Do You Need to Get Your Boss and Coworkers Holiday Gifts?

With the holiday season right around the corner, you might be asking yourself, “Do I need to get my boss and/or coworkers gifts?” Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t as straightforward as you might expect.

Obviously, you’re never required to give gifts to anyone, but the holidays are a good time of year to show your appreciation to the people you spend so much time with. On the other hand, your choices could work against you if you aren’t careful—as we’ll soon explain. While there’s no simple yes-or-no answer, we have some suggestions for you to take into consideration when deciding what you should give (if anything) to both your boss and coworkers.


Your boss: Group gifting

Bestowing your boss with a present the whole office chips in on—instead of each person giving a gift individually—is typically the safest and best choice for showing your appreciation. Though, in all honesty, you really won’t have much of a choice if this is the arrangement chosen by a consensus of your coworkers.

At the risk of not being considered a team player by your peers, it’s probably best to just go along with the group. Luckily, you’ll probably only have to pay a fraction of what you would spend on your own, and you can avoid a potentially awkward moment in your boss’s office after they ask you to remind them of your name.

Your boss: Individual gifting

If you happen to be particularly friendly with your boss, or have developed a close professional relationship with them over the years, giving them a holiday gift is completely appropriate and probably welcome—but, certainly not mandatory.

You’ll want to make sure your gift is received as a sincere token of your appreciation and not seen as a self-serving gesture designed to gain favor in some way—so, accurately assessing the level of your relationship and selecting the right gift is essential. With that in mind, you don’t need to spend a lot of money, and we recommend keeping it simple—a nice gift basket, holiday ornament, or even a personalized pocket-sized notebook are all perfectly acceptable choices.

Your boss: No gifting

In the event your office has not decided to organize a group gift, and you don’t have a close working relationship with your boss, you should probably opt out of giving them a present. Inevitably, your gesture will either go unnoticed, or be seen as lacking sincerity. Instead, try warmly wishing them happy holidays the next time you cross paths in the hallway.

Coworkers: Group gifting

Even if you work in a small office with only a few coworkers, buying a separate gift for each person can be too costly to consider. Instead, suggest having a fun gift exchange like white elephant, Yankee swap, or Dirty Santa at your holiday party. Not only does everyone get a gift, but it’s also an entertaining way to celebrate the season.

Coworkers: Individual gifting

More likely than not, you’ve probably become closer friends with some coworkers than others. This can make gift giving in the office trickier than you might think. Bringing gifts to all but a handful of your fellow office mates can cause some problems in the workplace.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give your coworkers gifts—you should just exercise a greater level of discretion when presenting your presents. Picking an appropriate time and place to exchange gifts will prevent others from feeling excluded or resentful.

Coworkers: No gifting

While there’s no need to give your coworkers holiday gifts, you should consider how you’ll feel in the event you don’t give any, and one or more of your peers decides to give you a present. Obviously, whether or not you’re going to receive a present should have no bearing on your decision to give gifts, but it’s worth thinking about. If you’re unable or unwilling to participate in a gift exchange, it’s probably best to let everyone know you’re sitting this season out.

Whatever you decide to do, remember, a simple thanks goes a long way in showing your coworkers and boss how grateful you are to have them as friends and teammates.

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