Every year, I stress out about work-related holiday presents.  Do I get my boss something?  Do I get my coworkers something? What if someone gets ME something and I don’t have anything in return?

It’s stressful!

Here are some quick tips for holiday shopping in the workplace:

via etsy (click for info)

  1. Try to organize a department gift swap or Secret Santa: This eliminates that awkward, “He got me something so now I have to run out on my lunch break and try to find something for him,” feeling.
  2. Avoid alcohol: Even if your boss is a big drinker (ahem…), stick to non-alcoholic gifts.  Try a cocktail recipe book and (if you must) small bottles of booze with other small gifts.  In general, though, avoid.
  3. Have some spares: I always buy extras of something – fruity hand lotions for the ladies and restaurant gift certificates for anyone you don’t know well.  Stick to restaurants near work so they could use them on a lunch break.  (Tip: be sure the restaurant accepts gift certificates for lunch!)
  4. Go homemade: One year I helped a friend make delicious chocolate covered pretzels… it was a big hit. Make sure no one has food allergies and plan accordingly! (Or be sure to prepare a variety of goodies.)
  5. Desk calendars can be a big hit: One year, I got a Dilbert daily calendar from a boss and absolutely loved it.  Try to avoid political stuff – that doesn’t have much of a place in most offices.
  6. Personalized mugs or cups: With many offices going green, it never hurts to have your own cup or mug! Etsy has some great options, or check your local dollar store or tourist spot.  (Bonus: fill it with candy or mints for a surprise)
  7. Don’t buy anything!: If you’re not into swapping gifts, don’t buy anything! But refer to tip 3 if you’ll feel awkward when someone buys you something.
Do you have any additional tips for coworker gifts?  What’s the best gift you’ve received from a coworker?
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4 Responses to Holiday Shopping Tips: What to buy for coworkers?

  1. Lisa says:

    Last year my moron coworker thought he would buy us all holiday gifts … I ended up with something like “So Sexy” body lotion from Victoria’s Secret. It was awkward – and inappropriate – to say the least.

    • Erin says:

      Ha – inappropriate is definitely the right word! That’s another good tip – “don’t buy anything with the word SEXY in it!”

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  3. This is a hard one. I work with everyone in my building and am one of the few people who do; most people only work with others in their department, so I never know who may end up giving me a gift. I have been in that stage where it is last minute and I am stumbling to find something because I feel obligated to return the gift. We have even organized “secret santa” and I still end up with something from someone I didn’t think of a few days before Christmas.

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