The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Office Gift

Buying a gift for someone you don’t know well can be tricky. A gift for someone you work with? That can be REALLY tricky. There are far too many ways to accidentally offend someone with a gift. Yet many workplaces have holiday gift exchanges. Whether it’s Secret Santa, White Elephant or Yankee Swap, here is the ultimate guide to selecting the perfect gift that won’t offend.

Bad Gift Ideas

One of the best ways to select the right gift is to carefully consider what makes the wrong gift. Here are some gift ideas to avoid.


There’s a good reason it’s safer to say Happy Holidays than Merry Christmas. You really have no idea who celebrates Christmas or any other annual holiday. So rather than alienate someone in the office, stay clear of gifts that relate to anything religious.


Although it may seem to go hand in hand with the holidays, it’s always risky to give liquor. Everyone has specific tastes when it comes to liquor and not everyone drinks. Plus it can be an offensive gift if someone doesn’t drink. Skip the liquor gifts for the office.


Although the gag gift can work in some office holiday settings, it can be something of a risk, too. Perhaps you don’t know the person as well as you think. A funny gag gift will just cause them to scratch their head. Also, gag gifts may leave some feeling let down as others receive legitimate gifts, and they only received a gag. The funny gift might not be best.


Made famous by the label-maker on Seinfeld, the re-gift is the absolute worst gift you can offer someone at an office holiday party. Mainly because the re-gift can be identified so easily. Who would really buy a co-worker a therapeutic footbath?

Safe gift ideas

These are safe bets that almost any coworker would love.

Gift cards

Many think the gift card is a cop-out gift you give when you don’t want to actually think of a gift idea. But with coworkers the gift card is a wonderful gift. It shows you want to give a good gift but at the same time are willing to admit you don’t know what’s best for them. It’s actually a thoughtful and realistic gift.


About the best gift you can give is something that’s fun. Big surprise, right? Gift = fun. But too often we forget that’s the purpose of giving a gift. So rather than the boring slipper socks or holiday tie, consider giving a board game, movie passes or a great book. Chances are, if you take the risk and go for a gift you find to be fun, the recipient will feel the same way.


Many things at a store like The Sharper Image or Brookstone are safe to give people. But the key here is that it’s actually neat. Heads up: These gifts can be risky if the person in question already owns the gadget or the gadget is risqué.