25 Holiday Gift Ideas to Make Your Coworkers Merry

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 19, 2012

Don't Freak Out! We've Got Your Office Gift-Giving Strategy Covered

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the rearview mirror it's time for some minor motivating panic regarding your office gift giving.

Smiling at that thought? Tapping your toe to the holiday music? You're obviously ahead of the curve (and slightly obnoxious with the gloating. Keep it down over there).

But if you've been procrastinating and the little holiday alarm just went off, it will behoove you to spend the next few minutes reading this article. We're here to help guide you through the minefield of holiday gift giving---who in the office to buy for, who to avoid, what to get coworkers and bosses---all the way to a happy new year.

Don't Be a Scrooge!

Still dusting off from the discount electronics fray at the toy store last week? Are caravans of relatives bearing fossilized fruitcakes inputting your address into their GPS systems?

Even so (and you do have our sympathy), opting out of office gift giving isn't the smart option unless it's already a legitimate company-wide policy. So, keep any Grinch-y feelings to yourself and recognize the month of December as a fresh opportunity to foster good will amongst your office roomies.

Gratitude is contagious, it looks good on you and basically, you're stuck, so buck up and make the best of it.

Trouble With Your Gift List? Create a Flow Chart

Who gets what?

At the outset, a completed office gift list can look as far off as a mall entrance across an overfilled parking lot the Saturday before Christmas. So break it down.

Who did you give gifts to last year? Who gifted you? What additions have been made to the office staff? Write it all down and then do a quick cubicle check.

Miss anyone? If you have any "maybe" people on your list don't worry, we'll cover those later. But once you've created a flow chart, you're already off and running.

One Size Does NOT Fit All

A volume discount should not be your deciding factor when it comes to gift selections.

Dieters won't welcome scrumptious food gifts. What is hysterically funny to an IT hipster-type may be more than moderately offensive to the maternal conservative over in accounting. The safest bet is always to choose individual gifts for each recipient, keeping in mind possible addictions, religious affiliations and general appropriateness.

If you aren't sure your co-worker will appreciate the slogan ball cap, make another choice. This is one time that playing it safe makes sense.

Follow the Rules & Obey Spending Limits

Follow maximum spending guidelines. Period.

Once upon a time employees tried to best one another's gift to the boss. No one wanted to give the least, so each tried to give the most. Electronics, vintage pens---nothing was too good for the one who signed the paychecks. Until boss-man handed out dainty plates of his wife's homemade fudge festooned with red bows, before quietly resigning to take a better position.

The office gift is a token of gratitude and goodwill. It is not the time for a bribe.

Ready to make some choices? Then check out our selections for all of those one-of-a-kind characters in your office.

Great Gifts Are About Knowing Your Coworkers

Whether your office operates like a team of cyclists drafting off of one another for the common good or siblings elbowing for space in the back seat of the family sedan, the bond is undeniable. Acknowledge it in the manner of summer bunkmates sharing care packages from home.

Improve a too hot/too cold office climate with a warming throw or mini air conditioner. Or show a co-worker you've got his back with a rear-view mirror for his monitor.

If you simultaneously take care of the people who are always too hot and too cold, perhaps a truce can finally be called regarding the Thermostat War. After all, the holiday season is largely about peace and goodwill!

Give a Gift That Eases the Holiday Burden

For those whose jobs require regular tap dancing with QWERTY, give a little non-keyboard finger fun with the Buddha Board, a no mess desktop easel.

And for that stressed-out colleague who needs to get a grip, go ahead and give him one.

It is thought that a Gripmaster, or the oddly mesmerizing Splash-It Egg Yolk, may help prevent the maniacal singing of piped-in holiday music in the unfortunate event of a stuck elevator.

(Not scientifically proven. Results may vary).


Try an Extraordinarily Practical Office Gift

Play it practical with a polite nod to a co-worker's professional acumen.

Give a pocket-sized notebook to capture all of his bright ideas on-the-go, or a business card case filled with the glossy new cards he received with that recent promotion.

Add the Wow factor with a Space Pen (in case any of those bright ideas emerge while he's hanging upside down).

Stimulate Their Tastebuds with Gourmet Treats

For those unencumbered by restrictive diets, give the gift of good taste.

Any item in this food genre should be unusual, splurge-worthy and not readily procurable in the "10 items or less" checkout lane or via a toss from a ballgame vendor.

The product names should be slightly difficult to say and occasionally mumbled by people uncertain of their pronunciations.

Extra points for accent marks, use of foreign languages and general decadence.

Make 'Em Laugh: You Can Never Go Wrong with Ninjas

You go to the same spinning class. On purpose. Sometimes you even dine out together with your spouses. Lucky you.You made a friend at the office.You know he likes to cook. Or that she is a gadget freak.

Consider first if the true gift exchange should even happen in the office. Getting your families together later in the month? Then maybe opt for a token in-office gift.

Wrap up some Ninjabread Men Cookie Cutters and Jazz Ice Cube Trays so you can play with your food and stir your drinks with tiny ice cube guitars at the real holiday get together later this month

The Holidays Are As Good a Time As Ever to Go Green

Between the flickering overhead fluorescents and drone of the HVAC, there may be little in your office having anything to do with nature and the great outdoors (unless we're including occasional dust bunnies under the copier).

So why not give an easy care, fresh air generating bamboo plant? Or how about a money tree to an office dwelling nature lover?

Another option is to fuse natural inspiration with basic monetary motivation. Because it turns out money does grow on trees.

Prune at will.

Get a Little Fruity

It would be hard to offend with a Kosher, gluten-free, low-sodium, vegetarian low-fat dried fruit gift, unless the intended recipient is more of a fresh fruit kind of guy. Either way you can fuel his healthy living with a holiday staple: the fruit basket.

Other helpful gifts might include a water bottle for the coworker stuck in the furthest Saharan corner of the office.

Have a resident camera buff? Focus on a clever camera lens mug. Or if you're the photographer, give personalized photo mugs.

Just don't put your own mug on the mug.

You Can't Go Wrong With Gift Cards

Have you thought and thought but STILL don't know what to give to certain coworkers? Fear not. Old reliable is standing by.

Go with gift cards.

The drawbacks are that it's unoriginal, some consider it lazy gift-giving and they'll know how much you spent. There's no hiding a bargain behind some expensive looking find.

But sometimes gift cards really are the best option. Restaurants, events, retail---it's all but a click away and requires no gift-wrapping.

Ho Ho Ho!

Go the Selfless Route: Give to Charity

Here's a true win-win: Give the gift of giving. We'll pause a moment while you sequence through that thought.

Like you, your co-workers have been battling shopping mall crowds to splurge on gifts for loved ones. They have health care, homes and will probably have leftovers to contend with after all the feasting. So why not celebrate that by helping those who don't?

Here are some familiar organizations helping to fill familiar needs: Red Cross, Toys for Tots, Unicef.

Check out your local services as well and do a double with your office gifting.

Question Marks? Be Prepared Just in Case

That gal from personnel is awfully friendly and was so grateful for the leads you passed on to her. She invited you to her annual Halloween party but you were busy, so the holiday gift may or may not happen.

It's truly a toss up. You don't want to jump the gun by bearing down on her with a tin of butter creams. But at the same time, it could happen to you. Dilemma.

Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared.

Wrap up a generic ornament or food item and keep it in a bottom drawer just in case. It's not the greatest gift in the world, but you'll feel better giving something rather than merely uttering an awkward "thank you" in return.

Presenting the Boss with A Present

No dilemma here. Group gift. You give together or fall (shame-faced and empty-armed) together. The credit (or blame) is yours to share.

Best bets might be of the experiential variety. Consider a subscription to a concert series or wine of the month club. Golf lessons? A racecar driving experience? It all depends on your boss' personality.

Your best approach will be to start with how much each employee is willing to spend and to shop by price.

The bigger the office, the better (or at least, more expensive) the gift.

Follow These Steps & You'll Be Nearing the End of the Holiday Marathon in No Time

You did it! Or at least began to think about doing it. And we're feeling warm and generous on giving credit (and towards giving in general), so "Yay for you!"

Office gifts needn't be the last hurdle in your holiday season. Online options make it easy and search engines make you look intuitive and crazy clever. Whether you're someone who strings fresh lights each year or one who simply maneuvers around them during spring cleaning, the gifting time is nigh.

Employ the brain that got you employed. You're but a snow-globe shake away from seasonal success and a tinsel twist away from a Happy New Year.

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