Holiday Gifts for Staff and Boss

By Paula Santonocito

smw - holiday gifts IIQ. Help! I have to buy holiday gifts for the five people who work for me, plus my boss. My budget is extremely tight this year and I can’t afford much, but I don’t want to look cheap. Any ideas?

A. The expression “it’s the thought that counts” seems to have new meaning in the current economic environment, doesn’t it? If only a thought could count as a gift!

In a tough economy almost everyone feels stress about holiday spending. But this year (or any other year, for that matter) it really isn’t about how much you spend. It truly is the thought that counts…the thought you put into a gift.

With this said, avoid gifts that smack of too much familiarity. The gifts you exchange at work should be professional.

There are several reasons for taking this approach, even if you are close to your staff members and your boss.

First, it’s unlikely you have the same close relationship with all six people you mention and if you buy everyone “friend” gifts you’re bound to come across as insincere to someone.

Second, if you become a gal pal to your staff members during the holidays and this isn’t your normal way of interacting you set up expectations for a relationship that you aren’t going to deliver on.

Third, it’s hard to know what kind of personal gifts are going to resonate with each individual. Why take the chance of wowing one staff member with a perfect gift and missing the mark with someone else?

Things Remembered engraved pensInstead, why not give all your staff members the same gift, but with a personal touch?

A Cross pen, for example, engraved with the employee’s name is a useful, personalized, professional gift. And it won’t break the bank. Many jewelers sell these pens and offer engraving. They’re also available from Things Remembered.Pocket briefcase and leather notepad

Or, how about a small leather notepad that holds 3 X 5 cards, ideal for taking quick notes at meetings and luncheons? From Levenger, it’s functional and classy looking and comes in a variety of colors. You can pick a different color for each of your employees.

For your boss, why not go green? A plant for the office would make a great gift, sure, but you can be a little more creative.

Juniper Bonsai Tree-SmallOrder her (or him) a bonsai from Bonsai Boy of New York, which delivers anywhere in the United States. A wide variety of bonsais are available for under $30.

Whatever you decide to give, include a card with a personalized note with each gift. Thank each person who works for you for the work they’ve done this year, mentioning something specific. Let your boss know you appreciate her (his) support. Offer everyone sincere wishes for a happy holiday season.

Consider ordering cards from a charitable organization like UNICEF, which helps children in need around the world, or from the National Wildlife Federation, which promotes wildlife education and awareness.

Be sure your cards don’t have Christmas images-and it’s not only religious images you should avoid in the workplace. Santa sleighs and trees with stars say Christmas.

What if your employees and boss all celebrate Christmas? Other people in your workplace may not. It’s best to keep holiday greetings neutral so everyone feels included.

And speaking of best, now that you’ve figured out what to get your coworkers, you can cross them off your list and move on to your best friend. What do you get her? Check out’s Holiday Gift Guide For Women for some great ideas!

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