Office Gift-Giving Etiquette
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Essential Dos and Don'ts
Looking for divine inspiration -- or at least solid suggestions? Ingram has five good ideas:
- Treat someone to a service: A manicure, dog-walking, hair-blowout -- anything he or she enjoys doing but might not indulge in.
- Food: Nourishment has mass appeal, and it doesn't have to be a box of chocolates. A gift card for the local gourmet coffee shop can also feed someone's fancy.
- Greenery/plants: This is especially good as an up-gift, especially if it's something a little bit unusual.
- Books/music/DVDs: A gift card for something entertaining is almost always the perfect thing. If you must buy something specific, always include a gift receipt.
- Upscale retail: Maybe it's the Tiffany-blue box, or maybe there's another well-known arbiter in your area. Even if the item inside doesn't break the bank, the sight of the box can be a thrill in itself.
- Anything alumnae oriented: Something from the old school can be a fun way to show you notice more than the everyday chit-chat.
Of course, if you're wondering what to avoid, here are five definite don'ts:
- Lingerie: It's just never appropriate, even if you work at Victoria's Secret.
- Alcohol: Some companies prohibit it -- and you never know who's on the wagon.
- Anything sexual: You might make silly jokes on a day-to-day basis, but a sexually focused gift is just asking for trouble.
- Anything culturally taboo: Be sensitive to the gift-getter's culture. Don't give leather to a Hindu (you know, the sacred cow and all?) or a Christmas ham to your Jewish assistant.
- Personal services that are, well, too personal: Items/gift certificates designed to improve the recipient or that imply that his or her appearance could use a boost. It's one thing to give a manicure, which is fun and relaxing. It's quite another to offer hair coloring.
- Perfume/cologne: Even if you know what the person wears, this is still the realm of spouses and dates. Ditto for themed boxers and socks: just don't.