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Ed’s Guide to Holiday Gift-Giving at Work

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—store window decorations are up, lights are hung, and you have a head start on your shopping. (Go, you!) In between finding the perfect gift for your parents and RSVP’ing to holiday parties, you get an email about attending your office shindig. Now that you’ve accepted the invite the question is, “Who do you gift and what do you gift them?” No worries! Whether you’re sticking to a low-key exchange or your office is planning on a full-blown Secret Santa, Ed has tips and tricks to get you through the holidays.

What to Buy When…You’re New on the Job 

Ed agrees. Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking. Being the new face around the office when everyone is getting in the holiday spirit can make you ask yourself, “Do you gift your entire team of editors, or just your boss?” If you work with a group of editors on a day-to-day basis, but can’t afford to give everyone a little something (and you shouldn’t feel pressured to even if you can afford it), stick to a simple card with a personal note or bake homemade cookies for the staff to share. “Sweets, like a bag of candies or homemade cookies, would be nice for any editor because they’re not too expensive, and who doesn’t love sweets?” says Rachel Swalin, social media editor at and

What to Buy When…You’re Plum Out of Ideas for Your Work BFF

When your job is to test and write about beauty products, what do you gift someone who can probably find everything on their list in the beauty closet?

“Since most of the beauty girls are as obsessed with vanity organization as they are with makeup, the ultimate simple gift for them is a Diptyque candle,” says Chloe Metzger, beauty editor at Stylecaster. “It’s gorgeous sitting against a monochromatic makeup scheme, and when the wax runs out, it doubles as a chic holder for eyeshadow brushes, bobby pins, or Q-tips.”

Don’t have any beauty friends? Still stumped? How about you invite your work buddy out for drinks–you’ll buy her a fancy cocktail for Christmas. (And likely she’ll return the favor.)

What to Buy When…You Have a Budget 

If you can’t narrow down your ideas, try focusing on how much you’re willing to spend. Stick to presents that speak to your coworkers–you’re in the office with them every day and no one knows their fun and quirky side better than you. For instance, if your coworker is a joe addict (even the Starbucks barista knows her order and spells her name correctly) give a one-of-a kind mug she can keep on her desk. “A drink shaker or a really nice photo book from a photographer is fun,” says Gabrielle Levy, assistant photo editor at Family Circle. “I also jokingly love having a blanket at my desk so that’s something funny, but useful, if your office is always cold.” Personal gifts based off an inside joke or a hobby show you’re considerate without going over the top.

What to Buy When…You Draw Your Boss for Secret Santa

Secret Santa is a fun way to get the entire office involved in the holiday spirit, but when you pick the person who has the power to hire (and fire, gulp!), it can put a stressful spin on things.

No matter who you pick, boss included, make sure to stick to the rules of the game. So, if the price limit is $15, that’s what you should spend.

“Last year, we did an office-wide Secret Santa. I, of course, pulled my boss’s name from the hat,” says Jamie Blynn, staff editor at Us Weekly. “At first, I felt the pressure to get him the perfect gift but after sitting on it for a few days, I realized I know a lot about him—after all, I do sit outside his office! I ended up getting him personalized pencils because he was always looking for a pencil.”

What to Buy When…Your Boss Buys You A Gift (And You Got Her Nada)

Nothing. Seriously, the etiquette of the office is that you give down, not up. So if your boss is kind enough to get you something, don’t feel obligated to run out and get her something in return. If you want to, sure. But she doesn’t expect it. A heartfelt thank you is enough. After all, she knows how much money you make and she remembers how scrapped for cash she was when she was in your spot.

Happy Holidays, Whippersnappers!


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