Make us your home page

Holiday gifts you should never give at the office

Have you ever been at one of those office parties where everyone falls silent in horror as someone opens an inappropriate gift? If you don't want to be the person who causes that kind of a scene, take heed of this list of things you shouldn't give as office holiday gifts.

Anything sexual, even as a joke: "While the gifts may be cute and entertaining, it is most definitely inappropriate and could be perceived as sexual harassment," says life coach Annette Johnson.

Remember that public gifts aren't just between the giver and receiver, Johnson says. "It doesn't matter if the giver and receiver are friends. Colleagues may be offended and find it distasteful and unprofessional."

Perfume or cologne: There are two reasons you shouldn't give a colleague perfume or cologne, says Gerald Glascock of the Southern Institute of Etiquette and Protocol. "It may remind them of their ex, or give them the idea that you want something more than just a business relationship."

Items that violate company policies: When you're giving gifts at a company-sponsored event, you should only give items that would be appropriate to show in a business meeting, says business and career coach Laura Lee Rose.

"Safe gifts are Forever Stamps, picture frames or office knickknacks, something for their kids, movie or restaurant certificates, gift certificate for their favorite hobbies or stores," Rose says. There are a lot of safe gift options that won't violate any company policies or "step on the company's legal obligations to provide a safe, secure and friendly work environment."

Stuff with strong scents: Avoid giving things with strong odors or irritating dyes, says consultant Debra Ann Matthews. "Oftentimes gifts that have a strong odor such as candles, perfumes, scented clothes and decorative centerpieces contain dyes, allergens and other concoctions that may bother people in the office place," Matthews says. "Many times these types of beautiful arrangements are very appealing to the eye, but can be harsh for those who may be sensitive to strong smells."

Insensitive items: Be aware of religious, cultural or medical issues that could make certain foods, alcoholic drinks or other items inappropriate gifts. Try to find out as much as you can about the co-worker you'll be getting a gift for in order to avoid anything that might be embarrassing or awkward for them to receive.

Holiday gifts you should never give at the office

12/12/13 [Last modified: Monday, December 16, 2013 3:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette


    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  3. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]
  4. Despite Hurricane Irma, Hillsborough remains on pace to unlock hotel tax that could pay for Rays ballpark


    TAMPA — Despite the threat of a catastrophic storm, it was business as usual at many Hillsborough County hotels in the days before Hurricane Irma bore down on the Tampa Bay region.

    The Grand Hyatt near TIA closed during Hurricane Irma, but many other Hillsborough hotels were open and saw an influx.
  5. New Graham-Cassidy health care plan stumbles under opposition from governors


    WASHINGTON — The suddenly resurgent Republican effort to undo the Affordable Care Act was dealt a blow on Tuesday when a bipartisan group of governors came out against a proposal gaining steam in the Senate.

    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama's health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. To win, 50 of the 52 GOP senators must back it -- a margin they failed to reach when the chamber rejected the effort in July. [/J. Scott Applewhite | Associated Press]