Category Archives: Holiday Etiquette

The Handwritten Note of Gratitude

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As I write this article, we have just celebrated one of our favorite and most meaningful holidays. Thanksgiving is in the rear-view mirror, but surely we maintain the attitude of gratitude from that day. Even in this difficult time of Covid, we have much to be thankful for. As we approach Christmas, Hannukah and Kwanza, we look forward to sharing meals, parties and gifts with our friends, families and coworkers.

Now is the time to consider how and when you will express your thanks to those who have brought joy to your life. Maybe it was something special that you received during the year—a gift, a favor, a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear or an encouraging word when you needed it most. Let those people who matter to you know how much you appreciate them.

How do you do this? By a simple act. You send them a handwritten note with words that come from your heart. Not surprisingly this is challenging for many of us. As a result, we don’t do it or we put it off for an embarrassingly long time.

Let me suggest a few things that will help you write those notes.

  1. Start with a list of those whom you want to thank.
  2. Keep your list close by so it stays not only on your desk but on your mind.
  3. Purchase your stationery, either fold over notes or correspondence cards.
  4. Buy several pens that write easily.
  5. You’ll need to have stamps at the ready.
  6. Keep all your supplies where they are easily accessible.
  7. Set aside a time every day to write a few notes.
  8. Then do it.

Thank you notes need not be lengthy. A few sentences are enough if you are feeling challenged.

  • Mention specifically what you are grateful for.
  • If you have received a gift, say what you will do with it.
  • If someone has been kind or thoughtful, let them know what their kindness meant to you.
  • Perhaps look to the future as you close. Mention how you want to connect with or stay in touch with that person.
  • Select a closing that you are comfortable with. It could be “Gratefully”, “With sincere gratitude” or even “Thank you again”.
  • Sign your name and you’re done.

I want to leave you with a quote from my dear friend and colleague, Elizabeth Herbert Cottrell, whose book HEARTSPOKEN: How to Write Notes that Connect, Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire is soon to be published.

“Some say the handwritten note is a dying art, yet in both professional and personal life, it is still one of the most powerful tools we have for connecting meaningfully with others. A well-written note can give voice to the stirrings of your most heartfelt sentiments and can be read, saved, and treasured forever.”

Thanksgiving Guest Etiquette

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This week as we celebrate that fun-filled food-filled holiday Thanksgiving, I’d like to share a guest post from my friend, colleague, and etiquette expert, Karen Hickman. I hope you enjoy her words of wisdom on how to conduct yourself when you are a guest at a Thanksgiving dinner. I couldn’t have said better so thank you to Karen Hickman.

Thanksgiving starts off with the holiday gatherings in earnest. It’s the time we eat drink and make merry and share good times with family and friends. It is also the time we gather at the dining room table for special meals. So if you have been invited for dinner at someone else’s house, there are some things to keep in mind so you can be the perfect guest. So, here’s some guest Thanksgiving etiquette.

Arrive on time.

Showing up late and keeping everyone waiting or causing the turkey to dry out
doesn’t win any points with your hostess.

Don’t come empty-handed.

Even if your hostess has the meal all taken care of be sure you bring some sort of hostess gift. This is a good time to bring wine or a gourmet food item that the host can use at another time.

If you are assigned a dish, be sure you bring what you signed up for. Make sure it is ready to go in the oven or be served. This can eliminate needless confusion in the kitchen.

Sit where you are assigned.

If place cards are on the table don’t move them around to sit by someone of your choice.

Bring your best manners to the table.

If need be, brush up on your dining etiquette.

Don’t bring your technology to the table!

Bringing your phone to the table is saying that the people you are with aren’t as important as what’s coming through on your phone. Be in the moment!

Make sure your children are supervised and polite.

Holiday time is a good time to review or teach some good manners to your children, especially table manners.

Try a little of everything served.

You may find out that you like that oyster dressing.

Offer to help with the dishes.

Some hosts and hostesses want help cleaning up and some don’t, but it’s important to offer.

Send a thank you

A handwritten note or make a thank-you call to your host and hostess. A lot goes into planning and hosting a big holiday meal. Make sure you acknowledge that.

Most of all…

Be sure and bring your good humor and be tolerant of those who may make you a little crazy at other times of the year. Be of good cheer.

Happy Thanksgiving!

About Karen

Since 1999, Karen Hickman has developed and offered seminars that include: Basic Business Etiquette, Dining Skills, and Succeeding Internationally, to name a few. With a nursing background, she has designed training programs specifically for the medical/dental office and hospital practices called “Professional Courtesy Essentials in Healthcare.”

Recognized nationally for her speaking, training and writing for business and medical publications, she was also a major contributor to the publication, Dishing Up Smiles, for the Alliance of the American Dental Association. Karen wrote a Q&A column for the Fort Wayne News Sentinel called “Contemporary Courtesies” for over 7 years.

Professionalcourtesyllc.com

Airplane Etiquette: Flying the Not-So-Friendly Skies

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You may remember a time when plane travel was something you enjoyed. Airplane etiquette prevailed. People dressed appropriately. Passengers didn’t bite, claw and scratch their way through lines. Seats were spacious and comfortable. Flight attendants were friendly. Airlines served real food. There were skycaps to help you with your luggage, which arrived at your destination when you did.

The “good ole days” are long gone. Flying has become an ordeal. We worry if our flight will be on time, if we will make our connections, if we will ever see our luggage again, if our flight will be canceled or worse yet we worry that there will be one of those out-of-control unruly passengers on our flight.

About 4.2 million travelers are expected to fly during this holiday season. The majority will happily be looking forward to spending the holidays with family and friends. Sadly, a few of them will be in something akin to combat mode. You can’t control what others do, but you can control your own behavior. Let me suggest ten rules of flying etiquette that, when observed by all, could transform the travel experience.

Pack your patience and good manners. If things go awry, be ready to take it in stride.

Don’t hog the overhead bin. Although you are allowed one carry-on plus a handbag or laptop bag, you should only put one of those in the overhead.

Middle seat gets the armrest. That seems fair since the people on either side can lean right or left for more room.

Be considerate when reclining your seat. Notice if the person behind you is using the tray table and alert them that you plan to recline so neither their laptop nor snack ends up in their lap.

Resist the urge to chat. Everyone should acknowledge their seatmates with a smile and a greeting. Once you do, you’re done. Let your seatmate fly in peace.

Don’t be a jack-in-the-box. That’s the passenger who hops up and down during the flight, crawling over everyone in their path.

Control your kids. Noisy, whiny, loud children ruin the flight for everyone except the parents—or so it seems. Anyone who has ever had the child behind them kick their seat understands the urge to kill.

Move as quickly as you can through the security line. Be prepared to remove your shoes, take out your laptop and toiletries and shed your jacket or sweater. Don’t wait until the last minute when you place your carry-on bag on the conveyor belt.

Be considerate of people with close connections when the flight has landed. How often have you heard a flight attendant on a late-arriving flight request that people with time to spare remain in their seats and let others with close connections disembark first? Few people honor that request.

Wear your mask as required. We are still in the midst of a pandemic. The airlines did not come up with the rule so don’t take out your frustration on the flight attendants.

Good manners won’t make planes any less crowded, seats any more comfortable or security checks any less stressful; but they can help you and your fellow passengers arrive at your destinations in a much better frame of mind—ready to enjoy the holidays.

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The Holiday Card – A Victim of Procrastination

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Do you tend to leave things until the last minute? Sadly, most of us do. There is always more time, right? One of the victims of procrastination is the holiday card. It is almost September, and I am already talking about the holidays. It’s not too early, believe me.

In your business and your personal life, if you wait too long to start the process—like after Thanksgiving—sending your cards may become more of a chore than a pleasure. If you delay, your clients and colleagues may already have left the office for the holidays and your friends may be too swamped at that point to notice your thoughtfulness.

Here are some tips to ease the chore and to make your best impression:

  1. Purchase a quality card. It is not necessary to spend a fortune, but good quality says you value your clients, colleagues and friends enough to “send the very best.”
  2. Order your cards while there is time to have your name or the company printed on them. You want them to have a professional look.
  3. Send your greetings early. Have them in the mail the first week in December if you want them to be noticed and appreciated.
  4. Plan to sign your name and write a brief message. The holiday card that comes without a personal signature and a note seems more obligatory than celebratory. It does not matter that your name is already printed on the card. Give it that handwritten touch.
  5. Address the envelopes by hand. While it is easier and faster to print address labels, you lose the personal touch.  Consider hiring someone to do this if you do not have the time to do it yourself.
  6. Use titles when addressing your cards. The envelope should be addressed to “Mr. John Smith” not “John Smith” or “Ms. Mary Brown” not “Mary Brown.” By the way, “Ms.” is the correct title to use in business.
  7. Invest in holiday stamps and avoid the postage meter.  That is just one more personal touch—and a festive one at that.
  8. Email greeting cards may be tempting because they require less time and trouble. It is not totally in bad taste these days to e-mail your holiday wishes, but it is impersonal and not the most impressive way to do it.  Your clever electronic message with singing Santas and dancing trees is a fleeting greeting.  The recipient will click on the URL, download the card, open it, read it, smile, close it, and, in all probability, hit “delete”. Chances are good that your physical card will have a longer lifespan.  Most people save greeting cards throughout the holiday season, and many display them around their office or home.
  9. One final tip: Address your envelopes as soon as you receive your cards. Once you get that step out of the way, you can sit back and relax while you write your personal message on each greeting card.

The New Year is Thank You Note Season

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Now that the holidays are almost over, and we find ourselves in the new year, it’s time to start sending out thank you notes for the thoughtful gifts and tasty treats you received during the season. Yes, I know, those are not the words you want to hear—especially since you know that I am talking about those handwritten notes that I continue to harp on. It would be so much easier and more convenient to text or email your gratitude. A few clicks of the keyboard, and you’re done.

However, when it comes to delighting those special gift-givers with the perfect sentiment at the perfect time, here are two things to consider:

  • Ink trumps email. Why? Ink implies effort.
  • Handwritten notes connect people in a way that simply isn’t possible via text or email. How? Your unique handwriting makes your message and therefore your relationship more personal.

Now that you understand the power of the handwritten note, what’s holding you back?

  • Is it the time? We all have the same number of hours and days.
  • Are you too busy? Everybody feels life is too demanding.
  • Do you lack the supplies you need? If you haven’t heeded my earlier advice and purchased appropriate cards or notes before the holiday rush, those items are still available. They do not sell out during the holidays.
  • Did you forget to buy stamps?  If so, no problem. The rush is over at the post office so pick up stamps while you’re out shopping for your stationary. Then write a note to self on your calendar for next fall that reminds you to buy your correspondence cards or notes and stamps early.

Finally, the greatest obstacle for most people is knowing what to say and how to say it? Those two things should be the least of your worries if you establish a process for writing your thank you notes and follow these steps:

Step 1. Decide how to address the recipient. Do you need to formal salutation or one that is casual? Are you going to call the person by first name or use their title and last name?

Step 2. Begin with “Thank you”. There’s no need to attempt anything more exotic than those two words.

Step 3. Name the gift specifically. Saying “Thank you for the gift’ is cold, off-putting and will make your recipients wonder if you value their gift or even know what it was. You might as well say, “Thank you for the thing.”

Step 4. Say something about the gift. What made it special? How will you use it? If someone sent your food items, tell them how much you either enjoyed the treats or how much you are looking forward to having them. Even if you are not thrilled with what you received, the giver need not know.

Step 5. Say how much you appreciate the thoughtfulness. This is really simple and always sincere. Who doesn’t appreciate being thought of?

Step 6. Choose your closing. Again…are you being formal or casual in your approach? Your salutation will determine your closing.

Think of your thank you note as a sandwich.

The opening and closing are the like the two slices of bread. Your thank you for the specific gift is the lettuce; the sentence about why you like the gift or how you will use it is the meat; the statement saying you appreciate their thinking of you is the cheese. Now wrap that in an envelope; garnish it with a stamp; and you have it. Just don’t forget to drop your handwritten thank you notes in the mail.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Flying Etiquette for the Holiday Traveler

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Perhaps you remember a time when traveling by plane was something you looked forward to. Flying etiquette prevailed. People dressed in their “Sunday best”. Passengers didn’t bite, claw and scratch their way through lines. Seats were spacious and comfortable. You chose a window or aisle seat based on whether or not you wanted to check the landscape below, not in order to gain a few extra inches of leg room. Flight attendants were friendly. Airlines served real food. There were sky caps to help you with your luggage, which managed to arrive at your destination when you did.

I could continue reminiscing about the “good ole days”, but they are long gone. Flying today is an ordeal which most people dread. When I fly, I worry if my flight will be on time, if I will make my connections, if my luggage and I will arrive at the same time and place, if my seatmate will be an oversized person who  should have purchased two seats, or if I will get stuck on the tarmac for hours on end without food or water.

Over the next two weeks more than seven million people will be flying the not-so-friendly skies. There will be the usual mix of business and leisure travelers—most of whom will be in something akin to combat mode. You can’t control what others do, but you can manage your own behavior. Let me suggest nine rules of flying etiquette that, when observed by all, could transform the travel experience.

Don’t hog the overhead bin. Although you are allowed one carry-on plus a handbag or laptop bag, you should only put one of those in the overhead.

Middle seat gets the armrest. That seems fair since the people on either side can lean right or left for more room.

Be considerate when reclining your seat. Notice if the person behind you is using the tray table and alert them that you plan to recline so neither their laptop nor their snack ends up in their lap.

Resist the urge to chat. Everyone should acknowledge seatmates with a smile and a greeting. Once you do, you’re done. Leave your seatmate to fly in peace.

Try not to be a jack-in-the-box. That’s the passenger who hops up and down repeatedly during the flight and crawls over everyone in his path.

Control your kids. Noisy, whiny, loud children ruin the flight for everyone except the parents—or so it seems. Anyone who has ever had the child behind them kick their seat understands the urge to kill.

Leave smelly food in the airport. Seatmates’ noxious food is one of the top peeves of air travelers.

Move as quickly as you can through the security line. Be prepared to remove your shoes, take out your laptop and toiletries and shed your jacket or sweater. Don’t wait until it’s time to place your carry-on luggage on the conveyor belt.

Be considerate of people with close connections when the flight has landed. How often have you heard a flight attendant on a late-arriving flight request that people with time to spare remain in their seats and let others in danger of missing their connection disembark first? Few people honor that request.

Good manners won’t make planes any less crowded, seats any more comfortable or security checks any less stressful; but they can help you and your fellow passengers arrive at your destination in a much better frame of mind—ready to go to work or enjoy the holidays.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author.  Visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations, workshops and resources can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Your Holiday Tipping Guide

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The holiday season is a time when we focus on showing gratitude to those who make our lives easier all year long. Think of holiday tipping as holiday thanking. There are a number of ways to show your thankfulness; but for those who make their living in the service industry, the most appreciated is by tipping.

Along with the challenges of what to give your family and friends add the question of whom to tip and how much. When is it appropriate to give money and when should you opt for a gift rather than cash? Simply put, what are the rules of tipping? For that, you need a holiday tipping guide.

Start by making a list of the people to whom you want to express your gratitude. Then follow these guidelines:

  • Consider your budget and know how much you can afford to set aside for tips.
  • Tip according to the quality and frequency of the service rendered.
  • Take into account length of service – the number of years you have used a person’s services.
  • Present cash in a holiday card with a short handwritten note of thanks.
  • Give your tip in person whenever possible.
  • Tip within the week of the holiday or before.
  • Do it joyously.

Now that we’ve established the process, let’s consider who and how much.

The following suggestions should eliminate some of the confusion and stress associated with holiday tipping. But remember that there are no hard and fast rules. Tipping varies based on the type of establishment, regional customs, and your own budget

  • Housekeeper – Depending on frequency of service: one day or one week’s pay.
  • Gardner – $20-$50 or an amount equal to their monthly pay.
  • USPS mail carrier – cash gifts are not acceptable so give a small gift not to exceed $20 in value. Food is always good.
  • Delivery drivers – again cash gifts are not always acceptable so think about giving food items. Maybe something to munch on during deliveries.
  • Newspaper carrier – daily $25; weekend $10
  • Teachers, tutors, coaches and trainers for your children – small gift from your child. Cash is usually forbidden by school systems since it can appear to curry favor for your child.
  • Baby sitter – an amount equal to pay for a usual visit. Add a small gift from your child.
  • Full-time nanny – one week’s or one month’s pay and a small gift from your child.
  • Dog groomer – one half the cost of a session.
  • Dog walker or sitter – one day to one week’s pay depending on how often you employ them.
  • Nail technician- a sum equivalent to one visit.
  • Hairdresser – an amount equal to the fee for a typical visit

These are simply guidelines, and certainly not a complete list. The decision is up to you—whom you wish to tip, what you want to give and how much you can afford. Good judgment and an attitude of gratitude should be your guide.

If you would like the complete guide to holiday etiquette, order a copy of my e-book, Business Etiquette for the Holidays. It’s available as a PDF download or for your Kindle through Amazon.com.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits. You’d be amazed at how kindness and courtesy can affect your bottom line.

 

 

 

 

Check Your Holiday Table Manners

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The holidays have arrived. There is no doubt about it. Signs of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza are everywhere.  In navigating the season, it’s hard to know what to focus on first. Is it planning for the office party, selecting gifts for clients and colleagues, decorating your workplace or sending those holiday cards?

Given that the holidays are all about parties, luncheons and dinners, I suggest as a next step brushing up on your table manners. Nowhere are manners more important than over meals. Table manners prevent us from being sloppy, offensive and boorish. They are part of communicating respect for others. They are not always hard and fast rules; rather they are guidelines to help us in our social and business relationships.

Here are a few reminders of what to do and not do at the holiday dinner and to help you brush up on your table manners:

Do reply to the invitation as soon as you receive it. A quick check of your calendar tells you if you are free or not. It’s not acceptable to wait around to see if a better invitation comes along.

Do what you say you will do. If you accept the invitation, show up. If you decline, you may not attend at the last minute. It’s that simple.

Do let your host know in advance of any food issues. If for cultural or health reasons you have limitations, your host should know ahead of time. However, don’t make this an issue for the person who was kind enough to invite you. He or she need not be responsible for preparing a special meal for you.

Do sit where you find your place card. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t particularly fond of where you are seated. Sit where you are told. Your host had reasons for the seating arrangement.

Do keep all personal belongings off the table. Your purse, even if it is small, does not belong on the table. Other items to keep out of sight are your keys and your cell phone. If you can’t bear to be absent from your phone during the meal, maybe you should have stayed at home.

Do remain seated during the meal. It is rude to act like a jack-in-the-box. If you must excuse yourself, do so between courses. Exceptions are coughing or sneezing fits. By all means, go before you ruin everyone’s meal.

Do wait to begin eating until everyone has been served, and your host has begun to eat. You don’t actually have to wait until the host has started to chew. Just keep in mind that this is not a race to the finish and there are no prizes for first place.

Do pace your eating so that you finish with everyone else. The slow eater is as annoying as the one racing to the finish.

Do make sure that you understand the basics of the place setting. It’s not as difficult as it seems. The basic rule is: Utensils are placed in the order of use; that is, from the outside in. A second rule, with only a few exceptions, is: Forks go to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right. The exception is: The dessert fork and spoon are placed at the top of the place setting.

As always, good manners are most noticed by their absence.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits. Kindness and courtesy can have an impact on your bottom line.

If you want more tips on table manners, order your copy of my Little Book of Table Manners – 85 Tips for Dining for Success.

 

 

 

 

The Handwritten Thank-You Note

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Handwritten Notes

Handwritten notes

Do you want to make a positive professional impression during the holidays?  Do you want to make your clients, customers and colleagues feel special?  Do you want to stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons?  Then try sending a simple handwritten thank-you note to those who thought of you during the season.

Whether you received a gift, were included in a holiday party, were invited to a special meal, or were on the receiving end of an act of kindness, take time to recognize people’s thoughtfulness and generosity.

You may have been given a gift at the office party.  Perhaps a vendor delivered one in person. In both instances, you should have expressed your appreciation at the time. But go the next step and follow up with a handwritten thank-you note.

If the gift came by mail or some other form of delivery, it is even more important that you acknowledge it.  The person who sent it needs to know you received and appreciated it.

If the present came from an organization or a business group, you are not off the hook.  Some people think that when a supplier or vendor sends a gift, it doesn’t require any form of thanks.  Being the customer or client is no excuse for bad manners. 

When you were included in a holiday party or meal, always follow up with a written thank you.

Sending a handwritten thank-you note is not as daunting a task as some people make it out to be if you follow these tips.

  1. Purchase the appropriate stationery before you need it. In business, thank-you notes are traditionally written on message cards (5 x 3 ½) or correspondence cards (6 ¼ x 4 ¼) which are single white or ecru cards with your full name or monogram engraved at the top center. Another option is the fold-over note (5 ¼ x 3 ½). The front page is blank or has a monogram engraved in the center.
  2. Do not send the garden variety cards that have “Thank You” printed on the front if you want to appear polished.
  3. Keep some of your stationery on the top of your desk, as convenient as your phone and computer.  If you put it in a drawer, there is the temptation to “get to it later”.  Have your stamps next to your stationery. This assures that your notes will go out in a timely fashion—like that day or the next.

The format of a business thank-you note mirrors that of a general thank-you note. It’s simple.

  • Begin with a salutation.
  • Mention the gift, occasion or act.
  • Be specific by writing how you feel about it. What makes it special, useful or helpful?
  • Say “thank you”.
  • Compose a sentence that winds it up.
  • Add your closing.

A handwritten thank-you note trumps an email thank you every time. It gives the appearance of extra effort on your part and makes the recipient feel special. So do yourself and the generous person who sent the gift or who entertained you a favor.  Take five extra minutes to show your personal gratitude with a handwritten note. I promise that in today’s world, you’ll be among the few who do and you’ll long be remembered for your thoughtfulness and good manners.


Lydia Ramsey is a  business etiquette expert who believes it’s not about rules–it’s about relationships. She is keynote speaker, trainer and author of several books. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how she can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.

Holiday Gift-Giving in the Office

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Holiday gift-giving in the workplace is a thoughtful way of letting colleagues and clients know that you value the business relationship you share. But gift-giving comes with its risks. When a present is too expensive or is too personal, even the best intentions can backfire. Knowing the answers to the following questions will take the stress out of gift-giving in the office and enhance the joy of the season.  It is, after all, supposed to be a time of good cheer and not one of high anxiety.

  • Should you give a gift to everyone you work with?
  • Do you need to buy a present for your boss?
  • What are appropriate gifts?
  • How much should you be expected to spend?
  • When is the right time to present your gifts?
  • What if you can’t afford the gift exchange?

The first thing you need to do is find out if there is a company policy on holiday gift-giving. If the company doesn’t have one, this could be a good time to establish one or, at the very least, come up with guidelines within your own department.  If you work for a small business, decide with your co-workers how you want to handle this conundrum. And make sure that everyone is on board with the collective decision.

For religious, cultural or financial reasons, some people prefer not to engage in holiday gift-giving at work . Honor those people and make sure you have a process that allows individual to opt-in rather than opt-out. One way to do this is by passing around a sign-up sheet for those who want in. No pressure or judgment should be placed on those who don’t sign up.

Follow a process like “Secret  Santa”, and set a low dollar limit to make it easier for everyone to participate. After all, holiday time can be costly at best. Stay within the limits set. Just because you can afford more, going over the limit will not win you any friends.

Avoid giving inappropriate items such as clothing, fine jewelry or perfume to your co-workers. Save those for family and friends. Gag gifts are also on the banned list. Not everyone thinks the same things are funny so don’t give an item that could be offensive. You’ll have to work with the person you offended long after the holidays.

Appropriate gifts include foods like candy, cookies, jams and jellies, soaps, scented candles, books, and gift cards. One caution about gifts of food—don’t give candy or cookies to the person who is trying to diet.

Plan when you will engage in the holiday gift-giving in your office. You may choose to have an office party in-house or go off-site for a holiday luncheon or an after-hours party. If you want to give a special gift to a close colleague, do it outside the office, not in front of others. And certainly not at the office party.

When it comes to the boss, there is no obligation to give a gift. Sorry, boss. Gifting should flow downward, not upward. Consider this: the boss makes the most money and is the person who should be buying for employees. If everyone feels strongly about giving to the boss, set a dollar limit and collect a minimal amount from each employee. Don’t make an end run by giving the boss a present when everyone else in the office chose not to. That is one sure way to create conflict and ill will with your co-workers.

If a coworker or supervisor gives you an unexpected gift, don’t worry. Proper etiquette states that unexpected gifts do not need to be reciprocated. All that’s required is a friendly “Thank you!”

These rules for holiday gift-giving in the workplace are designed to make the process joyful and stress free. Don’t use them as an excuse to play Scrooge or the office Grinch.

Lydia Ramsey is a  business etiquette expert, professional speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com to find out how she can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits.