Most workplaces host Secret Santa exchanges or events for employees to exchange gifts during the holiday season. As you choose your gifts, keep in mind that these are people you see regularly and that you need to maintain your professionalism amid the holiday cheer. Here are seven gift-giving mistakes you won’t want to slap a bow on. 

Not understanding the difference between taxable and nontaxable gifts

Before you start choosing the gifts for your employees, familiarize yourself with the difference between taxable and nontaxable gifts. Gifts with cash value, such as gift cards, need to be reported to the IRS as taxable income. Inexpensive and commonly gifted items like candles, books, and food are nontaxable. For those interested in a tax-free gift for employees, consider giving a meal gift certificate, as it is unexchangable for cash.

Ignoring company policy

Most businesses will have information within the company policy to avoid gift-giving issues. Though giving gifts is a good sentiment, it can create conflicts of interest, especially if you give gifts to clients and vendors outside the company.

Before giving any gifts, look to your company policy to ensure you understand the rules. If you are a new employee, ask what the traditions are in the company and some gift examples from previous years to gain a better idea.

Buying gifts that are too personal

There is a fine line between choosing a personalized gift and a gift that oversteps boundaries. If the selected gift has potential implications attached to it, it is best to avoid it. For example, giving a colleague perfume may send the wrong message about your intentions or professional relationships.

Not personalizing your gifts at all

On the other hand, you want to add some degree of personalization to your gifts. If you know that Susan loves a specific coffee brand, you may send that. Though it may take some extra effort to gain an idea of everyone’s interests, your recipients will be sure to appreciate it.

Giving gifts to a select few

If you decide to purchase gifts for one person, purchase something for everyone to avoid conflicts of interest, especially if you choose a gift for employees. Even if you have coworkers that feel more like best friends, it is inappropriate to single them out.

Though you may want to show appreciation for your boss, giving them a gift may come off wrong. If you choose your boss for Secret Santa, consider asking everyone to pitch in to select a gift from the entire team. You’ll want to avoid the appearance of obsequiousness whenever you give gifts to your manager or leader. 

Spending too much

Though you may feel extra generous during the holiday season, it can make other employees feel uncomfortable. Your coworkers may not have the financial ability to give a gift of the same value or feel like you have another intention behind spending so much. Stick within the price range and avoid going overboard.

Choosing not to give gifts at all

It would help if you always involved yourself in your office traditions. Budgeting for professional gifts beforehand can help you stay on track. If you are struggling financially, consider gifting DIY gifts, such as baked goods.

Wrap up

Choosing the right gifts in the workplace can keep you from creating tension with your teammates. Before choosing your gifts, understand the company policy and the difference between taxable and nontaxable items. Add a little personalization to your gifts, but don’t get too personal, overspend, or single anyone out.