Why is buying a Christmas gift for a coworker complicated?
It is important to understand the etiquette that guide the actions of human beings like coworker are highly subjective, usually compiled by other humans in the light of their ideologies, perception of issues, and expectations of how life works. In the light of this, any guide to gifting that you come across should be viewed as suggestions rather than laws or regulations about the world of gifting, and what or how to give.
It is particularly important to establish this point as another Christmas season rolls in, and people are actively searching for original Christmas gift ideas for families, friends, and loved ones. But an area that is tricky to navigate is getting gifts for colleagues at the workplace. The reason for the perceived uncertainty around gift-giving to coworkers is that it involves the process of action and interpretation on the part of both parties, and in some cases, the two elements might not align in the view of both. Giving gifts to coworkers might not be an issue if your office has an established secret or not-so-secret Santa exchange ceremony for the holidays, but if not, you should be very sure of your intentions and how it will be perceived/received before you proceed. Simply put, working relationships require careful consideration when one is considering a gift-giving for the following reasons:
• What type of relationship exists between your co-worker and yourself? If you have a fantastic relationship that surpasses the realm of acquaintance and borders on friendship, then getting such a person a gift should not be a challenge, and if you require ideas, you could read up gift shops’ reviews online as it will help you make a well-informed decision. On the other hand, if you have a difficult relationship with your coworker, any interaction with such an individual will be viewed from the lens of the difficulty, which could lead to misinterpretation of intentions that could generate awkwardness. But when done right, giving a gift could be the perfect activity to break any awkwardness or call for a truce.
• If you have more than one coworker, do you give them all Christmas gifts? Or do you give only those in your team? Do you give those you are friends with? Or do you give the ones you consider more agreeable the better/costlier gift? Will a coworker be slighted if you do not give them a gift? Can you afford to give a meaningful gift to your colleagues? These and many more questions should be truthfully answered before you start the process at all. Since each situation is peculiar, this article might not be able to offer a blanket opinion or decision on these questions.
• How do you determine the right gift? You have to be careful – you do not want to give a luxury product or highly expensive item to your coworker, lest other meanings are read into the act. If you consider this as a moot point, you should know that depending on the kind of social circle your coworkers belong to, a very expensive gift could create an impression of oppression, or, if your coworker is the opposite sex, be misjudged as conveying interest (especially, if that individual is the only one to receive such from you). This does not however mean that you give people shoddy or mediocre gifts, but try not to go overboard. The most important thing about giving gifts is the thought behind the action.
• Choose a useful gift. You know the types that can be found handy in the office, or at home, not just some junk that will be thrown in the store or pantry. Also, you should work with a budget, especially if you are giving a lot of people.
• Do not give any gift that can be worn on the body, such as clothing items, jewelry, body creams, or perfumes. It’s Christmas season, and it’s a gift to a friend, not Valentine’s day gift, so it’s best not to blur the lines of etiquette in this regard.
Whatever you do, the decision whether to give or not to give Christmas gifts to your coworkers depends solely on you. While you should not break the bank, nor sacrifice your family and friends to give your coworkers gifts, you should also remember that one way to foster teamwork and comradely is by giving sincere gifts, not gifts that serve as a Trojan horse to curry the favor of your colleagues. Happy holiday!