Giving co-worker gifts requires some thought. They should be appropriate and in keeping with company policies. They should represent thoughtfulness but not a great deal of expense. Some companies have specific policies about when it is acceptable to give gifts to a co-worker, and also may limit price range on gifts. Prior to choosing a gift for a co-worker, an employee should check company policy to make sure any gifts are not in excess of the amounts one’s company allows one to spend.
Co-worker gifts should never be jokes or gifts that are sexually inappropriate, as this may be considered sexual harassment. Along the same lines, the gift should not be of an intimate nature. One should never, for example, give night clothing or underclothing to a co-worker, or a gift that might imply a crass joke.
Instead, an employee should make co-worker gifts as general as possible. Gift certificates or gift cards are a terrific way to go. Certificates or cards will allow the co-worker to choose a gift of his or her choice. Alternately, gift certificates to restaurants or movie theaters are good choices too. If the co-worker has a well-known hobby, like golfing or scrapbooking, gift certificates to a golf shop or crafts shop are very acceptable.
Co-worker gifts that are also acceptable are presents of food, such as food baskets or boxes of candy, although it's a good idea to check if the co-worker has allergies or avoids certain foods. Personalized mugs or picture frames are also good general gifts for co-workers. Flowers can be given, although a male employee should probably avoid sending them to a female co-worker. This may be wrongly interpreted as romantic interest, unless one always gives flowers to everyone.
People are also concerned about giving co-worker gifts when other co-workers are receiving no gifts. If the co-worker is celebrating a special moment, like a promotion, retirement, or a birthday, it is usually acceptable to give gifts only to one specific person. Politeness dictates that all co-workers should be treated in the same manner, however. If one celebrates the birthday of one co-worker, then one should celebrate the birthday of all co-workers.
If an employee doesn't choose to celebrate the birthday of every co-worker, then some may choose form a private friendship with co-workers and have get-togethers outside of the office, and not during normal office hours. It is best to discuss and plan such outings outside of the office so as not to make others feel excluded.
During holiday seasons, co-worker gifts should involve minimal expense. It is important to bear in mind that not everyone has the same income. Especially if the office has an annual gift exchange, gifts should not be excessive in price.