Organizing an office gift exchange can be an opportunity to create meaningful memories with your coworkers, or, as a recent article on The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) blog makes clear, a potential minefield of stress and unintentional offense. The key to making an office gift swap stress-free and fun for all involved is to establish some clear guidelines while allowing some room for flexibility and fun so it doesn’t end up feeling as rote as the last mandatory meeting.
Secrets and Swaps
One way to relieve the financial and social pressures of office giving is to organize an optional gift swap that only requires participants to purchase a single gift for a fellow coworker. There are a number of different options, but two of the most popular include:
- Secret Santa. This classic gift exchange involves coworkers drawing names to choose their gift recipient. You can either plan to stretch out the fun for an entire week and invite gifters to leave small, anonymous presents each day that build up to a final, larger gift, or you can keep it simple and stick to one single present exchanged at a holiday party. You can use an online planner, like SecretSanta.com, or simply draw names on slips of paper from a hat. No matter what variation you decide, be sure to set clear spending limits that everyone can agree upon. It’s also good to emphasize that this is an opportunity to give thoughtful gifts that should align with the recipient’s interests. This will encourage coworkers to get to know people better, and ensures that no one unintentionally offends someone with an inappropriate gift.
- Yankee Swap. As popularized on the hit TV show, The Office, a Yankee Swap is a fun, silly gift exchange game that places less emphasis on choosing the perfect present for your recipient, and more focus on having fun and goofing around at an office holiday party. You can find the official rules for the swap at YankeeSwap.com, but as with the Secret Santa exchange, the main guideline is to set comfortable spending limits and encourage people to have fun.
Good Gift Lists
If you decide to skip the secrets or swap and allow a looser exchange of gifts, it’s still a good idea to set some general guidelines around spending expectations and appropriate gift ideas. The IAAP recommends checking with your company’s policies on gift-giving first, and then recommending gifts that aren’t overly intimate or overly expensive. Some great gift ideas for the office include:
- Gift cards for every day items, like coffee, online bookstores, or office supplies. Avoid expensive or overly specific gift cards for luxury items or services.
- Holiday gift baskets. These can be a nice individual gift, or managers can give a larger basket to a small department to share.
- Decorative items for the office, including picture frames, plants, calendars, or whimsical coffee mugs.
- Consumable goods, like coffee, tea, or a favorite brand of candy.