Your co-worker is having a birthday and you are approached to put some money toward a group gift. Trouble is, you don't know this person very well. Does that mean you have to fork out some cash for someone you barely know?
"I don't think you should feel obligated to pitch in for a group gift if you don't want to," says Victoria Washington, a Chicago-based career coordinator for the Computer Systems Institute. "An easy way to transition in this situation and not feel left out is buy a card. This is a smaller financial commitment, and still bridges the gap and lets them know you want to celebrate with them."
Washington says if someone is having a milestone within the company, like a 10th anniversary, it's best if the boss springs for that gift, asking the department to sign the card. "This takes the pressure off the staff, since you never know what everyone's financial situation might be," she says. "And for a big event or anniversary, it makes sense that the company pays for that gift."
Let's see how you fare in our office gift giving quiz.
Question: When giving a gift to your boss, you should:
A. Give an individual present.
B. Go in on a group gift.
C. Forget the gift altogether and get a card.
Answer: B. "If you give an individual gift, it might give a false impression to your co-workers that your relationship with your boss is better than it is, and could cause tension in the office," says Washington. "If you want to give a gift because you are friends, this can be done in private after hours, but not in the office for all to see."
Question: Your boss gift limit should be:
C. No limit
Answer: A. "When you are giving a group gift, keeping the value to $50 is the best way to go," says Washington. "It's just enough to get something nice and not too much that it will make anyone feel awkward."
Question: The most appropriate gift to give is:
A. Starbucks card.
B. Bottle of wine or spirits.
C. Restaurant gift certificate.
D. All of the above
Answer: D. "It's best to do a little research and look in to what your boss or supervisor really likes," says Washington. "Some may consider a gift card a cop out, but If they always have a Starbucks in their hand, this can be a very good choice. This is when buying in a group can have an advantage, because you can all keep an eye out for what they might really need and want."
Question: When giving a gift to a co-worker you should:
A. Do it for all to see.
B. Do it in private.
C. Not do it at all.
Answer: B. "Any gift exchange that isn't done as a group can cause people to make assumptions about your relationship," says Washington. "Even if you have a close friendship with this person, it could cause insecurities to come out in the people around you if they see you swapping gifts. Take them to lunch and exchange gifts there."