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Employee Holiday Gift-Giving Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts

Employee Holiday Gift-Giving Etiquette in the Office: Do's and Don'ts

The holiday season is a time of joy, festivities, and, for many, gift-giving. In the workplace, this tradition often extends to colleagues and superiors. While giving and receiving gifts can foster a sense of camaraderie and appreciation, navigating the delicate terrain of office gift-giving can be a challenge. To ensure you spread holiday cheer without causing any awkward moments or offense, here are the do’s and don’ts of employee holiday gift-giving in the office.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Employee Holiday Gift-Giving

Do: Check the Company’s Policy

Before you embark on your holiday gift-giving journey, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with your company’s gift-giving policy. Some organizations have specific guidelines or restrictions in place to maintain professionalism and fairness. For example, some companies may prohibit holiday gifts that exceed a certain monetary value or require employees to report gifts received. Familiarizing yourself with these rules can help you stay on the right side of your employer’s expectations.

Don’t: Go Overboard

While it’s natural to want to express your appreciation with a generous gift, going overboard can make your colleagues uncomfortable. It’s essential to strike a balance between thoughtfulness and extravagance. Splurging on expensive gifts can create an awkward power dynamic or make others feel obligated to reciprocate with equally lavish presents. Remember, it’s the thought that counts, not the price tag. These holiday and personalized gifts are perfect for corporate holiday gifting.

Do: Be Considerate of Cultural and Religious Differences

The workplace is often a diverse environment with employees from various cultural and religious backgrounds. When selecting gifts, be mindful of these differences. For example, while Christmas gifts are common in many Western countries, it may not be relevant or appropriate for all employees. Consider choosing neutral, inclusive holiday gifts or asking coworkers about their preferences to avoid unintentional offense.

Don’t: Give Personal or Intimate Gifts

While it’s perfectly acceptable to give gifts in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie, avoid giving personal or intimate gifts in a professional setting. Gifts of a personal nature can make colleagues uncomfortable and lead to misunderstandings. Keep it professional by choosing items that are suitable for the workplace. Employee holiday gifts should be thoughtful but not overbearing.

Do: Consider the Recipient’s Interests

When selecting a gift for a colleague, take the time to consider their interests and preferences. Pay attention to their hobbies, favorite books, or hobbies they may have mentioned in conversation. A thoughtful gift that aligns with their interests can make a more significant impact and show that you’ve put genuine thought into your selection.

Don’t: Give Anything Controversial

Steer clear of controversial or potentially offensive gifts. This includes items related to politics, religion, or personal beliefs. While you may have strong opinions on these topics, the office is not the place to express them through your gift choices. Keep your selections neutral and inoffensive to maintain a harmonious workplace environment.

Do: Give Group Gifts

In some offices, it’s customary for employees to pool their resources and give a group gift or collection of personalized gifts to a supervisor or manager. This practice can help ensure fairness and prevent any perception of favoritism. If you choose to participate in a group gift, be sure to contribute your fair share and appreciate the collective effort.

Don’t: Neglect Anyone

One of the most significant pitfalls in office gift-giving is leaving anyone out. If you decide to give gifts to your colleagues, ensure that you are inclusive. Leaving someone off your gift list can be hurtful and create tension in the workplace. Be mindful of every team member and show your appreciation to all.

Do: Include a Thoughtful Note

Accompanying your gift with a handwritten note is a simple yet meaningful gesture. Express your gratitude and well-wishes in the note, making your gift more personal and memorable. A few heartfelt words can go a long way in conveying your appreciation. Get inspired with these 30 Simple Employee Holiday Card Messages

Don’t: Reveal the Cost

It’s considered impolite to discuss the cost of gifts, whether you’re the giver or receiver. When exchanging gifts, focus on the sentiment behind the gesture rather than the financial aspect. Avoid comments like “I got this on sale” or asking others how much they spent on your gift. Such discussions can make colleagues uncomfortable.

Do: Respect Privacy

Not everyone may feel comfortable receiving gifts in a public setting. If you’re giving a gift, do so discreetly and in a way that respects the recipient’s privacy. This can help prevent any awkward moments and allow the recipient to react genuinely without feeling pressured.

Don’t: Expect Reciprocity

Gift-giving should be done without any expectation of receiving something in return. It’s a gesture of appreciation and goodwill, not a transaction. Avoid feeling disappointed if a colleague doesn’t reciprocate your gift, as there may be various reasons for their decision.

Do: Follow Up with a Thank-You

When you receive a gift from a colleague, always follow up with a thank-you, whether in person, via email, or with a handwritten note. Express your appreciation and acknowledge the thoughtful gesture. Gratitude is a vital component of office gift exchanges.

Don’t: Display Disappointment

Even if you receive a gift that doesn’t quite meet your expectations, avoid displaying disappointment or making negative comments. Remember that the intent behind the gift is to show appreciation, and the thought and effort should be valued more than the specific item.

Do: Practice Gratitude

The holiday season is an ideal time to reflect on the year’s achievements and express gratitude for your colleagues and superiors. Remember that gift-giving is just one way to show your appreciation. Verbal expressions of gratitude and a positive attitude can be equally, if not more, impactful.

Don’t: Engage in Office Gossip

Avoid engaging in office gossip related to gift-giving. Speculating about who gave what to whom or making judgments about the gifts can create a negative atmosphere in the workplace. Focus on the positive aspects of the holiday season and the goodwill that gift-giving represents.

Do: Enjoy the Spirit of Giving

Ultimately, the holiday season in the office should be a time of joy, togetherness, and the spirit of giving. Embrace the opportunity to strengthen workplace relationships, show appreciation, and foster a sense of unity among colleagues. Enjoy the holiday festivities and share the joy with your work family.


Office gift-giving during the holiday season is a delightful tradition that can enhance workplace relationships and boost team morale. By following these do’s and don’ts, you can navigate the delicate terrain of employee gift-giving with confidence and ensure that the holiday spirit thrives in your workplace. Remember that the thought and effort you put into your gifts, as well as your actions and words, can have a lasting positive impact on your colleagues and contribute to a harmonious work environment during this festive time of year.


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