The Bottom Line on Gift-Giving at the Office

There aren't any written rules on whether to give gifts to the boss, co-workers or anyone else for that matter in the workplace, and at this time of the year, giving and receiving, alike, can be extremely stressful.

So here are some guidelines: What is most appropriate and how should gift-giving be approached? According to a consulting firm called Eticon, common sense is the best approach, mixed with some thoughts before actions.

First, the boss. The advice provided by Eticon is to evaluate how closely you work with your boss. Overly extravagant or costly gifts aren't necessary. If you want to give the boss something, give a gift you think the person will enjoy based on his or her background. You're also under no obligation to reciprocate with a gift just because you receive one from the boss, but if you want to be prepared in case you feel the desire to reciprocate, you may want to keep a box of candy or cookies nearby.

Co-workers can be a different story altogether, especially in large offices and work teams. Eticon advises that you evaluate why you're giving the gift and come up with a suitable strategy. If you just go through the motions of giving gifts, you'll be doing what's called "gift-slinging," or just giving to get it over with. Gift-giving should be fun, not an obligation.

Eticon suggests giving something you enjoyed receiving over the years, and if you really just want the recipients to know you were thinking about them at this time of the year, consider only giving cards. They'll make a strong impact, and you can write a personalized message.

Suggested gifts that are appropriate for the workplace include small plants, gourmet cheese and coffees, fancy cookies, homemade baked goods, and gift certificates to video stores or restaurants. Alcohol is not recommended. And don't forget to take the time to wrap the gifts nicely. Such a gesture will show you really care about giving the gift.

And while you're thinking about giving holiday presents - take a look at our online shopping ideas for quick and easy shopping right from your computer.

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