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How To Turn Workplace Gift Giving Into A Gift For Yourself

It's not even mid-November, but this year is moving quickly toward its logical conclusion: December.

This means it's time to add new entries to my annual Oh No, It's the Holidays Again! blog series. So far, we've uncovered the unfortunate truth about Secret Santas, sent the potluckphobe to the company holiday potluck, dressed down co-workers who brag about their expensive holiday gifts, discussed how to talk to a co-worker's spouse at the company holiday party, and figured out what happens when a company's holiday gifts don't stay current with the times.

I was planning to blog about the 2015 holiday season "soon," just like I'm procrastinating with my holiday gift shopping. Then I came across an Ad Age article about McCann's new holiday ad campaign for Office Depot, and I suddenly felt inspired to blog about the holidays.

This year, Office Depot is touting its 2015 holiday Co-worker Collection. As the article points outs, it's a departure from Office Depot's 2014 ad campaign, which focused on B2B giving. I say, just buy your clients either the good chocolates or a gift basket, write a thoughtful note in a holiday card, and be done with it.

But what about the co-workers you see every day, including the 30% of co-workers who can't remember your name and the 25% who don't know what you do for a living?** Well, you know them a little bit better. Perhaps you wish you knew less about them courtesy of the office grapevine, and, quite frankly, you're looking for innovative ways to help them help you.

Let's watch the new Office Depot ad to jot down a few ideas, which you would almost certainly do if your co-worker weren't borrowing your pen. Again.

The ad makes some great points, actually. We can become as strategic with our office gift giving as we are with our business strategy!

In other words, how can you turn your co-worker gift giving into a small holiday gift for yourself? Think of each co-worker you plan on buying a small holiday gift for, and ask yourself this question: What does he or she keep borrowing that I'm tired of lending?***

Admire how co-worker gift giving becomes a win-win in light of this simple, somewhat-cynical question! Of course, it's no guarantee that your co-workers will actually stop taking/borrowing/using your things, but personalizing your office gift giving a little bit on the cheap might be worth a try? At the very least, it's far better than lending things to the co-worker who never bothers to return them. Grr.

So forget about the impending business articles that will mention some obscure website for finding the "perfect," trendy, quirky holiday gift for your co-workers this year. This obscure website has told you everything you need to know about co-worker gift giving "trends" this year. In a pinch, you can simply buy a bunch of $5 gift cards from the grocery store and be done with it.

** Hmm. One wonders if these two statistics are in fact the same person?

*** If it's money, then I'm so sorry. You'll have to close The Bank Of You. Maybe you can tell this co-worker that you weren't too big to fail after all?

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