Managing the Holiday Gift Exchange

By | Nov 25, 2008

A what? Un cadeau!

Creative Commons License photo credit: vieux bandit

Yes, it’s that time of year again.  The holidays are once again upon us.  I’ll be doing a series of posts over the next week on various holiday related topics around the office.  Today’s topic: Holiday Gift Exchanges.

Gift Exchanges can be a nice way for office colleagues to bond and have some fun.  But if you don’t have some good guidelines involved, you can cause unnecessary angst among your office mates.

Make Sure It’s Voluntary

Holiday gift exchanges should always be voluntary for a couple of reasons.  First of all, the exchanging of gifts may violate some people’s religious beliefs.  Others may just not want to participate in a tradition that is more of a Christmas tradition than otherwise (again, mostly for religious reasons).  For others, the money involved is just too much for them to afford.  Which brings me to the next guideline.

Spending Limits

Make sure you have reasonable spending limits and make sure everyone knows them up front.  And remember, what you think is reasonable may be budget breaking to one of your colleagues.  There have been times in my career that the very reasonable $10 spending limit was well beyond my means.  So let folks know before they sign up what the spending limits are so they can make an appropriate decision about joining in.

Gag Gifts

Avoid gag gifts.  If someone takes the time to find or make a nice, appropriate gift, they are going to be very disappointed if they recieve a Singing Fish in exchange.  Unless you know the person specifically likes things like that, stay on the serious side.  Unless, of course, the gag is the point.  If this is a gag exchange, though, make sure everyone is aware of that up front.  Speaking of gag gifts….

White Elephant Exchange

Consider having a white elephant exchange.  With this kind of exchange, regifting is not just a virtue, it’s half the fun!  These types of exchanges can be absolutely hilarious, and it makes a nice fun time for the staff to spend together.  Even people who don’t necessarily like each other can have fun with a white elephant exchange.

Be Aware of Scheduling

Many people take off during the holidays , so be sure to schedule your exchange at a time when most people will be in the office.  This may end up being a week or two before the holidays.

Keep it Tasteful

Remember, even if fun is intended, this is still a business environment.  Keep gifts tasteful.  Bypass anything with sexual overtones, anything that might be construed as an insult, anything racially insensitive.  You don’t want your holiday gift to end up with a visit to HR.  Remember, use your common sense.

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