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How To Make Christmas Gifts For Your Co-Workers Feel Less Impersonal

Christmas is just around the corner. For some, that may stir up warm and fuzzy feelings of home, nostalgia and, of course, endless food festivities. For others, gift-buying panic may have already started to set in, especially when buying for colleagues.
Whether it's the office Secret Santa or buying a gift for a manager who's given you an extra leg up this year, it's often difficult to get something truly meaningful, useful and of course, personal for a colleague. And considering that plenty of us have spent this year either working from home or with reduced hours and face-time in person, it can feel like we haven't had an ample opportunity to really get to know our co-workers.
At the end of the day, a gift is meant to be a gesture; a symbol that you appreciate someone — even if all you've shared with them this year is Slack banter. It's supposed to be about showing someone that you've put a little thought into something that'll make their life a little bit better and brighter.
While that can make the prospect of buying seem even scarier, there are some easy ways to make colleague gift-giving less impersonal.

Snoop Their Socials

It's 2021, people — we're all constructing our identities online (whether or not we like to admit it). Taking a peek at someone's socials is one of the most surefire ways of getting some insight into what their interests and hobbies are. If someone's entire feed is full of aesthetic cafe pics, a voucher for a cool new bar or dining group is a great shout. If it's full of beach snaps — a towel or a tote bag is a shoo-in.
I had a colleague admit to me that they did this with a Secret Santa gift recently. They told me that after taking a look at my Instagram, they'd decided my secret Santa gift was either going to be a bucket hat or a side bag — I was honestly pleased by both the fact they had admitted it and bought an adorable side bag for me (and that my Instagram gave off a strong enough personal identity).

Get Something That Aligns With Their Values

Generic gifts can be great — think a gorgeous candle, a fancy serving plate, a nice bottle of wine — they're all things that people will find use for at one point or another. But to take this approach a step further, buying something that aligns with someone's values will add a little more meaning.
This could be a product that's sourced locally from the place they grew up, ensuring the product has been made ethically, or even buying something where the proceeds will go to charity. For example, every purchase from The Body Shop this Christmas will support the Little Dreamers Young Carer Advocacy Project (YCAP). They'll also be donating 100% of proceeds from their gift tags to Amnesty International to support their Raise The Age campaign. Their products are also cruelty-free, with a range of vegan gifts packaged with recycled materials, which could also further align with a co-workers values. While soaps and shower gels are crowd-pleasing gifts (seriously, who could argue with that), choosing something that has a deeper meaning is bound to win you some extra brownie points.

Ask Colleagues That Are Closer To Them

This seems like the most obvious step — but one that not everyone makes the most of. There's no shame in asking a closer colleague (or work bestie, as long as they're able to keep a secret) what it is someone might want or be vaguely interested in receiving.
Understandably, this will depend on how close you are with your colleagues so you can determine how you approach asking the question — or who you ask. My personal tip (again, this depends on where you work) would be to ask your workplace's office manager. They're usually the holders of all knowledge, and get to interact with the majority of employees on a semi-regular basis — they're bound to have some information that will be useful for your giftee.

Attach A Handwritten Card

Hand-writing a card has the potential to turn a generic gift into something much more meaningful. Considering that one of the most important elements of gift-giving is putting visible time and thought into something, writing a message that expresses your gratitude and good wishes for someone will do just that.
If you're really stuck on what to write, there are gift-writing guides all over the internet that can help you formulate a message that's both personal and well-written.

Buy Something That Leads To Self Reflection

When all else fails — you've done the socials check, you've asked their work bestie, you've written the card — purchasing something that leads to self-reflection can add a meaningful touch to a gift. Items like mindfulness journals, family recipe books that need to be filled out, photo albums or even a disposable camera are failsafe options when it comes to giving a gift with an extra touch of meaning.
Not all of us are blessed with the talent of remembering a passing comment from months ago and turning it into a heartfelt gift. But there are still ways to make gift-giving a little more satisfying and selfless — and spread the love and share the joy after a tough few years.

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