Finding a great gift for everyone on your shopping list can be a bit daunting, especially when trying to stay on budget. Buying for coworkers, your boss or maybe even an office Secret Santa can be even more stressful. To make it a bit easier, we’ve compiled advice and suggestions that have proved to be wildly useful in the past for both ourselves and for others.
Do a Secret Santa – The Right Way
Sometimes Secret Santa works… and sometimes it doesn’t. The key here, like in so many other parts of life, is good organization. So where does one start? Secret Santa pools shouldn’t have a huge number of participants. Maybe you work at a smaller company and can include everyone without being overwhelmed, but if the company is large, breaking it up by departments is probably the best way to go as it will be considered fair. It also lessens the chance that anyone will feel left out, as it was a department decision, not an individual decision, on who to include. After there are a reasonable number of participants, everyone needs to make a list of three to five likes and dislikes. This will make it much more simple and enjoyable for everyone involved and also allow some employees to get to know one another better. Next, create rules. The rules will have to include the budget and the time frame. The classic time frame is always an option – leave rounds of small gifts leading up to larger one – but feel free to mix it up, so long as all the rest of the participants are on board. Don’t go crazy with the budget though. This is supposed to be fun – not strike fear into their hearts about whether or not they’ll be able to make a mounting credit card payment.
If Secret Santa just isn’t your office’s cup of tea, but you still would like to spread some holiday cheer, here are some great gift ideas.
Great Gifts: Coworker to Coworker
- Coffee or tea: There’s a great chance that a great majority of your coworkers guzzle down coffee – you might even be one of them. Coffee and tea can make great gifts. Although you don’t want to go too far out of the box and risk buying something your coworker won’t drink, you may want to consider buying a flavor or brand that your coworker may not buy on the norm. Think a gourmet brand, maybe something your coworker would think of as a luxury.
- Coffee mug: This ties in perfectly with the item listed above. Additionally, with sites like Cafe Press that specialize in creating fun coffee mugs inspired by pop culture, you can find the perfect mug for anyone by searching for their favorite movie, book or TV show.
- Movie/DVD: If you happen to know your coworker’s movie preferences, this can be an easy, appropriate gift. Better yet, give a movie theater gift card – just make sure you include enough for two, as most people don’t enjoy going to the movies solo.
- Book: Again, this will depend on how well you know your coworkers taste. A word of warning – if you haven’t read it and your coworker hasn’t expressly stated interest in it, you will probably want to avoid giving it as a gift.
The Not So Great: Any type of self-improvement item. For example, maybe your coworker has expressed a desire to get back to working out. Even though you have only the best intentions, you should still avoid something like purchasing a workout DVD for your coworker. This type of gift can easily be taken the wrong way and can upset the receiver instead of delighting them.
Great Gifts: Employee to Boss/Manager
- Gourmet Coffee: Nearly everyone enjoys a great cup of joe, even the boss. If your boss is a coffee drinker, this is an easy gift that is sure to be much appreciated. Avoid the ‘Best Boss Ever’ mug though – even if it is meant sincerely, even the coolest boss is apt to wonder if it is an ironic gesture and is therefore bound to feel a little uncomfortable drinking out of it.
- iPad Case: Does your boss or manager have an iPad? Why not get them a snazzy new case? iPad cases tend to be extremely affordable. Find one in your boss’s favorite color or go for a sleek, professional looking one.
- Phone Case: Most people seem to have covers for their phones, but it’s always nice to have options. Make sure you know what kind of phone your boss has before purchasing anything. Check out some of these Otter Box covers to get some ideas.
- Stationary: Some really awesome stationary can be a great gift for anyone. The key here is to make sure the stationary is personalized, yet still professional.
The Not So Great: Avoid anything over-personal as these gifts can often be inappropriate and therefore, make the other person uncomfortable.
Great Gifts: Boss to an Employee/All Employees
- Gas Gift Card: Gift cards are usually seen as the universal “easy way out” when it comes to gift shopping. That said, gas cards are the king of all gift cards, and we can’t think of a single reason why someone would be upset to receive one.
- Restaurant Gift Card: This is a great option as it gives an actual experience versus a commodity. Just be sure to select a nicer restaurant. It might be a good idea to only pick a restaurant that you have dined at, as online reviews can often be misleading and are not always completely reliable.
- Well-regarded leadership books: These non-fiction works are popular for a reason – they motivate and inspire us. Find books that you think your employees would most be interested in. Better yet, instead of buying the same book for everyone, try varying it up and writing a nice, personalized note to the receiver on why you thought they’d enjoy the book.
- A standing desk: Maybe an employee or a group of employees have been interested in getting a new standing desk. If that’s the case and if you have the budget to do so, adding some standing desks to the work space could be a great way to not only show your employees that you listen to them and take them seriously, but also show that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being. To avoid forcing employees to switch to a standing desk if they have no desire to, and thereby cause ill-will, only get a standing desk for those who truly want one. For others, get an equally thoughtful gift to avoid any suggestion of favoritism.
- New, ergonomic office chairs: Ergonomic chairs can make a world of difference for your employees. Not only will they be more comfortable and happy, but they are sure to be more productive as well. A new, ergonomic office chair can make an excellent gift, provided that you have the budget for it. These chairs can also be offered as alternative gifts for those who have no interest in a standing desk.
- A holiday party: A lot of companies opt to have their holiday party serve as their gift to employees. This is a great idea and again provides a nice experience instead of a commodity, which everyone can appreciate. Just be sure that the office holiday party is done right with ample preparation before-hand and with excellent food. No one wants their gift to be a party that is hastily thrown together at the last minute.
The Not So Great: As stated above, don’t just throw a holiday party without any forethought or preparation. Put some work in to it.
Avoid overly branded items – from coffee cups to large jackets, no one wants to feel like a walking advertisement. If you do choose to give branded items, keep the brand logos small with tasteful placement.
Lastly, a good thing to keep in mind as you give gifts in the office this holiday season: if you find yourself really struggling to find a gift for your coworker or your boss, it might be best to not give a gift at all. Giving a gift only because you feel obligated to do so is pretty easy to detect and can make everyone uncomfortable.