12 Great Alternatives to the Usual Office Holiday Gifts

In addition to the annual Christmas party, many organizations have a tradition of gift giving.  You may feel pressured to buy something for everyone in your department  - and that is one more thing that you may not want to add to your holiday ‘to do’ list.

One company decided to change that tradition, and figured out an alternative to buying for the 30 plus people in the organization. Some of the employees met and decided to start making gift baskets of consumables, cookies, breads etc., that would not clutter the office all year.  The baskets werea hit, and started a trend.

Still, people felt they had to give a basket to everyone. The next year, the Secret Santa concept was floated – this is where everyone picks a name out of a hat, and buys only that person a gift. The company voted, and everyone agreed to the Secret Santa idea. Even though there was now less stuff, people still tried to outdo each other with the gift they would give. Finally, the company put a $20 cap on the gift value. That is one alternative for your office – and below are 12 more:

  1. As an office, adopt a school, hospital or collect money for the homeless or needy families.  Resource for adopting a school: http://www.wrksolutions.com/AdoptASchool.pdf,
  2. Donate to a charity in the name of a colleague who cares about that issue. For example, Rescue Gifts: http://gifts.rescue.org/
  3. Give reusable items that can be used all year long, like water bottles, mugs , reusable shopping bags or solar rechargers: http://www.pitchengine.com/reuseitcom/reuseitcoms-top-ten-holiday-gifts-that-make-a-big-impact/172024/
  4. Give gifts of recycled, reused and natural materials like www.eco-artware.com
  5. Give fair trade and organic items such as tea, coffee, or chocolate.
  6. Give homemade baked goods, potpourri, or a dried herb wreath: http://www.craftster.org/ and http://www.diynetwork.com/topics/christmas/index.html
  7. Create a special memory by giving activities, a ball game, museum tickets, or another fun activity: http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=was or http://www.skydivinginwashingtondc.com/
  8. Send a card to a soldier overseas or an injured veteran spending the holidays in a military hospital: http://www.amillionthanks.org/   or http://anysoldier.com/
  9. Make a special emergency kit gift basket with a blanket, flashlight, gas can, jumper cables, and flares – do it yourself or go to: http://www.thefirstaidkits.com/safety-gift-ideas/
  10. Give away that great book you enjoyed to someone who shares your taste. Or give the gift of reading to a child in need: http://www.firstbook.org/
  11. If you must shop, buy at a local small business:  http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/1289899487001/why-it-pays-to-buy-local
  12. Look at your suppliers and see what can be changed: http://blog.lohas.com/blog/lohas-trends/american-ingenuity

Not to employers: Don’t forget to still give cash bonuses or other incentives for all the good work over the year!

Also, check out: http://www.buynothingchristmas.org/alternatives/
Happy Holidays!

4 thoughts on “12 Great Alternatives to the Usual Office Holiday Gifts

  1. I was in a Summer Institute in Dialogue class at SFU Harbour Centre in 2007; one of the groups in my class did some of the initial planning and research for the Harvest Food Box. I also researched it personally as an option while I was living in Toronto.On the one hand, I think you’ve got a good point about the mixed signals on the market mechanisms. On the other, there are other objectives the program may be trying to meet, so it may not look perfect from the narrow scope of fiscal sustainability. AFAIK, *no* food box program, including the ones I looked at in Toronto, has yet been able to find a model that is entirely subsidy-free.I believe the goals of the program extend beyond supporting local farmers, going more towards bringing awareness of issues of food security and the experience of eating seasonally to students, as well as awareness of cooking and health. It’s about attempting to alleviate the food desert problem that people in lower-income neighbourhoods have less access to healthy food that may be priced out of their range due to issues arising from, oh, say, access to markets due to low population density. I don’t think either the United Way or FHA will let anyone off the hook for knowing that the cost of their food is being subsidized, and universities being what they are, the people who graduate and leave may very well be willing to pay those costs once they’re out. I think it’s a form of experimentation that definitely has to happen alongside asking Safeway and Save on Foods hard questions about their motives which we also did during the course of my class.It’s perhaps analogous to the way the U-Pass is, viewed from actual demand and supply analysis, actually somewhat of a disastrous transit proposition for the system, but also results in a whole cohort thinking about transit issues in a different light. From my reading, the in Toronto too had a social justice and economic stimulus role as well.Again, I think the dangers you point out are valid. The group doing the research on this project, I believe, were leaning at one point to recommend a model resembling a CSA more so than the food box. I figure, if it’s bound to fail, it’s still more information and experience for the people involved in it, than we had before..-= Karen Fung s last blog .. =-.

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