Ah, Christmas time. There’s a nip in the air from Old Man Winter’s exhales, the world seems a tad cozier, and millions of shoppers with mostly good intentions rush to buy crap for other people.
Before you click REPLY and call me Scrooge, let me explain: Gift giving is a lost art. It has morphed into a seemingly obligatory gesture toward anyone you have even remotely had contact with in the past year. Now we have a sense of obligation to give gifts to bosses, neighbors, pets, dentists, the paper deliverer, teachers (though my copywriter, as the husband of a teacher, has no problem with this since it usually means gift cards to restaurants and retail outlets that he can enjoy,too), barbers, doctors, cashiers— it’s as if we’ll be shunned by society if we don’t buy something for everyone we know. While being generous and giving to others is great, the meaning behind it has been lost in the mire of Black Friday sales and credit card access, all part of this imagined requirement to give people junk, er, presents, in order to prove to them that we like them and wish to stay in their good graces.
There was a time when giving a gift had a very special meaning behind it. You liked/loved someone enough to think about what the perfect present would be to show that person how much you cared. In the office environment, this sense of duty is running rampant. It’s an awkward exercise in butt-kissing and ego strokes, where you end up giving gifts to people you may not like. all out of some politically correct requirement to make everyone happy. Bull manure. If you want to give gifts to co-workers, that’s fine. But please, do it on your own time and in private. Make it personal, not a spectacle for everyone around to look on in faked admiration of your gesture.
If you can’t escape the clichéd Office Gift Giving Spectacle*, here are some rules you should abide by:
- Give the same gift to everyone.
- Never give personal gifts while on the clock.
- Follow current gift giving protocols. Don’t rock the boat; it ain’t worth it.
If you would like to do away with gift giving in the office, consider these:
- Adopt a family in need and have the office pitch in to make sure their Christmas is a merry one. (Heck, why not start it now and keep with it during the year?)
- Adopt a charity and have people donate to a large pool that will be given to the charity under the company’s name.
- Simply end it. Outlaw it. Be the Grinch and forbid the Whos in Whoville from giving gifts during office hours.
In an ideal world, we’d all be known for daily acts of generosity. Being generous and kind enriches us all and has a way of snowballing and spilling over into other areas of life. Gift giving in the office, however, is about as pleasant as being handed a “hot job” at 4:55 on a Friday.
What are your thoughts on giving gifts in the office?
How can organizations spread holiday cheer within the office?
*Gift giving in an office with a SMALL number of employees is fine