Expecting the boss to boost morale with a holiday gift is the last thing on the minds of most. In a poll by American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, only 29 percent of businesses surveyed in October, said they planned to give employees gifts. That’s down from 46 percent back in August.

Instead of concentrating on what you’ll get from the corner office, and worrying about what you’ll give. Here are some low-cost suggestions that go a long way toward securing workplace relationships. These days, it truly is the thought that counts.

1. Be creative. Think about what you are really good at – and love doing. My colleague can’t cook for beans, but she makes a mean chocolate chip cookie.  Knitting scarfs for your entire office is too time consuming, but creating a bunch of small holiday ornaments with special messages attached, is a thoughtful way to acknowledge your colleagues.

2. Offer your skills as a gift. If you’ve got computer skills,  an hour of your time to work on someone else’s Facebook, LinkedIn account or website goes a long way for technophobes. This is invaluable to those who are not computer wizards. I just did a brochure for a family member.

3. The gift of time. Suggest dinner and a movie with a group of people. This in place of spending on individual gifts will save you cash in the long run, and also fuel a camaraderie beyond the workplace. This might not be appropriate for all circumstances, but if you keep the conversation light – you can manage it.

4. Low-cost gift cards. You don’t have to spend a fortune on these. But it takes a little thought. If you know someone shops on Amazon.com for their books, likes to download from iTunes, or is addicted to Starbucks – a $10 gift card is perfect. They shop there anyway, and this small gesture can make someone’s vice a little easier to handle over the holidays.

5. Serenity at work. Take a gander at the Internet. You can find shoe inserts which hit key pressure points on the feet to reduce stress. And check out essential oils like lavender or sage which can provide a quick aromatherapy break at work. If your colleague likes music – pick up a meditation CD or perhaps an exercise DVD.

November 19, 7:29 PM
by Judy Martin, New York Work Life Examiner