By Theresa Nolan

The holiday season at work is tricky. Add the pressure of buying gifts for coworkers and things can get especially tricky. It’s not always clear what may or may not be an appropriate gift to exchange in the office, especially when it comes to your boss.ribbons

At PCG, we have opted for a fun alternative—a Secret Santa-type exchange that we have dubbed Secret Snowflake. I love this idea and it’s something that I do every year with my family. It’s perfect for an office setting because it takes the pressure off, levels the playing field, and it’s just plain fun! Plus, it gives people the opportunity to get to know someone they might not normally interact with.

If your office isn’t doing something like the Secret Snowflake, you may be wondering what an appropriate gift would be for your boss. Here are a few tips on how to decide:

Know your office environment. This is crucial when shopping for your boss. Take the dress code as an indicator. If your dress code is professional, you may want to choose a business-centered and useful gift. Think a calendar, a fun paperweight, stylish letter opener, etc. Our Content Manager, Lisa, bought these personalized business-card holders for a few people around the office—a simple, useful, and thoughtful gift for a professional setting!

If your office environment is more laid-back, adding a little bit of humor to your gift is always a plus in my book. Think of something that will make your boss giggle or smile! The “World’s Best Boss” mug is an obvious choice, especially if your boss likes The Office! I also love these Corporate Flashcards, which make light of office lingo.

Know your boss. You spend 40 hours a week in the office with him or her, so you have no excuse. Do they like sports? Are they into fitness or hiking? Do they have a family? Maybe they’re really into cooking, or they love Bruce Springsteen. Even if your boss is quiet and shy you probably know at least one thing about them. Capitalize on it.

Know your limit. Naturally, you want to get your boss something they’re going to love because you want them to love you, duh. Don’t go too crazy though. You don’t want to look like a brown nose, and you don’t want to make coworkers look bad. Unless money is not an object, it’s probably a good idea to set a dollar amount limit. Know what you are comfortable spending on your boss. Any gift will be appreciated, even if it’s a $5 gift card to their favorite coffee shop.

If all else fails, food! Everyone loves cookies. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who doesn’t like cookies. cookiesThe miracle that is slice-and-bake and break-and-bake cookies have made it simple for baking-challenged folks to make delicious treats. It’s all about the presentation. Put it on a plate or in a basket with some holiday candy, give it to your boss with a card, and voila!

The holidays can be extremely stressful. Don’t stress out! If you’re still unsure, go with something simple like a gift card and attach a nice note. People would much rather hear the nice things you have to say about them than receive something useless that they’ll totally forget about. Happy shopping, and happy holidays!