I've started my first year in industry some months ago in a UK Software company. Since I'm pretty much a newbie I had to ask around for help. There is this guy that has been helping me a lot with work stuff but also with some other stuff not related to work (e.g. I've had some serious issues with my PC and couldn't get it back on track on my own, so he stayed overtime helping me sort it out). Besides that we also get along pretty well and seem to have a lot of subjects in common.

With Christmas coming up shortly I was thinking of feeling Christmassy while also showing my appreciation for his huge support with my PC (being a student, needing a new PC would have been quite a hit to my budget). He is a bit (more?) geeky and I believe around 30yo (although I never thought it was appropriate to ask) and although I like software development I wouldn't categorise myself as geeky. I am not British myself either, so I am not entirely sure how to go about it. I've noticed (Christmas, in this case) cards are fairly popular, so I was thinking of going for that.

I could send him a Christmas card or something else, more personal. But I don't intend to come off as "too friendly" and get misunderstood either.

Also, there are more colleagues around my desk, some that I've never talked to, some that have been nice to me, but not as involved as this one. I am a bit unsure whether it would be all right to give something to one person or seven out of 30+ that are on the same floor.

So, basically, this is my question: Is a card an appropriate and effective approach to show my appreciation? If not, could you advise of a better way?


My goal : show appreciation to helpful and friendly work colleague.

Cultural context: UK, Software Company

Who is involved: Me and another work colleague, both males.

My uncertain approach: Give a (Christmas) card in which I try to convey my gratefulness.

My priorities for the outcome: To manage to convey my appreciation towards the work colleague without coming off as "too friendly" and without being rude to other work colleagues. I am looking for a better approach if a card fails to be the right choice.

  • 2
    This is a good question. Right now its just a slightly bit off-topic. You might consider rephrasing this post into how handing over such a card to not come over as "too friendly" rather then asking if doing so is appropriate or if you should go for something else. as that's off-topic. Still I think IPS is the right place for asking this rather than workplace.
    – dhein
    Dec 12, 2018 at 6:42
  • 1
    @dhein could you let me know if I managed to solve the off-topic issue, thanks. Dec 12, 2018 at 22:49

2 Answers 2


I think a card is the right idea, but I personally wouldn't go for a Christmas card. There's a sort of expectation/idea that these are things you send everyone to wish them a merry Christmas, and it might be a bit odd to give one to only a single person. Especially since they tend to be somewhat generic, and in this case you've got a specific reason to give a card to this person.

I'd pick out a more generic "Thank you!" card, there's generally tons at bookstores or supermarkets.

Then, for the content, I'd try and be specific. Make it clear what you're thankful for, something like

Thanks for helping me get worked in and feel like a part of the team. I really appreciate it.

works a lot better than a more generic "Thank you for all the help". Sign it with your name, and either hand it over when you come in during the morning with a "Just wanted to show a bit of appreciation for your help", or just leave it lying on his desk if you'd think the previous is too awkward.

  • 4
    Hi Erik, could you add some explanation for why you're suggesting this? Is your background with exchanging cards also UK? Why does a specific message work better? (I know it may seem obvious to you, but for OP and future readers, it helps to spell it out, and why this won't be seen inappropriately friendly.)
    – Em C
    Dec 12, 2018 at 18:32
  • Appreciate your comment and help. I will give him the postcard on Monday and hopefully I won't be too awkward, I want to give it to him in person. Dec 15, 2018 at 15:40

It's a bit strange, I was in the exact same scenario a few months ago. I had just started a Co-op through my school as a software developer, and I was having trouble acclimating. One of the guys in my office helped me out constantly, whenever I needed it. If I had a problem, he would usually drop whatever he was doing and come help me. I couldn't have done it without him.

It's hard to give the right thanks for that, but in my experience baked goods never hurt. I whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookies and gave him a Tupperware container full of them, maybe about 2 dozen. Then I hand wrote a note thanking him for helping me find my feet, and I left them on his desk.

I am a firm believer in the power of a hand-written note. It is subtle enough that you won't draw attention from your other co-workers, but it means a lot to the person reading it.

I'd also recommend not doing it as a Christmas present. If you hide it behind the motive of Christmas, it feels less sincere. Your Co-worker isn't helping you because a special occasion calls for it, he is helping you because he wants to. Maybe it makes him feel good, maybe he was in the same situation at one point. Whatever it is, he is doing it for his own reasons. Give him a present not because it is Christmas, but because he helped you when you needed it and you wanted to give him something in return.

  • 2
    baked goods never hurt = good idea, but be careful (taste, allergies...); better make sure before, as I often did that in the past, and, at the beginning, got hit by the "sorry, I don't like X/Y/Z", or "can't eat A/B/C". And if it's X-mas time, no big deal, pin a for-all-of-you-folks-in-the-office-even-the-one-I-dont-know card on the wall/door, and you're done, you forgot no one ;)
    – OldPadawan
    Dec 12, 2018 at 16:15
  • I appreciate your help and comment, but I hope you do not mind if I accept the other one as I feel I resonate more with that one. Dec 15, 2018 at 15:39

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