Q&A: What are appropriate gifts to buy colleagues?

If you’re participating in a present exchange at the office this year, consider baked goods, charitable donations and gift cards.

Q: We’re doing a gift exchange in the office. What are appropriate gifts to buy colleagues?

A: Perhaps a better question is, “what are inappropriate gifts to buy colleagues?” if you’re participating in a Secret Santa, Yankee Swap or any other kind of present exchange at the office this year. (Note: dashboard hula girls rank right up there among unsuitable things to wrap up for coworkers.)

According to the Emily Post Institute, steer clear of booze (reserve bottles of wine for neighbours and friends), personal items (think reindeer-printed boxer shorts) and big-ticket buys (expensive pens, for example). Instead, consider baked goods (take allergies into consideration, of course), donations to charities close to the recipient’s heart or gift cards to local restaurants or hot spots. As for buying for the boss, suggest your department go in on a present as a group. “Have an envelope at your desk for anonymous contributions but let it be known that the amount and even participation is entirely up to the individual.”

About the Author

Lisa van de Geyn


Lisa van de Geyn is a freelance writer based in Toronto.

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