Good Cheer! Gift Exchange Ideas for the Office Holiday Party

Good Cheer! Gift Exchange Ideas for the Office Holiday Party

Buying holiday gifts for friends and family can be hard enough, but when it comes to gift exchange ideas for the office holiday party, things can get even trickier.

If you find yourself a little uneasy about the prospect of buying the proper gift, don’t fret. These six tips will help make it as easy as enjoying cookies, cakes and other assorted treats that come your way during the holidays.

Start a conversation

If this is your first holiday season on the job, talk to coworkers who have experience with buying gifts for your office’s holiday party. Actually, even if you’ve been to previous holiday gatherings at your office, discussing gift exchange ideas and sharing insights can be a kind of informal team-building exercise. The conversations you end up having will make it more likely that you’ll buy an appropriate present.

Know the parameters

Do you know in advance who will receive your gift, or will the recipient be determined at the party? What about spending guidelines? Is there a special theme? Find out as much as you can before you go shopping.

If it’s the traditional “white elephant” game, where a gift may pass through many hands before finally ending up with the eventual recipient, you’ll need to get something that will work for anyone. Managers have to be especially careful about the impressions they make with the gift they bring and may need to spend a little more or put in a little extra effort. 

Keep it clean

Use the motion picture rating system to give you some guidance for your gift exchange ideas. Use PG-13 as the outer boundary for what to buy, leaning more toward PG or G.

Speaking of movies, prepaying for a pair tickets to any movie playing at a local theatre is a good way to give the recipient some choice while still staying well within the limits of what’s acceptable. To add some originality to that particular gift, cut out movie ads for a half-dozen films now playing, paste them to a piece of cardboard, and attach a spinning pointer — a simple but clever prop to help the recipient decide what movie to see.

You can take this approach with many types of gift cards (including coffee, restaurant or store cards). Basically, when in doubt, think of things that will add cheer to the proceedings; after all, ‘tis the season to be jolly.

Tap the food network

One place you’re apt to share gift exchange ideas with coworkers is at lunch. Do you and your coworkers have several regular favorite lunchtime spots? If so, consider using gift certificates from those eateries as presents. If you’re on good terms with the proprietors and tell them what you’re planning, they may even offer to increase the value beyond your purchase price as a way of spreading holiday cheer while also rewarding loyal customers.

Thinking more in terms of an edible gag gift? Place several individual-size bags of chips and candy inside a large box, and then wrap it up.

Create your own gift

With so many websites and local print shops catering to individualized apparel and other gift items, the sky is the limit on gift exchange ideas. If you know ahead of time, for example, that you’ll be buying a gift for Amy in Payroll, and Amy just loves baseball, you could get her baseball-themed business cards that say something like “Amy Smith, Super Fan!” and “Contact: Meet me at the hot dog stand behind home plate, field level.”

Need something that will work for anyone? Take a picture of the office and put it on a coffee mug above the words “My Favorite Place!” That should be good for a laugh at any office holiday party.

Have fun

If you approach the holiday office party with a relaxed frame of mind, having fun will just come naturally. Thinking about gift exchange ideas should be enjoyable in and of itself, whether it leads to playful back-and-forth with office mates or just coming up with your own ideas as the big party approaches.

When all is said and done, the office party is about good cheer and good times with good people. Keep that in mind throughout your gift-buying adventure, and you’ll be sure to get something that adds to the fun for the person on the receiving end.