If you’re the boss, finding the right gifts for your employees can be fraught with questions: How much do you spend? Should you spend the same amount of money on each person? And if you don’t know someone well, how do you make sure they like the gift while still keeping it professional?
To be clear, managers don’t have to give their staff members gifts, but it’s a nice gesture if you want to do it — and in some offices it’s very much expected. (Although keep in mind that managers should never expect or encourage gifts from employees. Because of the power dynamics involved, gifts at work should flow down, not up.)
If you decide to buy gifts for your staff, the question of how much to spend will vary by office. If you’re a partner at a big law firm, you might be spending a few hundred dollars on your assistant (or even more); if you’re a manager at a nonprofit, it might be more like $10 a person. So know your office (and if you’re unsure, ask other managers what they’re doing), but whatever you spend, keep it roughly equivalent for each person on your team. Don’t play favorites; people will notice if one person gets an iPad and another gets a scented candle.
So what should you actually get people? Below, we hunted down 35 ideas for everyone on your team.
For the employee who’s always cold
For the employee who’s always hot
For the employee who keeps saying she wants to bring lunch from home
Who wouldn’t want to bring their lunch in this sturdy, insulated Japanese-style Bento box set? Equipped with two stackable containers and a small container for sauces or dressings, it makes keeping foods separate easy — and the pieces can be popped straight into the microwave.
For the employee whose desk is a mess
This mini vacuum picks up crumbs, dirt, and lint, and can even be used to suction dirt out of a keyboard. Plus it comes in various colors, including, yes, millennial pink.
For the intern
For the person who thinks they know everything
For the employee who has an aromatherapy mister at her desk
For the employee who works from home
For the employee who runs the office book club
For the employee who works from home whenever it snows
For the employee who insists on coming in sick
For the employee whose phone is always dying
For the employee who goes to every Marvel movie on opening night
For the employee who brings in amazing baked goods
For the employee who does yoga on lunch breaks
For the employee who drinks the strongest coffee in the office
For the employee with tons of office plants
For the employee who organizes your office’s March Madness
For the employee who was chastised by IT for streaming too much music on the office Wi-Fi
For the employee who’s always traveling for work
For the employee who’s always cracking everyone up
This oral history of Saturday Night Live is a fascinating, detailed account of the show from the beginning, including its fights with censors, the rivalries among its stars, gossip about celebrity hosts, and how the writing happens.
For the employee who just did Toastmasters
For the employee who’s always on her phone.
For the employee with framed cat photos on her desk
For the employee who’s always drinking tea
For the employee who’s always running from meeting to meeting
For the employee who just got promoted
For the employee with the crazy long commute
A long commute can seem much shorter when you’ve got something interesting to listen to. An Audible membership gives your employees a free audio book each month (she chooses the title) — and if it turns out she already has an account, it’ll add those credits to her existing membership.
For the employee who’s always quoting movies
For the employee with the beautifully decorated office
For the employee who sings at her desk
For the introvert on your team
The work world can often seem designed for extroverts (witness: brainstorming sessions and holiday parties), but Susan Cain’s much-lauded book Quiet explores the strengths of the introverts and proposes that we change the way we see them — and the way we experience being them.
For the employee who always burns popcorn in the office microwave
For the employee who bikes to work
This is the Swiss army knife of bike repair! It includes 19 tools for common roadside bike repairs, including multiple sizes of hex wrenches, open wrenches, and screwdrivers, a Torx driver for disc breaks, and a universal chain tool, all made of high-tensile steel and enclosed in a lightweight aluminum case.
For the new employee you don’t know yet
When you really don’t know an employee yet, and don’t have a sense of what kind of gift they’d truly appreciate, a gift card with a wide range of applications is a good choice. (“Wide range of applications” means: don’t get the person a gift card to, say, a wine store, since it might turn out they don’t drink. Online shopping meccas like Amazon are a safer choice.)
Order Alison Green’s book, Ask a Manager: Clueless Colleagues, Lunch-Stealing Bosses, and the Rest of Your Life at Work, here. Got a question for her? Email email@example.com. Her advice column appears here every Tuesday.
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