What are Some Appropriate Gifts for Coworkers?

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  • Written By: Lori Smith
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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When holidays approach, some people find it difficult to choose suitable gifts for coworkers, which can lead to undue stress. Avoiding items that are overly personal, such as clothing, jewelry, or perfume, is probably best, but that does not mean that gifts should be completely generic. Careful observation of a coworker’s office space may provide valuable clues for an offering that will be appreciated and treasured. Regardless of the occasion, the gift should fit the personality of the recipient, and the price should appropriately match the culture of the work environment.

Many companies adopt spending limits on office gift exchanges to reduce the financial strain on employees. When such a price cap is determined, it is best to stick with it. For example, if everyone in the office exchanges presents that cost roughly $20 US Dollars (USD) each, one with a price of $100 USD may seem inappropriate. Overspending can send the wrong message, and often leads to uncomfortable feelings in the workplace.

Once the price range is established, examining an associate's office area can inspire creative ideas when choosing the best potential gifts for coworkers. Some people display collectible items, like snow globes, figurines, or sports memorabilia, on their desks. A gift that adds to a coworker’s collection is thoughtful and often an ideal choice. In other situations, a colleague who has children or grandchildren may appreciate a frame or photo album for exhibiting family pictures.


While it may be tempting to purchase gift cards, these should usually be avoided. An exception would be in cases where there is something specific that a coworker is known to enjoy. For example, if an associate has an affinity for a special restaurant, bookstore, or movie theater, then a corresponding gift card may be the most appropriate.

Sometimes, it is difficult to figure out what the most suitable present is for a particular colleague. When all else fails, professional items and desktop accessories make good gifts for coworkers who spend a lot of time in an office setting. A stationary box, business card holder, or leather-bound portfolio can even be adorned with a colleague’s name or initials, for an added touch of personalization. If the gift is for someone who spends a lot of time outside of an office, however, then an electronic gadget or travel accessory may be a better option.

In a large company, where multiple gifts for coworkers are needed, candy dishes filled with mints or chocolates can eliminate difficulty in finding presents for several different people. As an alternative, baking homemade cookies or brownies in advance, then individually packaging them festively, can be a fun and effective way to spread cheer throughout the office.


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Post 3

One of my former co-workers had a romantic crush on a new employee. He attended a house warming party and noticed she had two dogs. During the office Christmas party, he presented her with an automatic dog food dispenser. It wasn't a bad gift or anything, but not appropriate for platonic co-workers. She was gracious at the time, but she later returned the feeder and limited her contact with him at work. Gifts from co-workers fall under the same guidelines as other gifts from near-strangers. They shouldn't be too personal.

Post 2

At my office, gift cards are generally acceptable, especially to local restaurants or online stores. I realize they may sound impersonal, but just about everyone appreciates a free meal or book or movie. The main thing about gift cards is to find something appropriate for the person. A vegetarian co-worker may not get much out of a gift card to a steak restaurant, for example. I'd also suggest putting together a mix of gift cards that complement each other, like a movie theater gift card and a restaurant gift card.

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