The time for holiday shopping is finally almost over, and you’ve got something for all your friends and family. But wait! You forgot about that post-Christmas workplace holiday party! Whether it’s White Elephant or Secret Santa, these are the hardest gifts to buy because they must be inexpensive, somewhat generic and maybe even funny without being offensive.
Most holiday gift exchanges have a $10-$20 limit. You should try to come as close as possible to the goal price. Going over the limit will not get you more props around the office, and nobody will know the exact amount you spend anyway. Don’t be a cheapskate, though, because the difference between a $15 gift and a $20 gift is usually fairly obvious. When you’re trying to find the perfect gift for your coworker, ask yourself a few questions to make sure you get it right.
What is the tone of the gift exchange? Funny or heartfelt? Do you know the person well? Don’t try to be too funny if you don’t know the person well—you don’t know how your humor will be interpreted. Maybe you like fart jokes, but Lindsay in Marketing doesn’t. Likewise if the exchange has a more tender tone, be careful that the message you send does not indicate romantic or parental love. The gift of jewelry or perfume can often be interpreted romantically.
Does the coworker have health or dietary restrictions? You don’t want to get a big box of sugar cookies for someone who eats gluten-free. Think about the message you are sending with the gift, too. Don’t get a gym membership for someone that is very overweight; likewise, don’t get that overweight person a bunch of sweets and candy—that just shows that you are thinking about their weight.
So, what are some fail-safe gift ideas that can’t go wrong? The easiest gift idea for a coworker is to get them something that they can use in the workplace. If you work at a typical office, an elegant coffee mug, tea cup or water bottle is a classic gift. If your coworker generally works in the field, then something that is portable will serve them better, such as a Bluetooth speaker for their phone. If your coworker has a work space, such as a desk, cubicle or office, then something to decorate their work area that fits with the aesthetic they currently have is a great way to go. And if all of these considerations are giving you a headache, don’t sweat it! Just get them a gift card that can be used anywhere and let them figure it out!