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Should you buy a gift for your boss and co-workers for the holidays?

It’s gift-giving season, but should your holiday shopping list include your boss or co-workers?

Gifts at work can be tricky. With the holiday season fast approaching, you might be wondering which of your co-workers should get a gift, how much to spend, what to buy, or whether you should give them a gift.

Ideally, giving a gift should be a token of appreciation or to remind a colleague that you really enjoy working with them, Burgette White, vice president of human resources at Adecco North America, a staffing firm, told CNBC Make It. “It shouldn’t be an expensive or anxiety-inducing endeavor,” she says.

But timing is everything with workplace freebies, White adds. Giving your manager a lavish and expensive gift just before your annual performance review, for example, could be seen as a bribe — and “you don’t want to make things awkward for your boss,” White adds.

Here are three rules to follow when it comes to giving gifts at work, according to HR managers:

Don’t break the bank

White recommends spending no more than $30 on a gift for your manager or coworkers.

“Everyone has a different level of financial comfort, and you want to be respectful of that, especially in times of inflation and a possible recession,” she explains.

HR managers recommend employees spend about $20 on gifts for bosses or co-workers, according to a report by recruiting firm Robert Half. Spending more than that might feel like you’re trying to bribe them with a luxury item. .

be thoughtful

While gifts should be work-appropriate, they should also be personal, says André Heinz, director of people and culture at Celonis, a software development company.

“Giving gifts is a very effective way to create a sense of belonging, camaraderie and joy, especially during the holidays,” he says.

At a recent holiday dinner with coworkers, Heinz left a handwritten card on each person’s plate that included specific compliments about their work and why he liked them.

If a heartfelt greeting card isn’t your style, consider getting your boss or co-workers baked goods, a gift card to their favorite coffee shop, or donating to a charity in their name.

Avoid gifts with a sexual, political or religious connotation, adds Heinz. The same rule applies to booze and gag gifts, which could cross HR boundaries or be offensive to others.

Get inspired by your colleagues

Ultimately, don’t feel like you have to give someone a gift at work, White says. It’s a corporate tradition that some people embrace, but it’s definitely not a must.

If you’re undecided or you’re a new employee, ask a co-worker what people at the company have been up to in previous years. Importantly, more businesses are moving away from individual giveaways and embracing a White Elephant or Secret Santa exchange, which can be “low-stakes and more fun,” White says.

Or, skip the gifting routine altogether. Says White: “You can express your gratitude to your colleagues and celebrate the holidays without gifts.”


Sorry, but it looks like your end of year party will probably be at the office this year.

The do’s and don’ts of office party etiquette: “You’re not in a personal space, you’re in a business space”

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