You would think giving someone a simple present wouldn’t be a complicated affair. But during the holidays, the gesture of gifting can be tricky. Who gets one? What do you buy your boss? How much should you spend? In an effort to make your holiday shopping a little easier, our editors share their personal dos and don’ts of holiday gift-giving.
Which family members get gifts?
Aside from the obvious musts—mom, dad, siblings—how do you determine what family members get a gift over the holidays? “My family is so big, we usually limit gifts to immediate members, and then do a Secret Santa exchange with our extended family,” shares one writer. “We even set it all up online on a site called Elfster, which makes everyone’s life easier.” It seems many are turning to the Internet to organize their gift-giving these days. One editor admitted everyone in her family made online wish lists and then emailed them out to each other, taking the guessing out of the equation. If you’re spending Christmas with your in-laws, it’s okay to limit your giving to only your mother-in-law and father-in-law. “I used to only get presents for my boyfriend’s parents, until one year I branched out to his aunts, so then they felt obligated to get me something from then on,” says one editor. “I think in the end, skipping presents is almost appreciated on the other side. It takes the pressure off the table.”
What about your friends?
Most of the staff said they no longer exchange gifts with friends. “It was something I used to do back when I was in college,” says one editor. Instead, most of them now choose to do something together as a mutual present. “My girlfriends and I always decide on something fun like going to see a play or having a spa day or a very nice dinner,” says one writer. If you do exchange gifts with friends, make sure you open the gifts at home and not in front of each other, says one editor. “It’s better this way. There’s no awkwardness or comparisons among them.”
In new relationships
There was a bit of disagreement among our staff regarding gift-giving during an early courtship. “If you’ve just started dating someone, even if it’s only been a few weeks, a little token is always thoughtful,” says one writer. But one of our editors was strongly opposed: “I think you have to be seeing each other for at least six months before you start buying them anything!” The jury is still out on this one.
As for who in the office gets a gift, the general feeling is you should give something to either your assistant or someone you work with very closely to show them how much you appreciate their effort throughout the year. As for your bosses, while it’s not obligatory, a little something never hurts. “They’re aware of your pay grade, so there’s really no need to impress them,” adds one fashion editor. Finally, if you love giving your office mates presents, make sure to bring a gift along for everyone—and keep it under $ 25. “You don’t want everyone to start speculating how much money you actually make,” says one writer.
What not to give
Even though we work in the fashion industry, all of us agreed that clothing is usually a bad idea—unless it’s something the other person has specifically mentioned they wanted in the past. “The holidays are really not the time of year to force your personal style on others,” said one fashion editor. Other faux pas? “I hate it when people give me a funny gift,” says one beauty editor. “Honestly, who has ever liked a gag gift?” Finally, the general consensus in the office is, unless you’re an actual chef, artist, or designer, stay away from anything homemade. “My friend always gives me this jar of some nonsense she makes in the kitchen,” says one writer. “Just give me a card next time.”
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