Reynolds Careers

December 3, 2023

On the Job

3 minutes


Navigating Office Gift-Giving: A Holiday Survival Guide

Reynolds Careers

December 3, 2023

On the Job

3 minutes

It’s December, which means lights, trees, and holiday music galore. Here at Reynolds, we’ve already started gearing up for the season with our annual Christmas parties. Amidst all the fun, food, and cheer, it can be difficult to know how to navigate gift-giving in the office. You may be wondering, what are the rules? How much do I spend? And most of all — what do I buy?

Here are our tips for office holiday gift-giving:

Get to Know the Office

If you haven’t been around your office long, you might not know the expectations during the holidays. Start by asking your coworkers for advice. Is there a team/company party? Does everyone pool funds for a gift for the manager? Do coworkers exchange gifts with each other? Every office is different, so it’s important to know if there are any hard and fast rules.

Ask teammates if you’re unsure what kinds of gifts are okay to give. Some offices are fine with alcohol; others may have a strict policy against it. Ask if anyone in the office has allergies. These things are important to know upfront so you can give thoughtful, meaningful gifts.

Now that you generally know what to expect, let’s dive into gift-giving for specific gift exchanges.

White Elephant Gift Exchanges

If your office or department has a Christmas party, chances are you’ll play “White Elephant,” also known as “Yankee Swap” or “Dirty Santa.” The concept is simple: Buy a gift, wrap it without a name, and everyone takes turns choosing or stealing the mystery gifts.

Stay close to the spending limit and opt for fun, silly items and gadgets. But don’t bring something completely useless. Remember, everyone’s spending a little money here — they don’t want to walk away with trash — no matter how silly you think it is. Be sure not to overspend, either — it’s meant to be a fun, low-stakes game!

Secret Santa Gift Exchanges

With Secret Santa, you know who you’re buying for, but they don’t know you’re buying for them. Stick to the price limit and their wish list if you have one. If you don’t receive a list, go off what you know about them or ask others for help.

Here are a couple of ideas for a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange (if you’re still lost, there are tons of lists online for work-specific parties):

  • Mugs/water bottles
  • Cozy socks
  • Candles
  • Card games/board games
  • Unique kitchen gadgets
  • Office gadgets or décor
  • Snacks and candy
  • Coffee or tea

Personal Gifts

Personal gifts for coworkers aren’t a requirement. If your office already did a gift exchange like Secret Santa or White Elephant, don’t feel obligated to spend any more than you already have.

If you want to show appreciation for your teammates, stay low-key and inexpensive so they don’t feel pressured to get you something. And try not to leave anyone out.

Some ideas:

  • Bake cookies or brownies to share.
  • Hand out bags of Christmas goodies.
  • Share your holiday Christmas card and a note of appreciation.
  • Get everyone a gift card (Amazon is always a winner).

Gifts to Avoid

As a final note, it’s best to avoid gifts like these:

  • Anything that could offend or make someone uncomfortable (know your coworkers, and if you’re unsure, get something else).
  • Anything too personal (i.e., jewelry, clothing, perfume).
  • Anything expensive.
  • Cash (gift cards are preferred).

Gift-giving around the holidays is a nice gesture and should be fun, not stressful. Enjoy the parties and the fun of giving and receiving, and don’t forget to thank others if they choose to gift you something. By understanding your office culture and being sensitive to others, you’ll easily navigate holidays in the office.

Interested in joining the team? Check out our open positions here.

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