Office gift etiquette?


Sep 21, 2007
Quick scenario- I am only buying small things for the ppl I work directly w/ or that do work for me. Talking less than $20 per person, mostly food items, like the towers from Harry and David, nothing "personal" for the most part.

But, there is a girl that is my managing partner's step daughter that works part time, transcribing dictation only. I don't dictate. So, she does not do any work for me. We have minimal contact- such as good morning in the kitchen. I am giving a gift to her office mate, who does some paralegal work for me. Because she is the step daughter of my boss and shares an office with this other person, do you think I'm obligated to buy for her as well?

My thought is no, but I don't want to be rude. The problem is also that she has expensive taste- i.e. Gucci, Tiffany, from what I have heard her talking about that she likes. I think she might be offended by something that was really small also, like a holiday ornament w/ some candy, which is what I'd do if I bought something.


Coach Superfan

is playing catch up
Dec 5, 2006
in grey heaven
No, you shouldnt feel obligated to give your boss's step daughter a gift. If you are uncomfortable giving her office mate a gift, see if you can give it to them when she is not around, since she only works part time. You shouldn't feel like you have to explain your actions. Especially since you already said she doesnt dictate for you. If you feel like you truly can't avoid NOT giving her anything, maybe a $5 gift card to Starbucks??


Aug 20, 2007
Live free or die
Personally I think no one is entitled to a gift. A gift is just that. If you do decide to get something small that's very nice of you. I wouldn't worry about the gift not being good enough - it's the thought that counts & hopefully she'll appreciate if you do. If not, just give your gifts out when she's not there since she's PT.


Feb 8, 2006
Chicago, IL
This is another reason I am thankful I no longer work. I feel guilty if I don't reciprocate, and I don't think I've actually kept anything that I received from co-workers.


Sep 21, 2007
This is another reason I am thankful I no longer work. I feel guilty if I don't reciprocate, and I don't think I've actually kept anything that I received from co-workers.
I understand your point- I feel guilty too when that happens! As to not using gifts, that is why I try to do things that most everyone would like- who doesn't like snacky stuff or chocolate- and even if you don't like that stuff, if you have company or whatever, you can put it out for them!

Thanks all, I'm just going to try to give the other gal her gift w/o her seeing, so as not to create any type of issue.


Jun 4, 2007
this happens at my part time job. I normally give a little something to everyone but this year i'm getting a little something extra to some people. because of this i have to do it outside of work and no around everyone else. kinda sad it has to be that way, but it's an easy way out if you don't want to hurt someone's feelings!

at my full time job, there's only 7 of us and we draw names, so no hard feelings!
I totally understand your dilemna because: 1)she might feel left out when she hears of the others gifts; 2)She is your boss's daughter; 3)her taste is too much for the intended stocking stuffer anyway. This is the main reson I love "secret santa"!
Feb 11, 2006
San Francisco
Just give the gifts when other people aren't around. If you don't even work with her, it's really not necessary to get her anything. She might be surprised if you did and she'd probably feel strange since she'd have to give something back to you.
Feb 13, 2007
You sound very generous!

I understand not wanting to leave someone out. If I were you, I would give her a small ornament or something. I just bought a ton of blue and white cookie tins with wafers from Trader Joes because I want to have gifts for practically everyone. Leaving her out completely would not be an option for me.

I also would not consider her expensive tastes! Who cares.


Feb 3, 2007
Just send her a xmas card. I wouldn't expect much from employees other than well wishes for a Merry Xmas and a Happy New year. Otherwise, you can just bake her some cookies and package it in cute cellophane wrapper.
Jun 11, 2006
i would give her a little something... i am just a fan of that... you never know when/if you will need someone in the future - and they remember these things!!


Feb 13, 2007
East Coast
Bath & Body WOrks has those anti-bacterial lotions and soaps for 4/$ 5 bucks each! Easy little gift...and who doesn't need anti-bacterial at this time of year!