Workplace Gift-Giving Dos and Don’ts

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It’s that time of year where companies are preparing for the holiday and gift-giving season. Giving and receiving gifts may be enjoyable, but it is important to understand proper workplace etiquette before going shopping.

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest offers the following tips for gift-giving in the workplace:

Follow Office Policy

Before you do anything check with your manager or human resources department to understand the inner-office gift exchange policy. There might be certain stipulations on what you can and cannot give for gifts. For example, it might be against company policy to give cash or alcohol out during business hours.

Skip Your Boss Unless Its Baked

While it’s tempting to give your boss a gift as a thank you for his leadership, it’s not actually appropriate to give a higher-up a gift. If you are set on giving your manager a gift, opt for baked goods or something homemade that doesn’t cost a great deal. You can also pool your money with co-workers to give a present that’s from the entire department.

Stick to the Agreed Upon Amount 

Office gift exchanges usually have a price limit to avoid overspending. Don’t try to impress your colleagues by going over the agreed upon price. Shaming co-workers is not the best way to create office camaraderie. On the other hand, if you cannot afford to participate in any gift exchange, simply bow out. It shouldn’t be a requirement in your company to partake in the festivities. So don’t feel bad if you sit this one out. Again, you can always bake cookies and bring those to your office mates instead!

Avoid the Risqué 

Pass on any gifts that come across as sarcastic or vulgar. Even if you know the gift recipient very well, crude gifts have no real place in the office. Stick to something appropriate that compliments the receiver to avoid making anyone feel uncomfortable.

Say Thank You

Mind your manners and be sure to thank the person who took the time to get you a gift. You can do this by either sending a thank you note or by shooting over an email of gratitude.

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Naughty List No More! The Last Minute Shopper Is in Good Company

Written by Michelle Shaffer, BBB Oregon Regional Manager

Last Minute Shopping Blog

I am a last minute holiday shopper. If you are like me, you might have received recommendations for a good twelve step program after such an admission. “I haven’t done my holiday shopping yet” is a statement often met with a gasp if it’s already mid-December, followed by a guilt trip. One friend, and fellow late shopper, came to me, head hung in shame, after her neighbor boasted that every gift was purchased before Thanksgiving and the dough for her homemade holiday cookies was already prepared. Though your neighbors may subtly and not so subtly deem your delayed shopping behavior as deplorable, I urge you not to feel bad. First, you are not alone. (Really this isn’t a 12 step program in disguise) In fact, as of December 15th only 10 percent of holiday shoppers (22.6 million people) said they were finished, according to the National Retail Federation. That means 90 percent of holiday shoppers still have holiday items to buy. You no longer need to feel that this practice of waiting to shop is an affliction or that you are Scrooge. Retailers are actually responding with greater accommodations for this population of last minute shoppers with everything from greater discounts on merchandise late in the season, to staying open 24 hours a day through Christmas Eve, as is the case with Kohl’s this year. With perks like these, more and more consumers are wondering what the early holiday rush is all about. Here are some benefits to not getting the shopping done early:

  1. Stay Home. With cyber sales surpassing in-store sales in recent years, it’s clear that consumers aren’t in a rush to go Retailers are responding to our desire to avoid the store crowds by offering free, and same day shipping. Some online retailers like Amazon are providing free, same day shipping as late as December 24th.
  2. Less Stress. For those who are overwhelmed by options, late holiday shopping can be a solution. If time is of the essence, purchasing decisions have to be made rather quickly.  This can be a no brainer if you know the recipient well, but even if you don’t, the holidays are a perfect season for a quick, gift-worthy find.  Basic items are packaged in holiday flair that requires no additional wrapping!  Even a canister of nuts is made more attractive this time of year!  If you have multiple people to buy for, one stop shopping at stores like Target, allows you to focus your efforts in one place rather than traveling from store to store.
  3. No Buyers Remorse. When shopping early, there’s the potential an item you declined to purchase, due to price, will see a price slash later in December. Many retailers have adjusted inventory so items are not sold out before Christmas like consumers experienced years ago. Waiting until later to shop offers the peace of mind that there is little other option at this point; there’s no thinking ‘something better might come along’.
  4. Save Money. Many retailers are not retracting deals that were advertised much earlier in the season. Some early bird shoppers admit, the continuing holiday deals keep them spending, purchasing more merchandise weeks after they crossed the last name off their shopping list!

Eager to please retailers catering to later shoppers suggest the tradition is catching on. The day is coming when consumers will proudly proclaim “I will be doing my holiday shopping later” rather than sheepishly confessing “I haven’t started shopping yet.” Adjectives describing the late shopper may even change from “lazy” and “neglectful” to “patient” and “contentious.” Why not start today? No additional corrective steps necessary.

10 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Shopping

The holidays mean family, friends, parties and shopping. The more friends and relatives you have, the more shopping you are required to do. Not only do you have gift shopping to worry about, but there is also all of the shopping you have to do for the parties, dinners and other events you will be attending and hosting.

Holiday Shopping Blog
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The bottom line is that shopping is a big part of the holiday experience, and many people get stressed when it comes to holiday shopping. But there are several things you can do that will take the edge off your holiday shopping, and let you get back to enjoying the season with the people you love.

Get Organized

If you start your holiday shopping without lists of what you need to buy and for whom, then you are asking for trouble. Get on your computer, or grab a pen and a pad of paper, and make shopping lists for everything from gifts to Christmas dinner. When you start your shopping, all you need to do is satisfy your lists, and you are done.

Don’t Wait

Many of the most efficient holiday shoppers are usually done with their shopping before the holiday season even begins. These are the people who check online for great deals, and who spend a lot of time in stores comparing prices. Even if you don’t have the time to shop all year round, you can still get a jump start on the holiday season by starting your shopping in September and getting done before Halloween arrives.

Utilize the Internet

The ability of the Internet to reduce holiday shopping stress cannot be overstated. Some retail websites will have holiday promotions during the summer that offer prices better than you would find on Black Friday. There are plenty of apps you can use (and Internet programs that can be used on your desktop computer) that will let you know when the products you want are at their lowest price points. You should utilize these resources and save yourself a lot of money and time.

Develop Some Black Friday Tactics

When it comes to holiday shopping, avoiding Black Friday could turn out to be a mistake. Instead of getting crushed by the crowds in the retail stores, you should try to use some smart tactics to get the great deals without the stress. For example, try visiting major department stores in smaller towns to avoid the huge crowds. Some of those smaller stores still have Black Friday inventory later in the morning, so you can use those rural stores to sleep in and still get great deals.

Don’t Forget Cyber Monday

The Monday after Black Friday is known as Cyber Monday because many of the larger online retailers put up special deals that morning. Since Cyber Monday does not require you to find a parking spot or beat any crowds, you should consider teaming up with someone to expand your resources and take advantage of as many deals as possible.

Make Gifts

If you are a handy person who is good at arts and crafts, then consider making some of the gifts you will give away this holiday season. Some people enjoy good handmade gifts, and you can save a lot of time and money by being able to make your own presents.

Always Be Shopping

When you are out and about, you should always have your holiday shopping in mind. You can even carry your gift list with you and make a note when you see something in a store that you think a friend or relative would like. Window shopping throughout the year gives you specific items to look up when you start your holiday shopping, and can make the entire process much easier.

Make A Budget and Stick To It

A big source of stress for holiday shopping is spending money you do not have. If you have the option of starting a Christmas club at your job or your bank, then do so and put a little money away each week for holiday shopping. When it comes time to start buying for those lists you have, stick to the budget you have created and reduce your stress.

Spread Out Your Shopping

A large majority of holiday shopping stress comes when people try to do all of their shopping in one day. If you start early enough, then you have plenty of time to spread your shopping out and keep the stress level down.

Avoid the Traffic

If you want to avoid stress during holiday shopping, then do your shopping when the traffic is at its lightest. Weekday afternoons and weekend evenings are usually the best times to shop and avoid the traffic.

If you have the right plan, then holiday shopping can be fun instead of stressful. Take the time to be prepared, and don’t let the holidays get the best of you.