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Follow etiquette rules when giving office gifts
RAYMOND, Miss. -- Holiday gift lists often include co-workers, but shoppers should be mindful of a few etiquette rules before hitting the stores.
“Always check company policies before buying gifts,” said Susan Cosgrove, an agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Newton County.
If employers allow gift exchanges, be sure to keep it professional.
Cosgrove said it is okay to give a boss or supervisor a gift, but it should be done as a group or department.
“Generally, it is more appropriate to give the boss a gift as a group,” Cosgrove said. “Don’t give extravagant gifts.”
Good choices are food gifts, game or event tickets, or gift certificates to a local coffee shop or bookstore, Cosgrove said.
Take up donations for the group gift in advance, but make it clear that participation is voluntary. It is even okay to suggest an amount, but employees should not feel obligated to give that set amount, according to The Emily Post Institute.
Some co-workers choose to give each other gifts. In this situation, it is best to give gifts discreetly. Do this outside the office, if possible, to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.
If gift giving is important to the group, The Emily Post Institute suggests drawing names for Secret Santa or contributing to a local charity as a group, either monetarily or by volunteering. This approach can help keep costs low and focus on the needs of others.
An office party or restaurant meal is another popular alternative to individual gift exchanges.
“In our office, we don’t exchange gifts at all,” Cosgrove said. “Instead, we enjoy doing something as a group. Of course, food is always involved our activity!”
If a co-worker offers an unexpected gift, accept it graciously and with sincere thanks, but do not feel obligated to reciprocate, Cosgrove said.
“People should not give a gift with the expectation of getting a gift in return,” she said. “It gives me such joy to give my family, especially the children in my family, gifts. I certainly do not expect to get a gift in return for each one I give.”
Some gifts should never be part of an office celebration, Cosgrove said.
“Gag gifts and gifts that are very personal are inappropriate for the workplace,” she said. “We do not want to offend our co-workers, and we especially do not want to offend our supervisor or anyone in management.”