? Here are some great ideas:
• Treat them to a service: a manicure, a cut and blow wave at their favourite hairdresser.
• Book them a class: for their favourite interest or hobby e.g. fly fishing, photography.
• Food: a gift card for a popular restaurant. Food baskets make great gifts, find out if the recipient is allergic to nuts, drinks wine, is Halaal, or on a diet?
• Online books,, movie gift cards, restaurant vouchers make great gifts, provided you have done your homework of what the recipient enjoys.
• Personalise, personalise – monogrammed cufflinks, a photo frame with their family photo.
• Underwear- do I even need to say this type of gift is far too personal? I’ve had clients receive lingerie and themed boxers.
• Alcohol: do your homework, some companies don’t allow it or the individual does not drink.
• Anything too provocative or sexual: this is just asking for trouble and other staff will start assuming the nature of your relationship with the gift recipient.
• Anything culturally taboo: e.g. leather to a Hindu or a ham to a Jewish colleague.
• Very specific services: that imply that her/his appearance could use help. E.g. an eyebrow wax or hair coloring.
• Fragrance/after shave: unless you really know what they like.
• Trust your instincts. If you think giving a certain gift to a co-worker would be strange then it probably is and you should pick something else.
“ The graceful acceptance of a gift is a gift itself.” Dana May Casperson
Receiving Gifts …
• When opening a gift, thank the person enthusiastically, even if it is the last thing you want or need. Say “This is most thoughtful”, “You are very generous” or “Thank you for thinking of me”
• All gifts need to be acknowledged, promptly whether verbally or written.
• If the gift is of high value you could say “Thank you, this is excessively generous. I would be happy with anything that comes from someone special like you”. This is a gracious reply but also drops a subtle hint for next time. Should you receive a high monetary value gift (against company policy) indicate that your company has a policy to only accept small gifts or gifts up to a certain value.
Enjoy the giving and receiving of gifts this season!
If you would like to know what to wear to an after-hours office event, click here for some useful guidelines.
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