Succeed this Holiday Season with Proper Gifting Etiquette

Aggressive Santa Claus biting a gift box

Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza …oh my. This time of year is filled with joy, friends, family, fun and STRESS!  Coping with holiday stress is important… that includes mindful gift-giving.


Do I give gifts to my co-workers? To my boss? To my staff? Can I re-gift?

Well there are many questions… so let’s start unwrapping the answers…


Gift exchange at work?

Trying to find the right gift for people you really know can be tough let alone people you just work with. So we have several mindful suggestions when it comes to gift exchanges at work.

  • First off find out if your office is gift exchange friendly. The rules tend to be workplace specific. Some aren’t for ethics considerations.
  • Stick with professional but personalized items… so stay away from Victoria Secret and stick with something from Target, Brookstone or Harry and David’s
  • Understand and stick to the spending criterion. The worst thing you can do is to go over the spending limit while others have not.
  • There are other fun ways to exchange, like a grab bag or a White Elephant exchange.

A gift for the Boss or not? That is the question…

If you are considering adding your boss to your gift giving list year tread carefully. It isn’t all that common and if you want to give your boss a gift you need to think about the consequences. The risk is that your boss might see it as trying to twist the relationship and get an advantage.

Here are some tips if you decide to give:

  • Do your homework…research the history of gift giving in your office. Do other employees give gifts to the boss? If so what kind?
  • Be sincere… The best reason to give your boss a gift is to thank them for a specific act of kindness.
  • Don’t get personal… The worst gifts to give are either expensive or personal. Rule of thumb – Don’t give something that touches the body.
  • Buy a group gift… Agree on a budget, get consensus from the group and voila…everyone is happy.

Gifts to my staff?

Some companies don’t allow gift giving, so check the employee policy guide before you get your credit card out.

  • Make things equitable for all employees at the same job level…everyone should get the same monetary value gift.
  • Know your employees…Muslims don’t typically drink wine, vegetarians probably don’t really want that ham at Christmas and giving a diabetic a whole tin of Mrs. Fields cookies, will leave the recipient feeling that they have been treated impersonally.
  • But keep in mind, most people would rather get a financial bonus or a paid day off than whatever gift a company chooses for them.


And what about re-gifting? There was a stigma surrounding this practice but today it has taken on a new purpose…a re-purpose! But you need to be mindful, so here are some Mother, May I tips to help your re-gift is the perfect gift!

  • Re-gift with a thoughtful purpose, making sure the gift is meant for that particular person. The gift needs to be new and unopened.
  • Be sure to unwrap the gift and rewrap it for the new recipient. Do not embarrass yourself by leaving a card addressed to the original recipient inside the packaging.
  • Avoid re-gifting where social worlds might collide. If there are 6 degrees of separation, then be sure a misguided repurposed gift may not bring that separation closer.
  • It is green to re-gift. Better for that gift to land in a worthy persons’ hands than in a landfill somewhere. Can’t think of the perfect recipient? Donate it before tossing it in the trash!

Check out Mother, May I with KDKA (CBS) on the topic:

KDKA Article: Local Manners Expert: Re-Gifting Gets A Bad Rap


Another option for all of these gift giving scenarios is a donation to a co-workers favorite charity on their behalf…this is always a good deed.

Show your professsionality this holiday through mindful giftgiving… share some of your best or worst workplace gifts on our facebook page or respond to this blog.

Happy Holidays from Mother, May I

Lisa and Demetria

Co-Founders – Mother, May I






Another option for all of these gift giving scenarios is a donation to a co-workers favorite charity on their behalf…this is always a good deed.


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