Volume 33, December 2003: On “The Gift”

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

Publisher: © Key Associates, LLC, 2003 ISSN # 1545-8873

“Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.” — Jean Anouilh

“The great art of giving consists in this: the gift should cost very little and yet be greatly coveted, so that it may be the more highly appreciated.” — Baltasar Gracian

“The spirit in which a thing is given determines that in which the debt is acknowledged; it’s the intention, not the face-value of the gift, that’s weighed.” — Seneca

“The only gift is a portion of thyself.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson


  • What’s Hot in Leadership
  • Maintaining Yourself as a Leader
  • Frequently Asked Questions from Leaders
  • Educational Opportunities
  • Useful Websites & Newsletters
  • Articles/Publications

What’s Hot in Leadership

  • Appropriate giving requires reading the culture. Honor its traditions.
  • Regard cannot be bought but can only be given.
  • Gifts are symbols, physical signs of relationships with others – seen not only in objects but in words and acts.
  • Use simple, meaningful symbols and confer them with passion.

Maintaining Yourself as a Leader

For people in a leadership role, this is a season of giving – often to many people. Here is an opportunity to convey your regard with authenticity.

If uncertain, enlist the help of others – like Ben & Jerry’s Joy Gang. Give a gift certificate to a place that has a wide selection.

The gift per se is not the focus, but the spirit in which it is given. Think of ways you can demonstrate appreciation – in writing, speaking, and insight into others’ lives and challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions

“What do you do to avoid getting the shower of unneeded and unwanted gifts?”
Start a new tradition. Tell everyone that what you want is a donation to your charities. They get the write-off and the pleasure of giving the perfect gift. You’ll feel it’s the best present ever.
“I need a shot of creativity in my gift-giving.”
Use intuition, imagination and connection-making:
  • Think of new uses for old things (barb wire wreaths).
  • Shop out of their discipline (an emergency kit).
  • Cut and paste (assemble an entire meal in a basket).
  • Roam an art gallery (art cards with arty stamps to go with).
  • Guided visualization – take a trip through their life and make it easier (babysitting or cleaning help).
  • State an assumption about the person and reverse it (jumper cables for ladies).
  • Open a dictionary and use random words as stimulators.
  • What gifts do gifts need? (Gift wrap, scissors, cards, beads, ornaments, containers).
  • Cross the senses. What looks good and smells good and tastes good? (citrus)
  • Use humor – start laughing and see what ideas come up.
  • Catalogue shop (see links below) for ideas.
  • Before sleeping, set yourself to dream on it.
  • Brainstorm – think of lots of ideas before converging on a few.
  • Lose fear – who cares if it’s appropriate. All ideas are acceptable.
“Holiday ceremonies are a challenge for me. I dread the lifeless office party, the punch and cookies and excess politeness.”
There is one celebration that seems to work well for most people, “Workplace Altruism.” Do something as a group for others. Doing good in the world is a powerful catalyst for collective energy; people can celebrate by exuding kindness to those who need a boost in life.
  • Serenade the residents of a nursing home
  • Make and serve a meal for the homeless together
  • Invite your customers to a party and celebrate them.
  • Volunteer to complete a community project
  • Dream up random acts of kindness, carry them out and create a company photo album of the deeds.

And give people the time off to do it.

The Queen-pin of bringing your values to work in socially-conscious enterprise is Anita Roddick of The Body Shop.


Read Corporate Celebration.

Free custom party planning: Party Supplies.

Wrapping services and paper source: Kate’s Paperie.

Useful Websites & Newsletters

Shop and give to hunger, breast cancer, animal rescue, rainforest, or child health. The Greater Good Store.

Peruse more than 40K booksellers: BookFinder.

Turn a friend’s photo into art: PhotoWow.

Outpost for NYC’s Museum of Modern Art: MOMA Store.

Food items you thought were gone forever: Hometown Favorites.

Gifts for gardeners: GardenWeb.

In case you couldn’t find the toy: eToys.

Basement bargains: Designer Outlet.

Comfy shoes: Happy Feet.

Ideas for the Goodwill/Salvation Army shopper: Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic.

Bargains: Bottom Dollar.

Don’t even have to step out for the gift certificates: Gift Certificates.

Last minute shopping and free shipping: Red Envelope.


  • Autry, James. Life and Work: A Manager’ Search for Meaning. New York: Avon Books, 1995.
  • Collins, James C. & Jerry I. Porras. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. New York: Harper Business, 1994.
  • Deal, Terrence & Key, M. K. Corporate Celebration: Play, Purpose and Profit at Work. Berrett-Koehler, 1998.
  • Fox, Matthew. The Reinvention of Work. San Francisco: Harper-Collins, 1994.
  • Feieberg, Kevin & Jackie Frieberg. NUTS: Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success. Austin, Texas: Bard, 1996.
  • Fulgum, Robert. From Beginning to End: The Rituals of Our Lives. New York: Ivy Books, 1995.
  • Glanz, Barbara. Care Packages: Dozens of Little Things You Can Do To Regenerate Spirit at Work. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996.
  • Hemsath, Dave & Leslie Yerkes. 301 Ways to Have Fun at Work. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1996.
  • Nelson, Bob. 1001 Ways to Reward Employees. New York: Putnam, 1994.
  • Roddick, Anita. Anita Roddick Speaks Out on Spirituality and Service. West Sussex, England: The Body Shop, 1994.
  • Weinstein, Matt. Managing to Have Fun. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.
  • Yerkes, Leslie. Fun Works. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2001.


Buy MK’s latest book!