By Jurissa Ayala
With Christmas fast approaching, holiday parties and gift swap planning are in full swing. Whether yours is a traditional Yankee Swap, or white elephant gifts are the office’s favorite way to celebrate, you need a strategy. The following tips can make the season and the parties fun for everyone… even you!
Gift Giving Ground Rules
New to the company? It’s best to ask:
- Is there a spending limit? Some have a limit, some set no limit at all.
- Are gag gifts appropriate? This is where White Elephant gifts come in.
- Are there certain types of gifts that are considered off-limits?
Got your rules? Time to head out shopping.
Gag Gifts – aka The White Elephant
“White Elephants” are those gifts that no one really wants, but everyone loves to see opened. Many times they’re so popular for a laugh, they’re brought back year after year. They may be funny, or tacky, and include things like a strange shaped lip balm collection, toilet paper printed with odd messages, a truly ugly Christmas sweater, or an inflatable wearable unicorn horn. Be careful with these types of gifts. Some things that are funny to some may be embarrassing to others. You need to know your team to know what gifts will get a laugh, and what might actually cause a department problem. Some white elephant gifts become so popular that they’re brought back every year, and people wait to see who’ll get the “prize” this year. Pet Rocks, bacon scented candles, and a Bonny Boy Liquor dispenser are perfect examples of this type of gift.
Safe and Inexpensive Gift Ideas Everyone Can Use
Gifts that are welcome, and can keep you under the $25 price tag include:
- Coffee mugs – fill them with chocolates, or candy canes!
- Reusable water bottle – Everyone’s trying to drink more water these days, and a backup bottle is a welcome gift!
- Scratch Tickets – You can control the spend, but if the scratcher is a winner, there’s no limit to the value!
- Mouse pads – Numerous designs to choose from, some even allow insertion of a favorite photo. These are especially great for people with children or pets.
- Funky pens – People are always losing their pens. A unique pen is one that is sure to be recognized and less likely to walk away!
Inexpensive gifts need to be fun, and usable. They also work well for Secret Santa. Especially if Secret Santa involves multiple smaller gifts. One day a pen, another day a scratch ticket, another day a special cookie or coffee shop gift card. Just little ideas that let someone know they are appreciated.
No Spending Limit? Time to Get Creative!
Some companies have ethics policies that limit value for gifts, but if you’ve been told “the sky’s the limit” be prepared for a bit more thought in your shopping. Unique, usable, and memorable guarantee the gift you bring will be “stolen” more than once!
Monthly Gift Subscriptions – “Beer- or Wine-of-the-Month Club”, an online magazine, or even healthy lifestyle boxes, shave clubs, and underwear are all available “by-the-month (although underwear may not be office appropriate).
Technology Lovers Unite – A higher end power bank for mobile devices, a tablet sleeve and earbuds, or a power bag (an actual backpack with a built in charging station).
Something for the Chef – a Keyboard designed waffle maker is definitely unique!
A Clean Gift – A bluetooth enabled shower head with speaker, to play anything from their smartphone
With higher end gifts, the key is getting something that someone will appreciate and use. These types of gifts are something someone will use throughout the year, and if you select the right one you won’t see it coming back as next year’s White Elephant. But if you pay $85 for a funky waffle iron for the wrong person, it may be the most expensive item on the re-gifting table next year.
And a final piece of advice. If you’re buying a gift where your boss may be the recipient, know your boss, or play it safe. Some bosses are happy with beer-of-the-month. Some might like it, but not know how to open it at the office and still maintain their “bossly” demeanor. Remember, holiday gift exchanges are supposed to be fun, and bring the team together, not drive them apart. Keep the spirit of the season in mind, and select a gift that doesn’t keep you awake at night!