office gift givingIt’s that time of year where holiday gift exchanges rule the day at the office, and PayAnywhere is offering some tips on how to make an exchange as painless as possible.

First and foremost make any holiday event, like a gift exchange, optional. Be sure to include everyone on the invitation, but don’t make it so people feel obligated to participate. There are a number of reasons people opt out, it could be religious or financial, just respect their decision and move on.

Setting a budget, or spending limit, can stop any hurt feelings before they happen. By setting a limit, everyone will get an equal gift and people won’t walk away feeling like they were cheated.

In a small business, you should know your employees well enough to know what they might enjoy as a gift. But if you have a newer employee on staff and don’t know them as well as older employees, you have to do a little investigating to find what they like. Ask around and see what their interests are, do they have any hobbies or a family? Get the information you need to get a thoughtful gift.

If there is no time to find out about a new employee or coworker, you can always go with these standards Emily Post suggestions:

  • Delicious baked goods are usually a safe bet.
  • Gift certificates to a coffee or tea shop, movie theater, bookstore or online bookseller are perennial favorites.
  • Ask around—find out what his or her favorite charity is and make a donation.

Humor is subjective. Your sense of humor could be completely opposite from a co-worker or employee — and since you don’t want to offend — avoid trying to give a gift based on humor. Make sure your gift is appropriate for the audience and is something anyone can use.

So what do you get the boss if you pull his or her name for the gift exchange? Keep it simple, within budget and try not to use this moment as your chance to leave a lasting impression — because there is a 50/50 chance it can be a bad one. Suggestions for the boss include:

  • Baked goods
  • Gift card to a local restaurant or coffee shop
  • Box of seasonal fruit
  • A donation to a charity in his or her name

No matter what you get your boss, make sure to include a handwritten note thanking him or her for a great year.

A holiday gift exchange is a good way to spread some holiday cheer around the office and, when done right, it will propel you toward a successful New Year.