Friday 5 June, 2020

Career Corner: Gift giving at Christmas

With Malaika Edwards


Christmas is here!

As in previous years, there have been ups and downs, the good and the bad, and we are now preparing to enjoy yet another holiday season. More than any other time of year, Christmas is gift giving season, and while there aren’t many rules and guidelines about the gifts that we give to our friends and families, there are a few rules about gift giving in the workplace. To ensure that we don’t “break” the spoken (and unspoken) rules about gift giving at work, here are a few guidelines that we should follow during this festive season:

Gift Giving Policy: Before you even contemplate buying gifts for your colleagues and/or clients, familiarize yourself with your company’s policy on gift giving. Some organizations do not allow gift giving or have rules about the kinds of gifts that should be exchanged. Review your company’s policy and adhere to them accordingly.

You don’t have to give a gift: In many offices, employees may decide to exchange gifts using a pixie system or otherwise, and you may be asked to take part in this gift giving activity. You don’t have to. If you do not wish to exchange gifts with your coworkers- don’t. It may be regarded as distasteful to some, but you should not feel pressured or obligated to spend money on gifts for coworkers if you don’t want to, or can’t afford to. Politely decline and indicate that you will not be participating.

Price Limits: If your office does decide to take part in gift exchanges- establish a price limit and stick to it. Price limits ensure that people don’t feel uncomfortable if overly exorbitant gifts are given, and other persons don’t feel slighted if they receive gifts that are well below the price point of other gifts being exchanged.

Gifts from clients: Depending on the nature of your organizations business, receiving gifts from clients can be regarded as payola. Be mindful of this when accepting gifts from persons you do business with. If in doubt, consult your HR Department on how to manage gift exchanges with clients.

The holiday season can be a time for celebration and fun… although the gift giving aspect of it can become stressful for some… remember that it need not be so. Be mindful of the fact that not everyone in your office will participate in gift exchanges this Christmas- be respectful of this. More importantly, recognize that you do not need to exchange gifts if you do not wish to. If you do exchange gifts with your colleagues however, ensure that your gifts are thoughtful and as far as possible will be well received by the intended recipient(s).

As we come to the end of another year, I encourage you to reflect on 2018 and the things that you have accomplished...and on the things that were left undone. Going into 2019, be deliberate in working towards achieving your goals (career and otherwise).

All the best to you in the coming year. I wish for you all good things!


Malaika T. Edwards is a Human Resources consultant and provides advisory services to individuals and business clients. She is also a PhD candidate at the Louisiana State University (LSU) where she specializes in Human Resources and Workforce Development. You can contact her at, or on LinkedIn at



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