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Holiday Etiquette 101 -- Tips for Gift-Giving at the Office

December 22, 2005

Choosing the right holiday gift for your colleagues, your boss or your clients can be one more overwhelming task to add to your plate during the holiday season. That's because gift-giving in the business environment has its own set of rules and guidelines.

Jacqueline Whitmore, Office Depot's etiquette expert, has the "etiquette essentials" that every businessperson should keep in mind this holiday season.

* Set a spending limit for gift-giving exchanges. Once a price limit is set among coworkers or for your office's Secret Santa exchange, make sure you stick to it. Limits help participants select an appropriate gift at an affordable price. Whenever you overspend, you run the risk of looking like a show-off. On the other hand, spending considerably below the norm might come off looking stingy.

* Give thoughtful and useful gifts. Gifts that lend both organization and style to an office environment are always appreciated. To enhance a drab cubicle, give a colorful desk accessory like a photo frame, pencil cup, or a flashy business card holder. Gift cards are a fantastic option because they allow your recipient to choose his or her own gift. Office Depot provides a little warmth to your gift card by accompanying it with the "Teddy B Caring" Gift Card Holder; proceeds from the teddy bear purchase go to Toys for Tots.

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* Tailor your gift to the taste and personality of the receiver. Keeping track of your clients' and colleagues' likes, dislikes, interests, and hobbies is always helpful at gift-giving time. For clients who constantly travel, try one of Franklin Covey's Leather Business Card Holders or Planners. For the coworker who never has time to relax, the Office Depot Stress Relief Set includes a massaging back pillow to soothe stress.

* Consider corporate culture. Before sending any gifts to clients or vendors, it is best to check the receiver's corporate policy guidelines on gift giving. Otherwise, a well-intended gift may be returned to you.

* Bring coworkers together to get your boss a gift. Brainstorm gift ideas with your colleagues and have everyone chip in on one group gift for the boss. For the tech savvy boss, the Logitech mm22 Portable Speakers look great and travel well on business trips. Another impressive gift option under $100 is the Leather Executive Shiatsu Chair. If you work in a small office or know your boss well, it's acceptable to give a smaller but personal gift, like a gift card, book or CD.

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