Holiday Gift Giving Dos and Don’ts for Tough Times

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It might seem counterintuitive, but even if your department or division’s been hit with massive layoffs, holiday gift giving still can’t be overlooked. Even if it’s bah-humbug all around and the halls are echoing the blues, getting in the spirit of the holidays just may be a good move for those left behind.

Celebrating when the ship seems to be sinking does sound pretty heartless, but keeping morale high is very critical for the people who just may be working harder than ever. Whether it’s a division manager leading the way or a team of professionals agreeing to trade gifts, the message it sends means more than one might think.

According to Jacqueline Whitmore, business etiquette expert and the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals, gift giving is representative of the connections that people make on the job. “While it’s sad to see co-workers go, there are still people left behind,” she tells eFinancialCareers. “It’s more important than ever to acknowledge the people you work with and to show you appreciate them.”

Keeping the Gifts Modest

The gift needn’t be a supersized or expensive one, notes Whitmore. And, especially with cutbacks, it’s best to keep gifts in the office on the more modest side. “It might help to set a limit,” she says. “A lot of people are so caught up in what to give than the spirit it’s given in. It’s about creating a joyous and festive feeling.”

So, what should finance professionals consider giving a co-worker this holiday season? Here’s a quick dos and don’ts list as you shop:

  • Select something that relates to a hobby or interest of the person you’re giving the gift to this season.
  • Try to agree on a price range, if the team or department decides to trade gifts. Otherwise, keep the costs low.
  • It goes without saying, but don’t pick anything controversial or suggestive.

For the Scrooges among you, Whitmore cautions against the negative attitude. If you work in a small division or department, it’s helpful to be a team player whenever possible. Working together is not always about the hard skills, she says. “Team building requires trust, and gift giving is representative of it all. Attitude can make or break the office atmosphere.”

If you’re avoiding joining in, and acting like a Scrooge, that reputation just may follow you in the next position. You never know when you just may need the help of a former co-worker for getting a new position.