A faulty bulb knocked out an entire string of lights on your Christmas tree. You can't find that hot toy your nephew wanted anywhere. And you don't know when you'll have the time to clean the house before holiday guests arrive.

What else could go wrong?

How about you have to buy a gift for your office pod mate, and you don't have a clue what to get her?   

Many workers feel the prospect of buying presents for their colleagues adds yet another layer of pressure to an already stressful season. 

A LinkedIn survey found that 31% of employees say they feel they have to add co-workers to their gift-giving lists, and 40% wish their company would say gift-giving is off-limits.

A lot of the tension stems from not knowing what to buy. If your father-in-law doesn't like the sweater you bought him, there may be an awkward silence at the dinner table, but giving an inappropriate gift to a colleague or boss could lead to more severe consequences.

Horror stories abound. Philippe Weiss, president of the workplace legal compliance consultancy Seyfarth at Work, says he heard about one manager who gave his sales team bamboo toothbrushes. The recipients interpreted the gift as a dig at their oral hygiene.

An employee at another company put her job in peril when she gifted her boss with a book on how to be a better manager.

To avoid such faux pas, it makes sense for companies to put a gift policy in place so employees know what is and isn't acceptable. If your workplace doesn't set parameters, here are some tips Weiss says you might want to keep in mind.

•Don't buy gifts that can be deemed too intimate. Anything worn close to the body, from clothes to perfume, should be avoided, along with invites on excursions – such as a wine tasting – that could be seen as more romantic than collegial.  

•Don't shop for the boss. It might be tempting to deliver a little extra holiday cheer to your managers, but generally speaking, they probably shouldn't accept. It's best to not put them in a position to have to say, "Thanks, but no thanks."

•Don't make everyone chip In for a group gift. When people are spending on everything from decorations to extra towels for visiting relatives, it's a good idea to allow members of your team to make their own decision on whether to contribute to the pot. 

•Don't give cash. That, and even gift cards, could be taxed as income, Weiss says.

•Do encourage "Secret Santa."  Let employees who want to participate pick names randomly. Then come up with gift suggestions, and set a budget so no one breaks the bank. 

•Do split the bounty.  If a client sends over a giant plate of cookies or other treat, share it with your office mates. Don't forget to include the mailroom and maintenance staff.

•Do consider giving to the community. Instead of having employees pick out picture frames and candles for their peers, why not donate as an office to a cause? 

Follow Charisse Jones on Twitter @charissejones.