What to get the boss?
One of the trickier decisions is whether to give gifts to bosses. There are often corporate policies, and co-workers could see giving an individual gift to a boss as brown-nosing.
"You have to be really careful," Thomas says. She recommends the group gift where everybody pitches in $5 or $10. A group leader can be in charge of finding an item for about $350 that is not a burden for everyone, but it's important to not make the donation obligatory.
"You have to be very mindful of this economy," Thomas says. "There are a lot of people struggling right now."
When it comes to gift-giving among co-workers, the Secret Santa, in which employees pick names randomly to give one gift to a person at a set price range, still proves very popular in the office setting. This way, no one feels left out.
Tadd Schwartz, founder of the public relations agency Schwartz Media Strategies in Miami, says he holds a get-together outside the office where the Secret Santa gifts are exchanged. It's always a morale booster, he says.
"Our annual Secret Santa exercise encourages employees to step out of their comfort zone and into their co-workers' shoes," Schwartz says. "It's also a good way to keep personal costs down, since everyone is expected to buy only one gift within a reasonable price range."