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Should You Be Partying with Co-Workers?

To Holiday Gift or Not Gift?…To Party with Co-Workers? …Those are the Questions! Should you be partying with co-workers?

It’s that time of year when gift giving and holiday parties are pretty standard in the workplace.  But one of the big questions facing managers and employees alike is “What’s appropriate at the office?”

Giving and Receiving

Since gift giving and receiving is always a touchy subject many human resources (HR) professionals have differing opinions as to what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate.  In a recent survey conducted by Accountemps, the majority of HR managers said it is acceptable for employees and managers to exchange presents in the office. Sixty-three percent of respondents noted it’s appropriate for supervisors to give their staff a holiday gift, and 58% said it’s appropriate for workers to give their boss a gift.

To offer a little guidance, we put together a short list of Holiday Office Gifting Do’s & Don’ts.

  • Do give from a place of sincerity. Don’t give a gift because it’s expected but rather because it’s a heartfelt gesture.  Even if it’s an office gift exchange, participate only if you’re okay with the idea and take a pass if you’re not. 
  • Don’t be overly extravagant—or a Grinch. Spending too much can make a co-worker or boss uncomfortable. Being cheap can make the gift feel insincere.  As a general rule of thumb, $25 should be the top of your spending limit.
  • Do make sure your gift is personal enough to show the recipient you put some thought into but not so personal that it crosses the “appropriate-ness” line. A couple of appropriate gifts might include a restaurant or gourmet food store gift card for a foodie or a logo mug or logowear for the raving fan. Things on the “not so appropriate list” might include lingerie or any item that might cause an embarrassing moment.

Party Animal or Party Pooper

Ask any HR manager and they’ll tell you that office holiday parties, especially when there’s a liberal alcohol policy, is anything but a party for them.  As one who has opted to skip many parties or been the designated Grinch in a corner with blinders, it is definitely not one of most wonderful times of the year…Bah Humbug! 

But as we all know, regardless of what tales of woe the Debbie-downers in the HR department may wish to impart, holiday parties are here to stay.  So here are few ideas to keep your holiday parties a merry time for all.

  1. Issue a gentle reminder of expected party behavior and appropriate party dress as part of your party invitation.
  2. Limit the open alcohol bar to small number per guest. Issuing tickets or “gift cards” is an easy way to maintain some control.
  3. Task a couple of senior managers as your “designated party chaperones.” Charge them with keeping an eye on the party goers and discreetly cutting off those who may have over indulged in making merry.
  4. Contract with a taxi or limo service to provide free rides home for those who are unable to drive safely on their own.
  5. The best tip to hold your holiday festivities during the work day, perhaps at a companywide luncheon, where alcoholic beverages are not a part of the menu. Giving your employees a ½ day off with pay goes a lot farther in the spreading the holiday cheer than any trip to the bar.

Please stay safe regardless of how you decide to commemorate the holiday season and make this happy time for all.