Salute to Spouses Blog

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White elephant gifts in the office, a helpful guide to not losing your job at the office Christmas party

I know, I know. You desperately want to give the Donald Trump shaped troll doll (complete with giant, fuzzy, yellow hair!) to the lone Republican in your office during the Secret Santa gift exchange. It would be hi-lar-ious, you tell yourself as your plop it into your Amazon cart.

It’s not. Don’t do it. Back away from the keyboard. Quickly.

The office Christmas party and gift exchange/ white elephant game, can be a hoot. It can also be the fastest way to win a one-way ticket to the HR office.

Let’s make a short checklist, shall we?

Do you work at:

  • Rolling Stone
  • A newly minted, legal marijuana exchange
  • The Saturday Night Live studios

If you checked yes, you are probably safe to give just about anything you find funny. Chances are your co-workers will too.

Did you mark no? Carry this list with you in your wallet when you do your shopping. 

For the office gift exchange I will NOT buy anything that has to do with:

  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Sex

See, simple, right? Now, depending on where you work, alcohol-related paraphernalia may need to be thrown on there as a safe bet too.

So what is left, you ask? Are we all doomed to lame, scented candles and bags of crumbling homemade cookies that our co-workers’ children made while fighting off this season’s latest cold?

No, there are creative and funny gifts that can win you points even with the guy that keeps accusing you of stealing his crusty, leftover meatloaf from the office fridge.

  • Cool office gadgets – USB cables shaped like animals and various characters are all the rage and they are inexpensive. Paperweights, magnets, even trash cans and funky pencil holders can be fun, functional and appreciated. Win, win
  • Food – good food. Not stuff you make at home, unless your sausage balls are all the rage at the office parties and people are throwing down to get to them. Then go with the sausage balls. Otherwise, buy a few pieces of expensive chocolate at the best shop in town or some other delectable treat. One piece of chocolate that they would never buy themselves is a delight to open when the guy next to you is looking down at a daily cat-a-day photo calendar.
  • Gift cards – you simply can’t go wrong. Book stores, dessert stores, even $10 to a restaurant is much appreciated.
  • Socks – Let’s be clear. Cool socks, not the aloe infused fuzzy socks they pull out of storage at big box stores every holiday season for people to blindly throw into grandma’s stocking. Rather, socks with a nifty design or picture on them, i.e. flamingos, bananas, or their favorite cartoon character. Slightly goofy and funny but still relatively safe.
  • Include a hand-written note. Did you pull a name in the drawing of someone you truly appreciate having as a co-worker? Tell them. Include a short, sincere hand-written note with your $10 treasure to tell them just how much you value both them and their work in the office. It will make their day.
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