It can be hard to know how to give a gift to your male coworker.
On the one hand, you want to "make nice" and genuinely show kindness to the fellow employees you like/care about on their birthday, work milestone, or other special event.
On the other hand, you don’t want to do anything that could be misinterpreted or misconstrued. The last thing you want is for people to think that you’re using gifts to work your way up the company/corporate ladder.
Which is what makes choosing gifts for a male co-worker so hard.
Below, we’re going to share with you a list of the best gift ideas for your male co-workers, items they’ll love but that are “safe” enough to give to someone you work with.
As you peruse the list in search of a good gift, remember:
Unless you know the person very well, keep your gifts generic.
Gift sideways and down (coworkers and subordinates), never up (bosses or executives).
Don’t feel obligated to give a coworker a gift; only do it if you want to.
With that in mind, here’s our list of the best gifts for a male coworker:
Here’s a beautifully designed and ultra-portable box cutter. The Palmer is designed to fit comfortably into even small pockets, or you can attach it to your key ring or a lanyard for more convenient carry.
It nestles in the palm of your hand for easier wielding and allows you to extend/retract the blade quickly using just your thumb. The anodized aluminum handle is insanely tough, capable of shrugging off water damage and scuffs.
When the time comes to swap out the blade, you’ll find it’s a no-hassle, tool-free job that takes just a few seconds thanks to the Palmer’s patent-pending mechanism. Best of all, you can swap out the blade for the standard utility blades you can find in any hardware store, so you can travel with the Palmer in your pocket (sans blade) and replace the blade at your destination. Now that’s everyday carry convenience and comfort you can love.
From the authors of the bestselling cocktail book Death & Co comes another mixology essential. Cocktail Codex is a comprehensive resource on the craft of mixing drinks, employing the authors’ unique “root cocktails” approach to give drink-makers of every level the tools to understand, execute, and improvise both classic and original cocktails.
Made of heat resistant glass, the clever, minimalist design of this glass corn popper from Puebco gives you a crystal clear view of the popping process. A slotted glass insert lets your butter melt slowly into the vessel for perfect coverage every time.
Innovative Canadian bag brand Herschel is ready to keep you cool this summer. Their line of soft-sided insulated bags lets you take your pops or picnic wherever you may roam and always arrive chilled. The collection includes coolers, tote bags, and packs, giving you all the options for how you carry your cooler.
With everything you need to create killer spicy sauces, the Chili Lab Homemade Hot Sauce Kit from Williams-Sonoma gives you the essential ingredients and tools needed to make two unique artisanal hot sauces, while urging you to experiment with your signature sauce. Initial prep takes just ten minutes, followed by a 3-day aging process. The kit includes: Forager’s & Grove Blend spice mixes, two 4-ounce reusable glass bottles, a fine mesh strainer, and a stainless steel funnel.
Despite its heavy-duty, single-piece construction, Grovemade’s Task Knife is designed for your desk—so it’s really for opening Amazon packages and snail mail. Certainly looks like it could do much more. Choose from solid brass, stainless or black, each includes a wooden stand to keep the 4.75” knife handy & protected.
Otterbox makes rugged, dependable products and their Elevation 14 Mug will do for your morning coffee what their cases do for your phone: keep it protected from harm and insulated from the elements. Made of stainless steel with an internal copper lining, it features a spill-proof plastic & silicone lid for easy sipping. Available in raw stainless & 4 cool colors.
Designed for visual thinkers, these Grids & Guides notebooks are perfect for sketching, cataloging, plotting, doodling and developing. They feature handy scientific resources—from precise measurements to Pythagoras’s constant to the golden ratio—to aid in the design process or just to spark creative thinking.
Rumpl blankets are great at keeping you comfy and cozy, and their Beer Blanket will do the same thing for your 12-ounce friends. The packable, portable beer coozies come in a variety of cool colors and can also be bought by the sixpack.
Having trouble finding something you think your coworker will like?
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What work events should I bring a gift to?
You don’t want to hand out gifts at official company/group events like holiday parties or office milestones.
Instead, keep your gifts for personal events:
Office baby shower/new baby celebration
Maternity/Paternity leave farewell party
Birthday party (for a coworker you’re very close to)
Should I bring a gift for a coworker to the office?
Unless you interact with that coworker outside of work, the office is likely the only place you’ll be able to give them a gift.
There are some exceptions to this. For example, let’s say you’re going out for drinks after work, or there’s a company party planned off-site at a restaurant. In these cases, you can give your coworker the gift once you’re away from the office.
However, if there’s nothing planned, you’ll have to give the gift at the office. Make sure to check your company’s office gift policy. If there is no official policy, check with your boss or HR just to be safe.
Even if your company’s office gift policy is that gifts at the workplace are welcome, make a point of being discreet in your gift-giving. You’re not doing it to show off, but to show the recipient how much you care. You can do that more effectively in private than making a public spectacle out of it.
Note: Ideally, you should just give gifts to the coworkers you interact with most frequently, or those on your team. Don’t worry about getting everyone at the office a gift (unless it’s a small company with only a few employees).
How much should I spend on a coworker gift?
Again, you’re not giving a gift to show off to your coworkers how thoughtful you are or how much you can afford to spend. Money is a sensitive subject, and gifts can make a lot of people feel bad.
That’s why it’s critical that you give your gifts privately—either outside the office, or someplace no one sees you. Don’t make a show out of it or flaunt your generosity. That’s gift-giving in the worst way!
And keep your gifts reasonable. Try to spend no more than $50 on a gift for your coworker. They have others in their lives to give them gifts; yours is just a nice "bonus".
What gifts should I avoid giving to a coworker?
Gag gifts (unless you and they have that very specific rapport built on humor and pranks)
Gifts of a religious or political nature
Gifts that have anything to do with their physical appearance (clothing, cologne, jewelry, bath products, etc.)
Alcohol (unless you’re 100% certain they are okay with it and will enjoy it)
Should I give a gift to my boss?
Gift-giving to coworkers is already enough of a minefield, and trying to give a gift to your boss or manager will all but guarantee that something goes wrong. Someone will think you’re trying to use the gifts to "get in good" with your boss or bribe your way up the ladder.
Sherri Athay, who authored the book Present Perfect: Unforgettable Gifts for Every Occasion, advises against giving gifts to your boss or manager. Better to steer clear and avoid any misunderstandings or misconceptions.
However, if you really want to give your boss/manager a gift (as a way of thanking them for being so great to work with, or for any special professional consideration/attention/support they may have shown you), something small and personal like baked goods is considered acceptable.
Do I send a thank you gift to a coworker?
If a co-worker gives you a gift, it’s not necessary to reciprocate with a gift back. However, it’s definitely imperative that you send a thank-you card to appreciate the gift—and to show that you’re a well-mannered person who respects the time and money that went into getting you that gift.
If you really want to get them a gift, make sure to do so on the next occasional where it is acceptable to do so, rather than reciprocating immediately. Sending a "thank-you gift" can create obligations where neither of you wants any.
Should I give a gift to a client?
Business gifts can be a great way to keep your company in the minds (and hearts) of your best clients, vendors, and suppliers. They can actually help to establish stronger ties and improve on your relationship.
The great thing about client gifts is that they’re welcome any time of the year, and there’s no need for any excuse of an occasion. However, it’s always a great idea to send gifts when your clients, suppliers, or vendors celebrate important milestones (the company’s anniversary), or on the client/boss/CEO’s birthday.
Gifts aren’t going to be the best solution to build a relationship with clients and vendors, but it can improve on an existing relationship. Make sure your gifts are relevant and appropriate to the person receiving the gift and show how much you value them, specifically.