Navigating the Weird World of Office Gift Traditions
October 31, 2017
The holiday season seems to arrive more quickly each year, with one main event that needs organization and collaborative planning. Often there's food, beverages and gift giving. While the gift-giving tradition can be challenging in nearly any situation, it can become particularly so when choosing gifts for your co-workers. You'll want to choose ones they enjoy yet that are also appropriate for the office culture and environment. Here are some gift giving ideas to make the process easier for you.
White Elephant Exchange
A white elephant gift exchange is a great way to infuse fun and laughter into your office holiday party. This tradition generally works best in an office with six or more participants. Each employee brings in a wrapped gift and places it into a collective pile, then takes a turn choosing a gift and opening it while everyone is there. The next person then has the option to claim the previous gift as his or her own, or select a new one from the pile. If the first is taken, that person gets to pick another item from the pile.
The type of gifts involved add to the fun of a white elephant swap. Encourage people to bring silly gag gifts and off-the-wall items, like a funny coffee mug or a quirky pen holder. Bobble head dolls and crazy socks are also appropriate white elephant gift ideas and other cute, yet appropriate gifts that come to mind. It's wise to level set with expectations or guidelines on the type of gifts to bring.
Themed Gift Giving
Take the guesswork out of gift giving by creating a theme for your office gifts this year. For example, choose a coffee theme and suggest that everyone exchange unique coffee mugs, flavored coffees or other beverage related gifts.
Encourage healthy living with wellness-themed gifts that fit in with any budget. Employees can choose from a variety of options, such as pedometers, yoga mats, exercise DVDs or any type of wearable technology.
You can also direct the gift giving toward a greater need with a charity exchange, where each employee writes down the name of a charity and places it in a decorative container. Participants draw names and make a donation to the charity on behalf of the recipient. Consider having a spending limit to keep your co-workers from feeling pressured. You can also allow employees to choose, providing them the option of giving their time as a volunteer or making a financial donation.
General Gift Exchanges
One of the most popular of this type, the Secret Santa gift exchange is a long-running tradition for office holiday parties. Each participant anonymously draws the name of the employee for whom they will buy a gift. Spending limits are put in place to prevent any surprise, extravagant gifts. To add to the gift-giving fun, allow employees to leave each other hints about their identities throughout the month leading up to the gift-giving exchange.
When choosing these gifts, be sure to stay within the allowable spending limit. If you know the recipient very well, find a gift that speaks to his or her interests. For example, a movie buff would probably appreciate theater tickets. Office-related items and small luxuries are always a good idea. Consider a quality pen, a mini-fan, or a cute collection of themed paper clips.
The office holiday party should be fun for everyone. Take the stress out of workplace gift-giving by communicating spending rules and establishing themes that are big on fun — but not on price.
To keep the spirit of fun going strong, make sure the party plans comply with the internal policies of your specific company and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with sharing a snack and a laugh or two.
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