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Your guide to holiday gifts at work

Christmas is a time of giving. In fact, it may feel to some that the giving never stops from late November until the New Year. But should you get your boss a gift? Should he or she buy you one? How do you handle the office Secret Santa? Ask a Manager blogger Alison Green has the answers.

To start off, Alison says gifts in the office are all about knowing your colleagues and the atmosphere. Not all companies run a Secret Santa exchange, while others might go all out in the name of the festive spirit. Make sure you understand how things will work and get to know your colleagues before diving in the deep end.

Should you get your boss a gift?
Typical etiquette says gifts should flow down from management, not up. This unwritten rule prevents people from spending money when they don’t want to or can’t afford it. However, there are some offices where everybody buys gifts for everyone and PAs are probably more likely to buy gifts for their bosses than others. In this case, really think about how much you’re willing to spend and what’s appropriate. Sometimes a card and some chocolates is enough.

If the boss is typically expected to buy gifts for staff, a bulk treat such as baked goods or chocolates are a good way to include everybody without breaking the bank.

What if you’re being pressured and you can’t afford to buy a gift?
You might have an extended family to buy gifts for, or perhaps you just don’t earn enough to afford a present for a colleague. Maybe you just don’t feel comfortable doing it. It’s perfectly reasonable to explain your reasons to your co-workers, but sometimes it’s also easier to say: “I can’t afford much, but here’s £5 toward the boss’s gift.” Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re expected to spend too much; if you’re the one to say it, you might earn the gratitude of other colleagues.

Do I have to participate in Secret Santa?
In an ideal world, every company would allow its employees to opt in to Secret Santa exchanges. If not, and your co-workers see you as a miser if you don’t take part, don’t lose your cool. If you genuinely can’t afford it, be sure to explain that. Otherwise, keep it simple. Gift vouchers are sure to please most and food is also normally a winner. But be aware of your colleague’s personal circumstances. Are they diabetic or allergic to something? Do they have religious beliefs that prohibit certain foods? Stay away from anything too personal, as well as alcohol, as some people don’t drink.

What if my colleague gets me a gift and I didn’t buy one for them?
A simple “thank you” will often suffice. You can’t be expected to predict whether a co-worker will buy you a present. If it does feel awkward, follow it up with a voucher for the local café or some sweet treats.

Read the original article from Time Money at