Really, You Shouldn't Have: Office-Holiday-Gift No-No's

Giving the right gift can be tricky, and in the workplace, even more so.

“A gift should be about the recipient, not the giver,” said Robyn Spizman, the gift expert at The Giftionary, a free Web site that helps you search for and find the perfect gift.

Spizman said don’t give a gift that is religious, political, personal or intimate in nature. Stay away from humorous gifts as well, she said, because the idea behind the gift can be misconstrued.

She did suggest placing a holiday spin on a simple every-occasion gift concept. Giving flowers does not have to be a romantic gesture, and it won’t break your bank.

“Call a florist and ask for lucky bamboo,” Spizman said. “You will brighten up someone’s desk and look creative, while wishing them good fortune.”

Author and gift consultant Sherri Athay said to avoid anything that needs to be fed or emits a hideous noise or odor. Also, avoid anything used, unless its value has increased with age -- i.e., rare books or collectibles.

And the real trick is to be original, while also keeping it professional.

Regardless of who you’re buying for, it's best not to get predictable things such as the proverbial mug or picture frame,” Whitmore said. “Unless this item has significant meaning, it may very likely get recycled or thrown out. You should also avoid perfume or gift certificates for beauty treatments, which are too personal.”