Etiquette Questions, Answered: Holidays and Gifts
Q: The administrative assistant in our office always organizes an effort to get everyone in our department to contribute to a Christmas gift for our boss. I love our administrative assistant, and understand that with everyone being budget-minded these days, a $5 contribution from 20 people gets a nicer gift. But I would rather get our boss something on my own, and plus, the choice of gift the last couple of years has been a little lame. What do I do?
A: While I sympathize with you wanting to get your boss a gift you feel good about, the last thing you want to do is look like a brownnoser, or like you’re too good for the group-gift effort. So if your main complaint is that you haven’t liked the previous gifts that have been purchased, why not take a more active role in choosing the gift? You could preemptively thank the administrative assistant for always being so on top of this, while offering to take the burden off her shoulders this year by choosing the gift yourself. Or, better yet, have a list of possible gifts at the ready. Because while straying from the group will certainly allow you to buy your own, possibly nicer present, in the process, you might wind up making the rest of the office look lame or less generous, which I'm guessing is not your intention. Whereas, if you attempt to work within the group-gift system, you'll win points by improving the gift choice, and you won't just appear to be more of a team-player, you’ll actually be one.