You shouldn’t feel like you absolutely must buy expensive gifts for any of your coworkers, much less all of them. Some offices have an annual Secret Santa drawing where you pick one coworker’s name out of a hat randomly, and that’s a great way to spread some holiday spirit without forcing people to overdraft their bank accounts. And the main goal should be to make people feel happy and valued.
You can also bring in some holiday cookies or other treats if you’re looking for a way to brighten up the day without spending a ton of cash. Pretty much everyone in the office loves homemade food. In fact, most offices would be delighted with food from your local fast food restaurant’s dollar menu, as long as they don’t have to pay for it. Nothing tastes as good as free food in the middle of a hard day at work.
If, however, you’re looking for ways to show your appreciation to one or two co-workers who really go above and beyond, you have options there as well.
For the administrative assistant who does it all
Almost every office has an administrative assistant who really helps keep the place running. She answers phone calls and transfers them without missing a beat. She files away important documents neatly and efficiently. If you approach her desk and ask where the office’s supply of pens are kept, she’ll hand you three new ballpoint pens without blinking. The office has trouble functioning when she calls in sick, and she doesn’t call in sick very often.
This holiday season, it would be great if you and a few others could pool your money and get her a nice basket full of bath and spa goodies. She deserves some relaxation, right? Once you’ve got the money in hand, do a little research into the best overnight face mask and the best treatment for tired, aching feet. Once you’ve gone shopping, wrap up the basket with a nice bow and present it to her at lunch one day. Tell her she deserves some time to treat herself.
For the longtimer on the verge of retirement
In today’s economy, it’s getting harder and harder to find people who have stayed with the same company for 20 years, 30 years, or even longer. These people are usually great sources of institutional knowledge. Do you want to know about the fire that took out the second floor in 1987? Go talk to Bob; he can tell you all about it. In most cases, companies are less interesting places once people like Bob leave. The company higher-ups may or may not get him a gold watch once he leaves, but that doesn’t mean you and your colleagues can’t get him something. If you know Bob likes to drink Scotch on the weekends, then team up to buy him a gift certificate to the best liquor store in town. This is assuming that your office culture won’t frown on gifts related to alcohol; some more conservative businesses environments will. Bob will no doubt be moved. Just don’t ask him what life was like during Prohibition. He may be old, but he’s definitely not that old.