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Office Gift-Giving Do’s and Don’ts

When it comes to office gifts, there is an unspoken code of etiquette. Do you know what it is? If not, let us GEMites guide you!

Office Gift-Giving Do’s and Don’ts

Posted Thursday December 22nd, 2016 by in Fun + Personal.

It’s that time of the year again: the office holiday party and gift exchange. Whether you are buying for a secret Santa, Yankee Swap, or just a coworker who has helped you out over the year, there is a lot of pressure to get the right thing. Because when it comes to office gifts, there is an unspoken code of etiquette. Do you know what it is? Let us GEMites guide you through the different gift categories and the do’s and don'ts of office gift-giving.


Do: Ties, scarves, hats or gloves make nice presents. They aren’t too personal and you don’t have to worry about size when buying them.

Don’t: Any type of intimate clothing, especially underwear, is off-limits. No matter what.


Do: Cards for restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters, iTunes and bookstores are always appreciated. No wonder they are ranked as one of the top gifts to give coworkers.

Don’t: Gift cards for personal items (such as a Victoria’s Secret card) are not appropriate, nor are partly-used gifts cards (yes, it’s been known to happen). Stay away from giving cash too — it’s pretty tacky.

Coffee mugs:

Do: Everyone drinks coffee, tea or water, and mugs are a great gift to give and receive. Ones with humorous or personalized (if you know who you are giving it to) images or sayings are especially fun. Specialty tea and beverage infusers are great complements to the cup if you want to add a little something extra.

Don’t: A plain mug would be as much of a boring gift as it sounds like it would be. On the other hand, one with an inappropriate image or saying may cause excitement, but not the type you’re looking for (if you want to keep your job). Anything sexual, racist, political, controversial or derogatory in general should be avoided at all costs. Leave the “Might be whiskey” or “I’d like to help you, but I can’t fix stupid” mugs on the store shelf.

More Dos:

  • Office supplies like fancy pens, notebooks and fun desktop organizers.
  • Technology such as USB Pens, smart phone holders, and mug warmers.
  • Gift baskets featuring candy, cookies, adult beverages, coffee or at-home movie treats.

More Dont’s:

  • Things regifted from last year’s office exchange.
  • Perfume (Random fact: This blog is the result of a conversation that was held in our office one day when a coworker began asking about a survey he had heard on the radio on his way to work. The survey was: Would you be okay if your significant other got a bottle of perfume/cologne from a coworker of the opposite sex? Responses varied for even more varied reasons, but it was enough for us to reach the consensus that this is probably not the route to go in office gift-giving.)
  • Jewelry: While this didn’t come up in our above-mentioned discussion, the same logic as to why this is not the best gift could definitely apply.

There you have our list of do’s and don’ts. So now you should have plenty of ideas on what you can, and can not, buy for your coworkers. Trust us; we know this stuff. As far as our own Yankee Swap — nailed it!

What are some of the best, or worst, office gifts you’ve ever gotten? We’d love to know!

Have a very happy and safe holiday from our GEM family to yours.


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