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How Much Do You Know About Office Gift Giving Etiquette?

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 2 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Office Gift Etiquette Christmas Baby

Gift giving etiquette in the office is one of those little acknowledged issues that can actually make you feel rather awkward.

We’ve all been there – the receptionist comes round with an envelope with ‘Stacey’ written on the outside and an expectant look on her face. ‘It’s for Stacey’s new baby’ she says. You say ‘Who’s Stacey?’ because you’ve never heard of her, thinking this is a perfectly fair reason why your five pound note does not have to join those already in the envelope, but actually it makes you sound like a miserable old bag that can’t stand children and is really mean.

So, what can you do? You don’t want to be handing over a handful of notes every month when you’re careful not to waste money on yourself, let alone people you’ve never heard of, but neither do you want to be the office tightwad.

Ask yourself the following questions and see where you stand on the complex issue of office gift giving, then see what it reveals about you and what you can do to improve.

Christmas Office Gift Etiquette

It’s the beginning of December and that familiar dance called ‘Secret Santa’ rears its ugly head. The limit is £5 and you get given the name of the office accountant you barely know. Do you –

a)Find a decent bottle of supermarket wine on special offer and put a bow round it?
b)Find something in your cupboard that you’re sure is new and wrap it up quickly?
c)Find out about his secret hiking habit and find some speciality crampons – who cares about blowing the budget?
d)Laugh in the face of the whole crazy thing – no one will notice if you don’t bother?

Birthday Office Gift Etiquette

So the dreaded envelope comes round and you’re expected to contribute. Do you:

a)Reach into your purse or pocket and throw a few coins into the envelope – checking that there are at least two or three gold ones?
b)Reach into your purse or pocket and throw a few coins into the envelope – making sure there are plenty of brown ones to make a noise and certainly no more than one gold one?
c)Reach into your purse or pocket and pull out as much as you can lay your hands on – possibly a fiver and certainly a few extra chunky gold coins?
d)Say ‘Who is it for today then…..oh, him, I don’t think so” and laugh bitterly.

New Baby Office Gift Etiquette

Sarah from marketing has been off on maternity leave to have her little bundle of joy and is due into the office to show the little one off. There’s a whip round for a present. What do you do?

a)Put a few pounds into the envelope and sign your name in the collective card?
b)Make a big flourish signing the card to cover up for the fact that you only put 56p in the envelope?
c)Order some extra soft pashmina wool and carefully hand knit a jacket and booties set to add to the £5 you put in the collection?
d)Say ‘Oh that’s why I’ve not been able to get hold of anyone in marketing for ages’ and write ‘When are you coming back to work?’ in the card with an IOU?


If you answered mainly a) you are smartly treading an appropriate corporate line for gift giving in the office, although not being a whole bunch of fun. Lighten up a bit.

If you answered mainly b) you are both mean and greedy. Either find a job where you like the people you work with more or start your own business.

If you answered mainly c) you are certainly generous, but probably with too much time on your hands – this will not help you get treated with respect in the workplace.

If you answered mainly d) you are unlikely to have a job for much longer, so you will not have to bother with such trivial matters!!!

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