How Do You (Appropriately) Give Gifts to Co-Workers and Bosses?

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Ressler 7 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #174393

    Many of us probably feel like it would be a good idea to give a few gifts to co-workers (or maybe even a boss) at this time of year.

    It often feels awkward and many questions float around our minds:

    • What’s an appropriate amount to spend?
    • How personal vs. professional should it be?
    • When do you give it to them so that it’s discrete…or do you give it publicly?
    • Should it be from just you or from a group?
    • Is it okay to do Secret Santa, Elfster or White Elephant?
    • Is there anything peculiar to government that people should know?

    If you have some experience with this kind of thing, could you enlighten me and your peers?

    P.S. If you are looking for something that costs nothing, but could brighten someone’s day, consider one of our gov-specific holiday e-cards!

  • #174403

    Steve Ressler


  • #174401

    Terrence Hill

    I make it a practice to never give gifts to supervisors and co-workers, other than some sweets, cookies, etc. Below is the official guidance from our agency ethics officer, but it is probably better to donate the money in the person’s name to CFC. I especially shy away from giving gifts to my supervisors and managers to avoid all appearances of coersion, especially during the current performance bonus time.

    By the way, thanks for your GoLoop holiday e-cards! Nice gift to your readers!

    Employees may give gifts to one another but the gifts must be valued at $10 or less from an employee receiving less pay unless there is no supervisor-subordinate relationship. If the two must have a personal relationship, the gifts may exceed $10.

    Supervisors may not accept gifts valued more than $10 from subordinates. These restrictions apply to the value of the gift received, not the individual contribution of subordinates. Employees may participate in organized gift exchanges as long as such participation is completely voluntary, meaning supervisors should not suggest or require participation, and the limit is $10 or less.

    Contractors may voluntarily participate in holiday gift exchanges if the value of the gift is valued at $20 or less and the contractor uses his or her personal funds. Contractors may not be solicited directly by government employees to participate in holiday gift exchanges as this would be an improper gift solicitation and a misuse of an employee’s official position. Giving gifts to contractors is not recommended, as it may then encourage the contractor to feel obligated to reciprocate.

    Contractors may not participate in Government office parties unless they do so on their own time and the contractor does not charge the time to the Government contract. Employees may not solicit contractor participation in office parties. If a contractor expresses an interest in attending, then the appropriate contracting officer should be consulted before permitting the contractor to participate. If contractors are permitted to participate, they must pay their pro-rata share for food and drinks

  • #174399

    Kevin Lanahan

    We’ve done gift exchanges in the past with voluntary participation and a $15 cap. At our holiday lunch, everyone who participated drew a number, and either selected a random gift or “reappropriated” a gift that had been opened previously.

    It was difficult to give anything personal, and the idea that already opened gifts were up for grabs made for an entertaining bit of fun, even for the non-participants.

    If you are friends with a coworker, there shouldn’t be any reason not to give a gift, although it should be done discreetly.

  • #174397

    Steve Cottle

    The DorobekINSIDER recently reviewed some of the do’s and don’ts of government gift giving:

  • #174395

    Victoria A. Runkle

    Between the two holidays I write an individual note to each employee, citing specific contributions to our goals and, of course, thanking them. It is on their desks after the holiday. This is in addition to the motes for specific work throughout the year. The year end one is a punctuation of the year. Write notes to my coworkers for helping accomplish our mission. My boss. No. Just because.

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