How to Rise Above Gift Exchanges at Work


Obligatory gifts aren’t gifts. Generosity requires freedom. 

Gift giving was magic when our children were young. Some years money was tight and we added homemade gifts to store-bought. During prosperous years we over did it.

Generosity delights everyone.


Avoid giving gifts at work. If your office doesn’t do it, don’t start. If you currently give gifts at work, be a scrooge and end the practice. Better yet, find an authentic alternative for spreading holiday cheer.

Adopt a needy family and buy
gifts for them rather than each other

Awkward obligation:

Office gift giving is an awkward obligation. Gift exchanges are obligatory strokes and butt-kisses. You end up giving gifts to people you don’t like.

If you are personal friends with co-workers, bosses, or support staff, give gifts outside the office. Make it personal and private.

5 rules for giving gifts in the office (if you can’t escape it):

  1. Give the same gift to everyone.
  2. Never give personal gifts in the office.
  3. Follow current gift giving protocols if you don’t have authority. Rocking the boat isn’t worth it.
  4. Gift giving in small offices makes sense.
  5. Be known for daily acts of generosity.

Giving and receiving enriches life. But, office gift exchanges are a pain in the neck.


What others are saying about gift exchanges at work. “Holiday gift exchanges at work ______,” on Facebook.

What are your thoughts on giving gifts in the office?

How can organizations spread holiday cheer within the office?

keynotes and workshops