It’s Friday before Christmas and all through the workplace, not a creature was working, not even the boss.
morgue file - public domain license
But around offices today, many bosses are thinking to themselves "I need to get a gift for my secretary/assistant/staff!".  From an employment law perspective this is yet another minefield waiting to be discovered. 

Here are a few do’s and don’ts (with tongue firmly in cheek) as you pick out those last-minute gifts.

Do:    If your office is in the tradition of giving gifts, do get your assistant a gift, even just a small one to say thanks.  
Don’t: Don’t just write a card saying thanks without a gift.  And if you do get a card, avoid those singing cards; those are just creepy and you’ll end up getting a silly song stuck in your head for the whole day. 

Do: Do consider getting a gift card, instead of a gift.  Mall gift cards (that are generic) are a good, non-offensive approach.  Starbucks (or, if you prefer, Dunkin’ Donuts) may be just your thing too.
Don’t: Don’t get a gift card from a place that sends any type of message, even indirectly.  Victoria’s Secret? So obviously bad that you shouldn’t even have to ask.  Perfume or cologne from Sephora? Not good.  His and her bathrobes? Same.

Do: If you do want to get a gift, make sure it is commensurate with the work performed.  Some books to read, food, or even an iPod shuffle or Nano are winners.  
Don’t: Don’t make the gift too personal, however. Airline tickets for two to a Caribbean Island are probably not a good idea.  Heart shaped boxes of chocolate from Godiva are also not smart.  And don’t get books that give the employee the wrong idea like " The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich"

Do:  Some offices like holiday outings. Lunches, in a good group setting, are a good way to celebrate.
Don’t: Don’t just take an assistant out to dinner alone, particularly at a candle-lit restaurant.  Nothing good can come of that type of approach.  Even if you get a table by the front windows.

And finally, for those staff that are considering getting gifts for their bosses, a recent "Ask Amy" column (readers: don’t ask why I happened to stumble on this) had advice that is dead-on: Don’t give your boss a new pair of pants. 

Clothing of any kind is an inappropriate workplace gift. Nor should this person be suggesting – through gifts or otherwise – that her boss needs to update his wardrobe or dress more professionally. If this man’s wardrobe is somehow inappropriate or unprofessional, then his boss should let him know.

Happy shopping readers!