If you’re feeling the frenzy of holiday gifting and finding the perfect present for everyone on your list, the thought of what to buy the people you work with might seem like yet another decision to stress over. You spend eight hours a day, five days a week (at least!) with your coworkers — that means over the 52 weeks in a year, you might spend somewhere in the vicinity of 2,080 hours together. Anyone you spend this much time with should be easy to check off your list, but workplace protocol adds an extra layer of complication and confusion that makes the best gift ideas for coworkers some of the toughest to figure out.
So you probably have some questions: What’s an appropriate present for a professional environment? How much are you supposed to spend? Do you need to buy a gift for everyone you’ve ever sat through an unnecessary meeting with? While every office is different, and your work wife might pose an exception to the rules, there are some general guidelines that can help direct you.
“Some offices have a gift-giving limit, while other offices have no gift policy. Always check with your supervisor or the company handbook before moving forward,” notes Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert, author, and owner of The Protocol School of Texas. To cut down on uncertainties regarding expense and avoid unintentionally hurting anyone, she suggests an office-organized gift exchange. “The best way to do gifts in the office is a gift exchange. This way no one‘s feelings get hurt if one person gets a gift and someone else is left out.”
Maximum price limits are typically established beforehand with Secret Santa and White Elephant exchanges, which is especially helpful if you’re on a budget. With these types of arrangements, it’s best to keep the gift generic and universal, and of course, HR-friendly. Use your discretion, based on the culture and practices of your workplace. (For example, if your office hosts regular happy hours, a boozy gift is probably okay.) Typically though, Gottsman advises, “Do not give a coworker anything that would come across as overly personal. Steer clear from gag gifts and anything to do with politics or religion. It goes without saying that you would not give anything that would appear to be inappropriate, or suggestive, but, it’s worth mentioning since some coworkers may need a refresher in boundaries.”
If you’re worried about what, if anything, to get your boss, err on the side of simplicity — or better yet, make it a group thing. “It’s nice to give your boss a small token, preferably something home baked and definitely impersonal,” says Gottsman. “If you know she is a collector of a particular item, and it’s inexpensive, feel free to give it as a gift. But, certainly do not give anything expensive that could be looked upon as brown-nosing. The best thing to do is pool resources with coworkers and give your boss a gift from the team rather than you individually.”
Understandably, you may still want to give more personalized gifts to certain colleagues outside of the official exchange. In this case, Gottsman recommends doing so away from your other coworkers: “If you only plan to give a gift to one or two people at the office, go out to lunch or meet after work and exchange gifts. It’s uncomfortable for some coworkers to receive gifts while others will see the exchange and feel left out. If you are not only coworkers, but close friends after hours too, save your gift for the weekend when you get together socially.”
Now that you're armed with the proper etiquette, scroll on for a collection of options that you'll want to give and your coworkers will actually want to get, from small trinkets for your company exchange to something suitable for your supervisor, plus some more personal picks for your 9-to-5 ride or die.
A blanket for the coworker who's *always* freezing.
Succulent Trio in Mini Dolores Planter
Adorable desktop plants that basically can't be killed.
The Boss Pocket Notebook and Clever Pencils
A notebook set for the ultimate #GirlBoss.
Extreme Self-Care Robe
An embroidered bathrobe for the self-care enthusiast.
Duo Mirror iPhone Case
A light-up mirrored phone case fit for a selfie queen.
Agent Ellie Kit Detective Game
A skincare set that doubles as a detective game.
Sleek wireless headphones for the audiophile.
Work Wife Needlepoint Pillow
A pillow for your #1 work wife.
The glass bottle of every crystal-lover's dreams.
A bit of bling any astrology enthusiast will love.
Sassy Social Series Notecard Set
Modern notecards for the person who understands the power of handwritten correspondence.
The Bomb Shell Makeup Brush Set
A set of makeup brushes fit for a mermaid.
Budget: Under $50
Limited Edition Cedar Stack Candle
A warm, woodsy candle with a limited-edition holiday look.
"All-American Ads of the '90s" Book
A stylish tome for your colleague's cubicle shelves or coffee table.
Manicure Gift Card
A gift card she'll actually use.
Bright Eyes Holiday Set
A sleep/eye mask set for the professional jetsetter.
Teddy Faux Fur Bucket Bag
A furry bag that'll add a cozy touch to any winter outfit.
Tech 2.0 LED Makeup Mirror
Impressions Vanity Co.
An illuminated mirror for those pre-meeting touch-ups.
Hologram Shemergency Kit
A prepared-for-anything kit that'll come in handy with every headache, stain, or broken nail.
Up 2 No Good Shawty? Priscilla's 3D Ombré Lip Essentials
A lippie set worthy of Rihanna's bad gals.
Color Pop Crystal Bookends
Minimalist bookends for her desk or home.
What Would Beyoncé Do? Nameplate
He Said She Said
A nameplate to guide every Beyhive bae's day.
Animal Print Scarf
A tiger print scarf for the office glamour girl.
"Becoming" by Michelle Obama
The book that falls under "required reading."
Gold Stainless Steel Straws
Reusable gold straws that are eco-friendly and chic.
Neon Green Beanie
A beanie that taps into the slime green trend.
Facial Spray Trio
A trio of spritzes for a mid-day skin refresh.
Costello Rectangle Sunglasses
Ultra-cool sunnies for the woman who's never without her shades.
Rose Quartz Crystal Facial Roller
A quartz face roller for the beauty gadget guru.
Christmas Candy Box Bath Set
A set of bath bombs for the ultimate de-stress sesh.
Gold Codify Pencil Holder
A golden desk organizer to sooth every Type-A's soul.
A grown-up party game for the office happy hour.
2019 WTF Planner
A cute planner for the organized woman who lives by her calendar.
Serious Business Woman Thermal Mug
A coffee thermos to inspire her post-caffeine mood.
Mini Healthy Heat Ceramic Styling Iron
An adorably tiny hot tool for quick hair fixes.
Baron von Fancy Keytag
Tongue-in-cheek tags for that person who's constantly losing their keys.