4 Tips for Organizing an Office Holiday Gift Exchange

Giving gifts at the office

Organizing the office’s holiday gift exchange wasn’t exactly on your to-do list for the week, but since the boss decided the task fell within your job description you have to come up with a game plan. If you’ve never organized a gift exchange before, rest assured, it’s not difficult. You just have to make some decisions and set guidelines for participants. Use these four tips to get started:

Make the Gift Exchange Optional

As you plan a gift exchange, remember that not everyone celebrates winter holidays. Likewise, some people can’t afford to spend extra money on a gift that they wouldn’t normally buy; others just don’t want to participate in an exchange, period. US News suggests participants will enjoy the activity much more if it is their idea to join the exchange and not a requirement from the powers that be. Once you announce the activity, ask interested people to sign up by calling or sending you an email.

Set a Reasonable Price Limit

It’s important to set reasonable dollar amounts to be spent on the gift. An amount in the range of $30 to $50 is reasonable, and can purchase nice gifts such as Christmas gift baskets from FTD, a pair of stylish gloves, or a journal and pen set. Once you set a limit, remind participants they should do their best to choose a gift that is close to the price limit; it should be clear it’s not acceptable to buy a $15 gift when the limit is $50. Gifts should be tangible; no gift cards or coupons allowed, advises The Organized Executive blog.

Have a Cookie Exchange

Multitasking may be out when it comes to workplace productivity but if your office is full of foodies and bakers, Woman’s Day suggests holding a good old-fashioned cookie exchange. Each person should bring at least two cookies, bars or candies for each participant in the exchange, plus a dozen or two for eating during the party, advises Real Simple. Then set out each tray on a table and let people fill their containers with a variety of goodies to take home to their families. Be sure to have coffee, tea and hot chocolate available to wash down the sweets.

Consider a White Elephant Gift Exchange

Not every company culture will support a gift exchange but it’s always good for an hour of laughter and fun, and some people even go home with gifts they’ll treasure for years. The basic idea, according to oprah.com, is that each person brings a new item from home, such as something to regift or an item that the person bought but doesn’t like. Gifts should be wrapped, and everyone who participates draws a number to decide the order in which gifts will be selected. The first person chooses any gift he likes and opens it. The second person has the option to “steal” the first gift or open a new one. As the game progresses, players can steal a gift that’s already open, or take one from the pile. If a gift is stolen from someone, that person gets to choose and open a new gift.
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