Giving money is tacky. We should give thoughtful gifts that we spent a lot of time thinking about and searching for. Or better yet, we should make something handmade. Knit something, perhaps, or the good old plate of Christmas goodies.

Wrong, says Jenée on Twitter. 

I'm inclined to agree with her. Look, I like baked goods and hand knits as much as the next person, but that doesn't mean it's what other people want for Christmas. (In fact, I actually probably like baked goods more than the next person, but that's a diet problem and not a gift problem.)

Twitter was also inclined to agree with her:

Some people even brought up some sexist experiences they'd had with Christmas gifts instead of cash:

Why on earth anyone would think this is okay is beyond me but others chimed in with similar stories.

Now, of course, you're not obligated to give gifts to anyone, but if you choose to do so, you should give something that the person could actually use or you know they want. And for people who do provide service, like your cleaning lady or your hairdresser, you should budget for a cash gift at year end. Think of it as a year-end bonus, just like you'd want your boss to give you.

Now, if you just love baking, of course it's okay to give your administrative assistant a plate of your famous cinnamon rolls, but she'd also like a grocery store gift card to go with it. 

And bosses, remember, you shouldn't expect a gift from your direct reports. No hinting, and if they give you something better than a small, cheap, group gift, you should politely decline. Like it or not, there's a hierarchy and gifts go down, not up.

This is not to say that objects are never appropriate. Of course, they are, but as with Janee's original tweet, if someone earns substantially less than you do, they probably would prefer cash over a new mug.

Published on: Dec 21, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.