Gifts for Coworkers?
December 18, 2012 11:47 AM   Subscribe

Holiday gifts at the workplace: incredibly small business edition.

I work in a very small business. There are three of us here: the owner, me, and one other person over whom I have seniority/sort of manage. Anyone have present ideas? I'm thinking no more than $25 a person. Also: is there a reason I shouldn't get them small holiday gifts?

My boss is an all-around great guy (he attended my grandmother's funeral, for instance) so I think a small gift is in order. He is Modern Orthodox, about ten years older than me, and has two young kids. He is of means and has self-admitted expensive tastes, so I'm not even going to try to impress him. Just something nice. Not a gift card.

My coworker is around my age, and has a young daughter. She celebrates Christmas, but that's all I know. We're not big on small talk here, so I don't know a whole lot about her. I would not feel bad giving her a gift card, and I am sure she would appreciate it.

I have never gotten coworkers presents, and I have never gotten people with kids presents, so this is a double-whammy of confusion. My girlfriend has offered up the fact that when friends have kids, one gets presents for the kids, which I am fine with, but hell if I know these peoples' kids. Also, does that hold for the office as well as social life?

NB: In Russia we give presents for New Year's Even rather than Christmas or Hannukah, so I plan to give them around then to buy me some time under the guise of multiculturalism.
posted by griphus to Work & Money (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When in doubt, cook something! Fudge covers a multitudes of situations. Present it in a nice box with ribbon and stuff. Presentation goes a long way but you can also use the "Oh I was just making delicious candy, as is my want, and thought you'd like some." thing to dodge the awkward I BOUGHT YOU A PRESENT DO YOU LIKE PRESENTS Y/N? situation offices can create.
posted by The Whelk at 11:52 AM on December 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

I also was going to suggest giving something edible. Food gifts are almost always appreciated.

You could also try bringing in lunch or taking them out for it.
posted by royalsong at 11:54 AM on December 18, 2012

Books are always a good kid present when you don't know the kids well. Is there a really nice toy/book store near your office? You could get a gift card for the coworker there, and pick up books (you can often tell the clerk ages, and they'll give suggestions) for the boss.
posted by ldthomps at 11:55 AM on December 18, 2012

Mr Vitabellosi gets gifts for those who work under him and a gift for his boss's toddler. In general I think it's nice to get gifts for people "under you" and that those over you shouldn't expect a gift.

I, however, give a gift to my bosses -- but I have six of them, so the gifts are humble and often homemade food. Sort of grab bags of tea or coffee and candy. I give the same thing to the 4 secretaries in my office. This year, I'm giving them all a brush thingy that cleans between keys on a keyboard and has a screen cleaner on the other end, along with exotic chocolates.

(Frankly, I think giving token gifts to my bosses reminds them to all pitch in on a gift for me -- but thats not why I do it.)
posted by vitabellosi at 11:55 AM on December 18, 2012

If the boss is modern Orthodox then he very likely keeps a kosher home and will not be able to eat anything you make for him. He might not tell you this when presented with a pan of brownies - I certainly wouldn't - out of politeness. But a bottle of kosher wine would be very appropriate as, if he is observant, he probably drinks wine at least once a week.
posted by bq at 11:59 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

In this instance, I'd gift everyone with a nice bottle of champagne to enjoy on New Year's Eve. I like Piper-Sonoma, little bubbles, very nice. A bottle of Prosecco and some Chambourd, would also be nice (Kir Royale anyone?)

In an office situation, you don't give kids a gift. Especially if you don't know them.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:00 PM on December 18, 2012

If the boss is modern Orthodox then he very likely keeps a kosher home...

Yeah, food (at least home-made) isn't going to work. Last year he had to call his rabbi as to whether he could eat the cake my girlfriend made, and he felt really bad about not being able to.
posted by griphus at 12:01 PM on December 18, 2012

are there Orthodox bakeries around?
posted by The Whelk at 12:02 PM on December 18, 2012

are there Orthodox bakeries around?

Yes, absolutely. But this is, in a way, a whole 'nother difficulty level because not every hechsher will be accepted by every Jew.
posted by Jahaza at 12:06 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you checked out

It's a really neat website with a lot of products (both food and non-food related).
posted by livinglearning at 12:10 PM on December 18, 2012

Well I personally think that a book on how to decipher Russian tattoos would be perfect (at least it was perfect for me what I got one for Quonsmas)

Otherwise, a book in general, somehow related to SOMETHING they might like, always comes across well. For instance, I recently gave a professional connection a book on Istanbul and told them that it was inspiration for them to visit my city, me, and do some business.

I also once gave someone a quotionary with a quote highlighted about friendship, with an inscription to check that page. You could highlight a quote about mentorship, collegiality, respect, whatever, and write an inscription that relates that word to the person.

Maybe that's all kind of sentimental though, but those are my suggestions.
posted by saraindc at 12:11 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here is a list of Kosher Champagne/Sparkling Wine

1) Yarden Blanc de Blanc
2) Hagafen Brut Cuvee
3) 2007 Hagafen Cuvée de Noirs
1) Louis de Sacy Brut
2) Nicholas Feuillatte Brut
3) Laurent Perrier brut
4) Laurent Perrier Brut Rose
5) Pommery Brut
6) N.V. Drappier Carte d'Or Rosé
7) Drappier Champagne Carte Blanche Brut

I love Pommery, but it's spendy. One of these might be about $25 a bottle.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:16 PM on December 18, 2012

I favor alcohol, like a lovely wine, as a work gift. Or a tasty non-alcoholic option (there are some dynamite non alcoholic sparking ciders, for instance) for people who don't drink. It is festive, seasonal, and slightly naughty, and you can get great quality for under $25 per gift. I deliver in a nice gift bag with a card.
posted by bearwife at 12:27 PM on December 18, 2012

P.S. There are a lot of delicious (NOT sweet) kosher wines.
posted by bearwife at 12:27 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would go for kosher champagne for boss, not kosher champagne for non-boss.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:36 PM on December 18, 2012

I think gifts for colleagues are meant to express appreciation for your shared time, and it's ok for gifts to reflect that. You don't have to go deep or big unless you feel a personal connection, I think people understand that. And I might be off, but I've never felt obliged to worry about colleagues' children. You're not their uncle, right?

(However, if you have good friends or family with kids, yes, it's nice to recognize them with presents. Luckily, little kids' clothes, for example, are pretty cheap. You could get an 18-month-old a devastating velvet dress for $20. Arty stuff's always good for under-eights. 8-18, well, good luck, hopefully they have a 'thing'. I was really glad for my cousin's early 00s Pokemon obsession.)

Do you know any even vaguely personal tidbit about either of these people? E.g., works to music -> iTunes gift card. (I personally would be fine with a gift card.) Has nice nails -> lunch-time manicure. Loves brownies from a local bakery -> card from there. If you've got nothing in that direction, go with booze.

I wouldn't use Russian New Year's as a delaying tactic, though, that's fairly transparent, and the point is to have a nice little moment together.
posted by nelljie at 12:55 PM on December 18, 2012

I don't think you're obligated to get gifts for their kids. Food would be a good option, but I agree that this is tricky, unless you have a way to find out which hechsherim (kosher certifications) he recognizes.

Exception to the food rule: whole fruit (fresh, unpeeled, unprocessed, and uncut) is kosher. A selection of very nice fruit, attractively packaged, could make a nice gift. (Something like Harry & David's famous pears, for example, or you could make your own pear/citrus/pomegranate/what have you selection.)

Also seconding the book idea. Or maybe a unique office plant (something that doesn't need a lot of care—a succulent, or an air plant?), in a cool pot/jar/etc. Though YMMV on that one, depending on your boss.
posted by rebekah at 12:59 PM on December 18, 2012

He is of means and has self-admitted expensive tastes

$25 can get you some very nice tea, and some pretty reasonable coffee. It can always make for an acceptable cigar, I believe. Might be worth a shot?
posted by smoke at 1:17 PM on December 18, 2012

Pure cashmere socks for everyone. (Good for the orthos bc the fibers aren't mixed)
When I worked with just 4 other people, this is what I did and I still get emails from ex-coworkers a few years later when winter comes and they bring out the awesome socks.
posted by rmless at 1:59 PM on December 18, 2012

I would avoid both food and wine for the orthodox. It's just such a loaded, awkward thing.

Cashmere socks are a great idea! My coworkers and I got SmartWool socks from my boss last year, and it was a great gift.

If either of your coworkers have pets, maybe you could get them some pet stuff? It's easier to shop for a dog that you don't know than a kid you don't know.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 3:21 PM on December 18, 2012

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