Gift Ideas for Co-workers That Will Not Break the Bank

by Molly Thompson, Demand Media
    The right gift doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

    The right gift doesn't have to cost a lot of money.

    In most workplaces you are not expected to purchase gifts for every colleague. This allows you to stretch your limited funds to cover just the people you want to acknowledge, either because they are close friends or to thank them for providing help or support in the preceding year. Including a thoughtful, handwritten note or card with your gifts makes them more meaningful to your co-workers.

    Brighten the Office

    A colorful flowering plant might be well-received, but a discrete inquiry about allergies would be prudent. If your colleague keeps a picture of her family tacked up on her bulletin board, a simple, burnished metal or wood picture frame is an option. Calendars are available in a variety of sizes and styes and are useful, low-cost gift items, as are coffee mugs. A simple, engraved name plate might be appropriate for a recently promoted co-worker, who might also appreciate business cards with her new title. A co-worker who enjoys cooking might like a new specialty cookbook or a fun evening cooking class to be enjoyed with friends.

    Tasteful Choices

    Specialty food items or gourmet coffees provide affordable options for office gift-giving. Food gifts are available at a wide range of prices and can be tailored to the recipient's likes. A combination of cheese, sausage and crackers might work for the male colleague who loves to snack while watching weekend football games. For a health-conscious colleague, a decorative bowl or basket filled with a variety of fresh fruit is a possibility. Chocolates or other candy treats will be a welcome gift for someone with a perpetual sweet tooth.

    Gift Certificates

    To thank a co-worker for helping you with a special project, providing extra support or helping you get oriented in a new job, consider a gift certificate. If you know the person well, get a gift card from a restaurant or sporting goods store he likes, or a certificate for supplies or equipment for a favorite hobby. For someone with whom you don't have a personal relationship, consider a mall gift card or a certificate that can be used at a major book store or home improvement store chain.

    Homemade Gifts

    Opinion is divided on the subject of homemade gifts. In a very formal office setting, they may not be appropriate or well-received. In a more casual environment or with a close-knit group of co-workers, certain homemade items might be welcome. If you have a reputation as a great cook, co-workers might look forward to receiving your homemade salsa or signature party dip. Holiday cookies or jars containing layered ingredients for a tasty soup are options for busy co-workers. The jars may be decorated with fabric or using paint pens, and you may include copies of the recipe. Avoid personal items, such as artwork or hand-crafted jewelry. Handmade clothing is also a poor gift choice.

    About the Author

    Molly Thompson has been writing for classified U.S. government presentations and publications since 1980. She holds B.A. degrees in psychology and political science from Wellesley College, as well as an M.A. in Russian area studies from Georgetown University. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis/research company and is also a professional genealogist.

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