Office Christmas gifts - is separate but equal okay?
December 3, 2016 7:32 AM   Subscribe

I want to give the same Christmas gift to two of my team members, and a different gift to the third. Plus, the gift would be a rerun for one of the two, as it would replace the same item I gave her previously, which got broken. Should I do this, or move on to a different gift idea entirely? Specifics inside.

Two years ago I gave my two team members decorative wireless mouses for Christmas. The gifts were functional, pretty, and I believe they were appreciated by the team. Since then, staffer A continues to use hers, B has broken hers, and I hired C, who does not have one but I suspect she might like one. I am considering gifting mouses for B and C, and giving a different gift (but of similar value) to A. But is it odd to not give the same gift to all three? And is it weird to give person B the same gift I gave two years ago? Or should I let the mouse idea go and move on?
posted by mama penguin to Work & Money (6 answers total)
I'm sure your team will appreciate whatever you give them. Overthinking something like this can suck all the joy out of giving. But it's really cool that you care enough to go to the trouble.
posted by james33 at 7:41 AM on December 3, 2016

A new neutral yet non-work related gift for all three!

I know you mean well, but your idea will come off as tacky or unimaginative. Gently... Is your staff underpaid? Do they need new equipment, anyway? People can buy their own kitsch if they want, no holiday required. A nice wireless mouse sounds like something that should be provided by the office, right? Get them something they can enjoy outside of the office.
posted by jbenben at 8:06 AM on December 3, 2016 [19 favorites]

Bypassing the to-mouse-or-not-to-mouse question separate gifts are absolutely fine. I do a (very short, non-apologetic) explanation when I give someone the 'non-standard' gift to pre-empt anyone being tempted to read anything into it.
posted by mark k at 8:13 AM on December 3, 2016

Different gifts are great if they're all personalized or all non-personalized but not if they're a mix of both. I think you have good intentions here but I think I'd go with something else. My thinking

- giving someone a gift to replace a broken thing is sort of different from a gift. It could be seen as judgey unless you know for a fact she loved that gift and misses it every day. (I concur about giving people work things for holidaytime)
- giving a mouse to C doesn't seem like a bad plan if you think she'd like one
- given that I think I'd consider a different small office-y gift for all three
posted by jessamyn at 8:31 AM on December 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

I think a gift card for a coffee shop, restaurant or grocery store near your office might be more thoughtful. Whatever the decorative mice cost, use that as a dollar guide for the gift cards.

The thing about giving computer mice, as a boss, is that people don't need mice. They're provided as part of the job and people will already have their preferred style of mouse at home. Unless these are high-end mice (high DPI, configurable, multi-button, ergonomic, etc.), you're just providing a redundant item that may not even be to their tastes decoratively or technologically speaking. Giving them a food or drink gift card lets them choose something they like and can enjoy.

Getting a gift card that would allow me to choose a nice lunch or coffee would make me a lot happier and feel more appreciated than getting a mouse (especially since I have very definite ideas about my mice). And if I didn't like the mouse, I would never be able to tell you. I'd be stuck "liking" the mouse and maybe "accidentally breaking" it to spare your feelings because you're my boss (thought don't get mad at B, they're probably far less nefarious than I am and didn't do it on purpose). And Jessamyn is right - replacing the broken mouse isn't really giving a gift and can have implications you don't intend.

(Also, did you check with IT before giving the mice? Many companies have a "no unauthorized equipment" policy because IT doesn't want to have to support a lot of non-standard equipment that may cause unexpected problems. Mice generally wouldn't cause a lot of problems, but there are always people who can find a way. Or possible driver issues. Lots of reasons why a gift card is the better way to go.)
posted by i feel possessed at 8:59 AM on December 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

I don't like cordless mice but would feel obligated to use one if my boss gave it to me.

As an employee, I'd much rather have a gift card. If you want to have fun picking out a gift, give them something small like novelty pens to go with the gift card. I'd get them all the same thing and not get the new one a mouse.
posted by Melsky at 12:27 PM on December 3, 2016 [2 favorites]

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