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What to Give Your Favorite People at Work

when the gifts are gone, you've still got your red cape

The clock’s ticking down to figure out what to give everyone this holiday season–and my stress level’s going up.

If you’re in the same boat, here are a few ideas I’ve seen lately that may kick up your gift-Q without deflating your money-Q. They’re all appropriate for the gift-worthy people at work, too.

(Note: Amazon links are affliiate links, which means Amazon credits me a few cents when you click and buy. All other links are  just services I’ve used and think are worth a look.)

What to Give Your Favorite People at Work


1. A Picture Says a Thousand Words
Since your camera is now in the same box of plastic where your phone and email live, you probably have (or can get) flattering photos of a colleague or friend at work or at a social event.

Make those images real by printing them out at your local drugstore or through services like Shutterfly or other apps. Put a great one in a simple frame to add some personalization to their drab taupe workstation.

Or, if you didn’t snap many shots this year, look for what they may have shared in public on Facebook or Instagram.

Chances are they never got around to making a hard copy, and might be pleasantly surprised to get one from you.


2 . Your Time is Always Valuable
One of the best gifts anyone ever gave me at work was the commitment of their time in the year ahead. Knowing how busy this person was, it was a truly valuable gift indeed.

Promises are good, but easy to break, so make it real by buying a gift card to your colleague’s favorite local restaurant, and booking two or three lunches on the new year calendar now. That way you both get out from behind your desk and into the real world!

Are you both job seeking or considering entering the market? How about giving a resume or LinkedIn profile swap, i.e., “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”  Book a couple hours together in your local coffeeshop and the last person to finish a draft buys the next scone.

Or, invite your friend to share a day of volunteering. In my work with clients, I often hear a longing to give back, but people don’t know where to start. If you make the arrangements, you can help your friend do something important and you’ll create a great shared experience, too.


3. Deal the Cards

I’m a big fan of the hand-written note and snail mail delivery. During the holidays, a few words of appreciation and good wishes still mean something.

Of course, you could send an ecard instead. If you’re going to do this, remember that personalization is powerful.

Industry standard Hallmark.com has a great inventory of cards where you can add a photo or personal message, and many are free or at reasonable prices (including an inexpensive subscription to send as many ecards as you like). Another fave is JibJab, whose creations you may know from their political satire. They also have great free and paid video ecards you can create featuring the face of your friend.

Or,  use Animoto to create a short film with your own pictures and text telling someone how much they mean to you. It’s free for 30-second videos you can email; you pay small fees to create longer form videos you can download or post to YouTube (like my video on my bulk book offer here.)

4. Read On

Magazines continue to be valuable ways to keep up on our professions and the business world at large.

This time of year, many magazines have discounted prices so they can show more readers to their advertiser base—in fact, I just renewed [amazon_link id=”B002PXVZ40″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Money[/amazon_link] for $5/year. Check their websites, or even easier, go to Amazon for a broad variety and great pricing (I just renewed [amazon_link id=”B002PXVYGY” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Harvard Business Review [/amazon_link]for $25 less than the magazine offered me directly.)

Want a longer read? Yes, it’s still cool to like books.

One that won’t be out until after Christmas but would make a great New Year’s gift is [amazon_link id=”1594487154″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Dan Pink’s To Sell Is Human[/amazon_link]–his behavioral take on how all of us sell, and how we our old way of selling won’t work for us anymore.

This year, I also loved [amazon_link id=”1400069289″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business by Charles Duhigg[/amazon_link].  See other books I recommended a few months ago here.

Of course, no mention of  books is complete without mine: Bring Your Superpowers to Work: Your Guide to More Clarity, Confidence & Control.  (Sorry for the self-promotion, but it is my blog, after all. Plus, I stand behind its ideas and concepts, and am proud of how my readers have said the book has made an impact at work.)


5. If They’re Worth a Little Bit More
If you’ve got a little more to spend for a person who’s equally important, consider buying them a membership in their This tree needs gifts--Red Cape Revolution styleprofessional trade association (like SHRM for human resource pros or IABC for communication types). Or, you could just cover their fees for a few meetings of your local chapter. Now more than ever, trade associations are filling in the gap of creating professional communities and providing career connections, so belonging is a worthwhile investment.

Or if you’re shopping for a spouse or significant other, maybe they need to get away for a weekend. Alone (yes, without you.) One of my clients said this was the best gift she ever got, allowing her to relax and get her thoughts clear about what she wanted next in her work and life.

And yes, for that person we all know who’s been successful on paper but is feeling stuck and unclear on their next career step, you might give them the gift of working with a coach like me, because clarity is a great way to start the new year.

YOUR TURN: What’s the gift you’d like to get this year? Tell us by posting a comment below. Or join the conversation on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

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