When a big event occurs in a person’s life, the first instinct for many people is to send flowers in recognition. While sending flowers for congratulations, birthday flower arrangements, or sympathy bouquets is always a thoughtful gesture, when it comes to delivering business gifts to a co-worker or colleague, the situation can get a little tricky. After all, you don’t want to accidentally imply you’re romantically interested in your boss!
When you work alongside someone day after day, you establish a bond. Even in today’s digital age when sometimes you never meet a co-worker face-to-face, connections and friendships are established. With that in mind, when a colleague has a big life occurrence, is it appropriate to send flowers as you would to a non-work acquaintance?
Here, we explore some of the rules and considerations surrounding flower-giving etiquette between co-workers.
Types of Work Relationships
Each type of work relationship is governed by slightly different rules when it comes to gift- and flower-giving. Here are some common work relationships and guidelines for sending flowers to each group.
In general, it’s common to “gift down” rather than up. While sending flowers to co-workers and subordinates is OK, gifting a floral arrangement to your boss may be interpreted as “sucking up.”
Gifts for Teammates
- Know the Rules – Most offices have both written and unwritten rules that will dictate whether giving gifts to co-workers is appropriate. Make sure you know the rules before gifting anybody flowers. If you haven’t been with the company for very long, ask a co-worker.
- Be Wary of Allergies – Flower allergies aren’t uncommon, so if you aren’t sure whether a co-worker is allergic to flowers, go with a plant, instead.
- Stick With Tulips, Daisies, Sunflowers, and Peonies – These blooms are least likely to have romantic indications that could accidentally send your co-worker the wrong message.
Gifts for Bosses
- Give as a Group – Giving your boss a gift may be seen as trying to curry favor. If you want to recognize your boss on their birthday or for another special occasion, get together with your co-workers to organize a group gift rather than sending a personal one.
- Stick With Yellow – If you have a say in the flower color, choose a yellow or gold arrangement, as these colors tend to symbolize good health and friendship, with no hint of romantic undertones. Mixed bouquets with a variety of colors are also acceptable.
Gifts for Clients
- Avoid a Personal Touch – Unless you have known your client well for many years, avoid giving gifts and flowers that seem too personal. Stick with a basic bouquet of daisies or sunflowers and pair the arrangements with a fruit basket, sweets, or another edible gift.
- Know the Rules – In some industries, there’s a fine line between a gift and a kickback. Make sure any gifts you send to clients are within the rules of your field.
Gifts for Subordinates
- Gift Equally to Every Employee – If you’re a boss who loves to give gifts, make sure you are giving them equally to everybody. A flower arrangement is not a bonus, so you shouldn’t send larger bouquets to some employees and smaller ones to others.
- Including a Personalized Message Can Boost Morale – If giving flowers for birthdays, promotions, or anything else is standard procedure in your company, make sure each one is accompanied by a personalized message so each employee feels important rather than a mark on a to-do list.
There are plenty of events to celebrate in life—engagements, babies, promotions, new home, etc. If it were a good friend or family member doing the celebrating, you wouldn’t think twice about sending flowers. In the workplace, though, there are some extra factors to consider.
- Consider Making it a Group Gift – When you don’t know a coworker well, but want to send congratulations flowers, it’s a good idea to talk to some others in the office. Setting up a flower delivery from the group can seem less awkward and still lets the co-worker know that others wish her/him well.
- Know the Office Rules – Every office is different. Some have absolutely no rules about gift-giving and others have very strict standards. If you want to give flowers at work, you not only need to know the flower-giving etiquette, but also the office gift-giving policy (written or unwritten.)
- Gifts Flow Down – As a rule of thumb, in office environments, gifts typically flow down, not up. It’s generally accepted that bosses can give employees gifts and co-workers of the same level can exchange gifts, but employees shouldn’t give the boss something. Again, every office is different and if you want to give the boss a congratulatory flower delivery, consider making it a gift from the whole team.
- Never Guess if Somebody Is Pregnant – The last thing you want is to embarrass your co-worker (and yourself) by congratulating them on a pregnancy, only to find out they’ve been gaining weight for unrelated reasons.
- Choose Mildly Scented Flowers – Pregnancy can cause usually tolerable things – like strong smells – to become intolerable, so choose flowers with a light smell or live plants for pregnant people.
- Combine Flowers With Baby Gifts – For baby showers or new moms, combine lightly scented blooms with diapers (tip: choose a larger size, because most people go with infant sizes – and babies grow!), baby books, stuffed toys, or other baby items.
- Avoid Romantic Overtones – Most people will appreciate a gift of birthday flowers, but you should avoid red flowers, pink blooms, or most colors of roses since these blossoms tend to have romantic connotations.
- Choose Mixed Bouquets, Yellow Blooms, or Sunflowers – Yellow flowers are unlikely to carry any romantic connotations, and sunflowers are known for representing platonic cheer. Mixed bouquets are another great option for birthdays, as long as you avoid red or pink focal blooms.
- What to Send – When a co-worker has a death in the family, it’s natural to want to do something to cheer them up. If you are close to your co-worker and feel comfortable with sending an arrangement on your own, go ahead. Usually living plants and floral baskets are a good choice. You can send flowers online and have them delivered to the office, the co-worker’s home, or the funeral home. Flower delivery from the whole office is another option. Talk to the boss and other co-workers about what would be most appropriate.
- Be Sensitive to Culture and Religion – Before any flower delivery is sent, it’s important to consider the colleague’s religion and culture. The last thing you want to do is offend someone with your selection. In some cultures, flowers of a certain color may be inappropriate for bereavement. Occasionally flowers may not be welcomed at all due to certain beliefs. To learn more, check out our guide to sympathy flowers. If in doubt, contact the funeral home to find out what would be alright to send.
- Keep it Friendly – As with any other occasion, make sure to choose floral arrangements that don’t have any romantic connotations. Yellow blooms are typically a safe bet, as are sunflowers and daisies.
- Consider Scent Sensitivities – Some people are extremely sensitive to fragrances and may not enjoy a highly scented bouquet. Plants may be a “safer” option to celebrate the work anniversaries of people you don’t know well.
- Keep the Message Cheery – Get well soon flowers are generally quite appreciated. If someone in your office is sick or recovering from surgery, sending a bouquet or plant along with upbeat messages from co-workers is a lovely gesture. This can be done by an individual, a small group, or the whole office.
- Carefully Consider Your Options – When you send flowers online to your sick colleague, be sure to consider the level of care your gift requires. If you’re sending a plant, make sure that caring for it is something that’s manageable for the recipient. Also, if you’re thinking about sending flowers to a hospital, check into the hospital flower policy and choose flowers allowed in hospitals before sending.
Retirement or Going Away
- Match Your Co-Worker’s Preference – Pair a floral arrangement with champagne, wine, sweets, or something else you know they’ll enjoy to let them know how much you have appreciated working with them.
- Plan a Going-Away Party With Your Other Co-Workers – If you know the boss isn’t planning a party, see if your co-workers will split the cost for a sheet cake and some decorations to wish your retiring or leaving co-worker luck in the next phase of their life.
Choose The Bouqs Co. for Farm-Fresh Blooms
Sending flowers to co-workers is a thoughtful gesture, but you need to be aware of flower-giving etiquette before making any moves. Taking the time to ask a few questions before you send flowers online can save awkward office interactions.
If you’re looking for flowers that are sure to impress, be sure to browse The Bouqs Co. We don’t cut most of our flowers until you place your order, so the blooms always arrive as fresh and stunning as possible.Shop All