5 Gift-Giving Tips for Showing Your Team You’re Thankful On a Budget

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To gift or not to gift at work?

That is the question many employees and employers ask during the holiday season. In a recent survey from staffing firm Accountemps, the majority of human resources (HR) managers said it is acceptable for employees and managers to exchange presents in the office. Sixty-three percent of respondents noted it’s appropriate for supervisors to give their staff a holiday gift, and 58 percent said it’s appropriate for workers to give their boss a gift.

The majority of HR managers say it’s acceptable to exchange holiday gifts in the workplace.

HR managers cited employees should spend an average of $20 on their boss and $24 as a suitable amount for supervisors to spend on staff.

“The best holiday gifts have some meaning behind them and are memorable, says Bill Driscoll, district president for Accountemps. “Think about the recipients’ interests when choosing a gift, and focus on items that are office appropriate.”

Spark PR, a San Francisco-based integrated marketing communications agency, focuses on team building opportunities and giving back as a form of gift giving during the holiday season. The company starts the holiday season with a Thanksgiving potluck and then promotes a local toy drive over the holidays, making sure local children don’t go without a holiday gift.

“We’ve noticed that when a team unites for a philanthropic cause and purpose, we see a major spike in agency morale, which ultimately motivates employees, too,” says Matt Marquess, Talent Director at Spark, which also has an office in New York City. “During the holidays, we want to show exactly how grateful we are for everyone’s diligent work by hosting holiday events, like our annual Thanksgiving potluck. This is an agency favorite and it is a fantastic way for team members to bring a piece of home to work — and express how much we value each other and our work throughout the year.”

Remember, more than the dollar amount, it’s the thoughtfulness behind the gift is what counts, says Driscoll. Personalized gifts that show thought are often better appreciated by colleagues.

Driscoll offers these budget-friendly gift ideas:

  • Homemade items, like cookies or trail mix.
  • A nice coffee mug, note cards or framed team photo.
  • Another idea is to give people items that will prove useful during the busy holiday season, like a holiday wrapping kit with paper, ribbons and tape.
  • If you’re at a loss for gift ideas, a donation to a charitable organization in the recipient’s name is always a nice gesture.

“The key is to focus on what the recipient would find meaningful,” says Driscoll.

What are some best practices when exchanging gifts? Consider these additional tips from Accountemps this holiday season:

1. Give unconditionally. Don’t gift out of obligation or because there’s an expectation of something in return. Similarly, managers should make sure employees know trading presents, even if there is a group exchange, is optional and not a requirement.

2. Make it personal. Show you are thinking of the recipient by finding something he or she will specifically enjoy, such as a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or a book related to a hobby they pursue.

3. Don’t be overly extravagant – or a Scrooge. Spending too much can make the receiver uncomfortable, while spending too little can make the gift seem like an afterthought.

4. Present it nicely. No matter the present, cheerful packaging shows thoughtfulness. Include a personalized holiday card with it.

5. Be thankful. Always express your appreciation. Go the extra step and send a handwritten thank-you note that expresses your appreciation for their help throughout the year.  

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