Rules For Holiday Gift-giving At Workplace

by Srikant Chellappa Nov 16,2019

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

It’s that time of the year again. Winter is here again and festive holidays are around the corner. Gift-giving is a tradition in many organizations around the world, despite it not being a mandatory practice.

And while it is easy to think of gifts for family and friends, gift-giving is not that easy when it comes to colleagues and managers in the workplace. But, while gift-giving as a practice is all well and good, it needs to come with a few caveats.

As an HR administrator, here is what you can do to ensure that gift-giving this year is a fun and painless affair for your employees.

Set A Budget

It’s important to remember that everybody in an organization does not have the same finances. In fact, during the holiday season, some employees might be on a tighter budget than usual. Instead of setting a budget limit for the entire organization at one go, set appropriate budget limits based on groups of employees and the work they do.

Also, make sure that the budget limits are not wildly disparate. Just because some people earn more than others, this does not mean they have that much more cash to spend.

Also Read: Why you need a customized 360 Degree Feedback Survey?

Set Boundaries

As an HR manager, it is important for you to set boundaries when involving your employees in the gifting ritual.

Talk to them and give them examples of what could be thoughtful and what kinds of gifts are intimate.

For example, a cashmere sweater sounds like a great gift for a co-worker or manager you respect immensely but in reality, its way too personal, unless you have known that co-worker/manager for a long time and have a very solid relationship with them. A cashmere sweater is something you would give to a loved one. A sweatshirt might be more appropriate on the other hand. One good way to differentiate between personalized and intimate is to ask yourself: “would I give this to a loved one?” If the answer is yes, then you know it’s not appropriate for the office!

However, since the line between personalized and intimate is such a thin one to begin with, encourage your employees to stick with stationery, baked goods, gift vouchers, showpieces, etc.

Don’t Force Them

Gift-giving is not mandatory (and it really shouldn’t be because making it mandatory defeats the entire point of the tradition to begin with) and everybody is not required to participate in the process. You’ve got to ensure that people are comfortable enough to come to you and express their reluctance about participating and be understanding enough to accept that some employees are just not comfortable with the process.


Communicate the rules of gifting to your employees effectively.

Gift-giving is not everyone’s forte. But don’t be that person who recycles gifts obviously, or tries to pass off used gifts as new ones. That makes you look like a cheapskate. You don’t have to spend upwards of $100 either to show that you are really putting effort into your gift. After all, it’s not about how much money you spend on the gift. It’s about how much thought goes into the gift.

Also Read: 6 Tips For Giving Effective Employee Feedback

Discourage Religious/ Political Themed Gifts

Let your employees know that politically-themed gifts are a no-no. You might share strong political views that shape your thoughts and beliefs, but your beliefs and views don’t necessarily have to be shared by your co-workers. And even if they do, politics is a personal affair. It should not affect the way you interact with others in the office.

And finally it goes without saying that religious gifts are GIANT no. Religion is an intensely personal thing. You might think that you’re doing everyone a service by giving them religious-themed gift, but in reality, you are just being insensitive.

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Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

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