The art of gifting
The gift should serve as a catalyst in strengthening the relationship, not a standalone commodity bought to please. It should convey your sentiments to the recipient, the feelings that you care, that you thought of the person while buying the gift
Diwali, the festival of lights, has become synonymous with gifting nowadays. It means, it's time to start making your festival gift lists. While finding the perfect gift for your near and dear ones is always a challenge, handling gift-giving at the workplace is an art. Do you give your boss a nice present? What's the best way to say thank to one of your colleagues who pulled you out of the mess last time? What about the person on the other side of your cubicle who gave you a year- old fruitcake last year?
Gifting has become such an art that it has taken the form of a profession in the form of 'etiquette and image consultancy' that trains you on the fine art of gifting. Gifting your friends is very different from gifting at the workplace. Here are a few tips to master the art of gifting:
The primary attribute required in gifting is empathy--the ability to think like the other person. Before selecting a gift for any person, ask yourself, "How would you feel on receiving that item as a gift?" If you will like to receive such a gift, go ahead and give it. The trick to good gift giving is to find something that is appropriate, based on taste, likes and dislikes of each person you are intending to give the gift to.
Gifting, to a large extent, depends on the culture of the place and also the culture of the organisation. The gifts that look good in the west may not be taken in good taste in eastern countries like India and China. Gifting wine to a lady, for example, might be misconstrued in a high context culture like India, whereas it may be completely normal in western countries.
The first thing you need to do is check the workplace policy manual. Many companies provide clear guidelines on what is and is not acceptable. Even if your company does have a policy, you should ask others in your office, since employees do not always follow company policy carefully. If it is your first festive season with the company, ask your co-workers how gift giving is handled and what the boss received from employees last year. This will keep you away from being the odd
When it comes to gifting at the workplace, follow the policy of all inclusion. If the number of people at your workplace is too huge and you wish to include only a specific set of people, do not be obvious while excluding people from your gift circle. If you are very close to a couple of people in the office and want to give them gifts, arrange a time for a gift exchange away from work. If, for example, you work closely with as many as 20 colleagues but like only some of them, do not give presents to only those, at least not in the office.
Do not pass the parcel
Diwali gifts at times become like passing the parcel game. Once, one of my friends gifted a set of crystal glasses to me and it was hilarious to know that they were the same set that I had gifted to one of my colleagues. The glasses had travelled all the way, passed through God knows how many hands and come back to me. That set me thinking- Is Diwali just passing the parcel? Since when did gifting lose its sanctity?
Be careful about buying for your boss
Of all arts, gifting your boss
Give something useful
Do not be personal
is the most subtle art. The gift has to be neither too covert nor too inert. It should not seem as if you are trying to win favour. If you are a boss, you can just be upfront and letting your team members know that you do not want to receive holiday gifts. This policy can help keep the playing field level for everyone in the office. If you want to recognise your boss, try writing a nice thank you note or buy a thoughtful item that you know he or she can use. For example, you can buy your boss a book or a souvenir that conveys your respect without being overtly ostentatious. Small token of esteem from bosses to employees are always welcome and Diwali is an occasion all employees look forward to. While gifting, think in a philanthropic manner and buy gifts for your subordinates. You may be giving excellent salaries but nothing can match a well thought of Diwali gift, which is a treasure beyond measure. Employees tend to prefer bonuses and additional time off to a trinket. Appropriate gifts for coworkers include picture frames, personalised business card holders, professional pens, stationery, food baskets or fine chocolates. These choices work for a wide range of people. Stay away from items like scented candles, body lotions or oils, lingerie and silk boxer shorts. Anything you can also give your significant other is not something to give someone in the office.
Donations to charities are great ways to express your gratitude and cheer during Diwali, and charity donations are particularly good gift ideas for bosses. If go this route, make sure you find out what charity your gift recipient supports. You want to make sure it is meaningful to him or her. Working with a charity is another good idea for a group of employees. Instead of exchanging gifts, you and your coworkers could volunteer for a day at an organisation.
Value relationship not the gift
The gift should serve as a catalyst in strengthening the relationship, not a standalone commodity bought to please. It should convey your sentiments to the recipient, the feelings that you care that you thought of the other person while buying the gift. While gifting, do not measure how expensive was the gift you received last year. The best part is, to quote J Krishnamurthy: "To die every yesterday, live everyday as the first day and treat it as a gift of God." Such should be your freshness and innocence while gifting this Diwali. (The writer is a Punjab- based education counsellor with 12 years of experience. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)