Understanding basic gift giving etiquette in the business world is important to ensure that what you give, how you give it, and when you give it is appropriate and polite.
Giving gifts in the workplace—whether to your boss or other co workers should always be done to honor a business relationship that is already established. If you give a gift to your boss expecting special treatment or you have a similar personal motive, the gift will be seen as a brown-nosing effort. Give gifts in the workplace only when the occasion calls for it.
When you do decide to gift someone in the workplace, first try to coordinate giving with a group. For example, you and your coworkers may get together and chip in for a Christmas gift for your boss, or you may all contribute financially to give a coworker a birthday present.
No matter who you plan on giving to, do not give cash as a gift in the workplace. Giving gift cards or gift certificates is appropriate gift giving etiquette, but tossing a few big bills into a card is not.
If you decide to gift someone or a group of people on your own, make sure that you are discreet about it. The last thing you want to do is hurt anyone’s feelings or be caught gifting the boss on your own, at an inappropriate time.
If you gave someone a gift and did not receive one in return, or if someone gave you a gift you really don’t like, do not brag or complain about it, and whatever you do, don’t mock or make fun of a gift that is given or received. Be polite, professional, and courteous.
If you are giving gifts among your colleagues and there is a specific spending limit, be sure to stick to it. If you spend more, you run the chance of making someone feel uncomfortable or they might feel that their gift is less valuable than yours.
Choosing gifts that are versatile are important are always a good choice. Food trays and gift cards are excellent choices, although you should avoid products that include meat, since not everyone eats meat. Also avoid gag gifts, which are a definite no-no.
Keep in mind that gift giving in the workplace tends to vary internationally. Before gifting a colleague in another country, be sure to consult the standard gift giving etiquette for that particular culture.