Your co-workers can be the hardest people to shop for during the holidays, or -- if you just have a little fun with it -- their presents can become the easiest gifts to cross off your list.
For the co-workers whom you either spend the least amount of time with or aren't as close to, a simple gift card can cover the bases. Even a card for as low as $5 to Starbucks, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or any other cafe can go a long way; it is easily tucked into any wallet and will feel like a nice little surprise the next time they purchase tea and remember it's your treat. For a co-worker who drives a long way to work, a gas gift card is another practical yet thoughtful present to pass out. And the best part about these presents is that if your co-worker hates it, he or she can regift it and pay it forward.
A more personalized yet cost-friendly gift idea is to personalize office supplies, such as pens and pencils. On average, you can find a 12-piece engraved pencil set for roughly $9.99. It may sound simple, but people get excited when they feel important, and because pencils and pens are used often, your gift will be a constant reminder that you took the time to make them feel special and will surely add a smile to their faces. You can find more information at: http://www.personalizationmall.com.
Perhaps you work at a startup or a smaller company where the whole group of employees is really close. You may want to suggest a secret Santa or grab bag situation with a price limit so that everyone can splurge a little more on one bigger present rather than spend the same amount on lots of smaller ones for everybody. This also creates a sense of camaraderie among your co-workers. A secret Santa allows you to focus on the person whose name you picked and start paying attention to what that person likes. You will start to notice more about the person and the photos he has on his desk, the electronics he uses most often and what his favorite pastimes are.
If you decide to try the grab bag approach of gift giving instead, you can reach out to your fellow employees and brainstorm with excitement about what type of gift you should get. There is definitely more risk involved here, but you get to be more spontaneous. Some gifts that tend to work for everyone are fleece blankets (that could even be kept at someone's desk), a personalized T-shirt with a work-related inside joke or funny slogan, a gift card to a popular restaurant and a coffee table photo book -- for example, one with photos of the area. This type of book is not usually something someone would buy for himself yet is a warm and interesting read for guests who visit a home.
Don't forget to take care of the cleaning crew, the mail crew, the security personnel and everyone else who helps keep your office running smoothly behind the scenes. You can collect cash from your co-workers and pool these funds together to give out in cards or envelopes. Another idea -- and this could also be used as a gift idea for your co-workers -- is to bake for each person and wrap your goodies a festive way. (Just make sure you are aware of everyone's allergies.)
When it comes to your boss, don't pull a "Christmas Vacation" -- you know, the classic movie in which the evil boss has an office filled with identical gifts. If your boss loves scotch, sure, go ahead and gift him a nice bottle, but don't stretch beyond your budget. Again, pay attention to what he expresses he likes, and remember that in this and any case, thoughtfulness always leads to a great gift.