12/20/2010 12:29 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ask Michael Cohen: How to Give Good Gifts

I have been working at my office for less than a year now and for Christmas my boss invited the team and I to his condo for a private holiday party. I absolutely dread going to these events. I have avoided these types of gatherings all year long as well as nonsense water cooler conversations. Yes, I'm that kind of woman. I come to work and do my job and leave. But I feel that if I avoid this invite I could be pushing it a bit. So my question is, what do you bring to the boss's house as a holiday gift and what are some easy topics of conversation?
Leslie B, Philadelphia, PA

Yes, you need to go. I need to go to a lot of events and trust me honey, the last thing I feel like doing after running my empire all day is socializing but it's part of the job. So, I'm going to share some very personal tips and tricks to get you through many soirees.

First, bring with you a simple, but tasteful bottle of champagne. If you really want to keep it classy, which I think you should, bring two. One for the host to enjoy with his guests, and the other to enjoy on his own. Make sure you get it packaged in the box and have it wrapped since it makes for a better presentation.

As for how to deal with the commitment issue, put a time frame on it. The most I usually give these types of events is an hour and really honey, what is an hour of your time? Arrive about 15-20 minutes after the invite says and there will be plenty of conversations for you to join in on instead of starting up your own. I'm not even suggesting you work the room but at least chat with the host and a gaggle of pals and put a smile on your face.

Don't make your exit a big thing. I swear, and I am being as honest as possible, when you're ready to leave, leave. No long drawn out good byes that attract any attention. Exit stage left, is my motto.

This year I am proposing to my girlfriend and I decided to do it on Christmas. I got her a beautiful ring from Neil Lane and it sort of cost me a fortune. But I'm not complaining. However, I do have a question. Does the engagement ring null and void all other holiday gifts? Benjamin B, Chicago

Absolutely, not. In fact, combination gifts are super tacky. And hello, news flash, if you have the type of fiancé of who likes Neil Lane rings, this will be the first of many things to cost you a fortune so I suggest you get used to it.

What I do recommend, because I am being cognoscente of your wallet, is that perhaps you pick her up something really fabulous such as a cool necklace from David Yurman or maybe a chic new Gucci bag, because I don't know a girl in the world who wouldn't want either.

I am meeting my boyfriend's family for the first time and they all live in New Jersey. We are heading up there to spend the holiday. It's his parents, two brothers and his sister. Do I buy gifts for all of them or one big family gift? What's appropriate all around in this case? I am so confused! Lori L, New York City

What are you, Ms. Santa Claus? Going to bring your big bad Prada bag full of gifts? At best, it would be really awkward; at worst it would be grossly inappropriate because hello, you don't even know his family.

Personally, I have never been in this situation because I've never dated anyone long enough to meet their family, but then again I do get invited to a lot of holiday parties.

Here's I what I recommend, something alcoholic and chic such as a vintage wine and something sweet such as ridiculously contrived cupcakes, such as red velvet with an Oreo icing and Snickers crumbs. You get my point?

When delivering gifts, don't be sheepish about it, as in don't have your boyfriend say, "Mom, Lori brought this for you." Present yourself and your gifts and do yourself a favor - don't over think any of this. The best way to meet someone's family is just be yourself - either they'll love you or hate you, but the more you are obvious about trying to fit in the more likely you'll fall in the later category.

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