Should You Buy a Holiday Gift for Your Boss?

In the midst of decking the halls and crossing things off my Grown-Up Christmas List, there’s always a slightly awkward question come this time of year: What should I get my bosses/supervisors for the holidays?

Do a Google search for “presents for bosses” or “etiquette for bosses present,” and there is no shortage of articles ready to dispense advice. On one hand, accepted etiquette through the years has been that presents in professional settings should flow down the command chain, not up. A particularly helpful reader from The Hairpin pointed me to Ask a Manager, which often advises not to get gifts for bosses (baked goods can sometimes be the only exception). On the other extreme, The Billfold also had a column last year about offices that go overboard with gift-giving, trying to rope people into spending more than they are willing or able for their bosses. Then there’s the year my supervisor gave me a Snooki bobblehead and I gave him a keychain that made laser noises—so clearly there is also a lot of gray area in between.

All these possibilities made me think about the myriad ways people approach giving gifts to their bosses (if they do at all). I was especially curious about how people determined what was appropriate, how much they spent, and how these things changed depending on industry/work environment. So, I had some people anonymously submit anecdotes about their gift-giving approaches, and here are some of the responses I received:

Producer at a media production company

I work at a digital media company, and every year the employees all pool in to buy the founders/CEOs something nice. Two of the girls in our company sent out an email reminding everyone to chip in. We could either physically give them cash, or “email” them the money via Square Cash. I’d never used it before, but it is SO cool… it’s not even an app or something you sign up for, just a way to email people money. The email chain where the girls reminded everyone to pitch in also served as a place for all of us to throw around gift ideas, but nothing’s been finalized yet. We’ll present the gifts at our office Christmas party.

 

Writer for an international magazine

I have never given Christmas gifts to any of my superiors. Firstly, in the companies where I worked this was not part of the culture, and secondly I strongly believe that, if any Xmas giving is to be done, it should be done the other way around—unless it’s a small outfit where everybody is “family” and giving a gift comes naturally. In the corporate structure, it’s the boss who has been “serviced” all through the year. An appreciation gift should come from him/her to me. Not vice versa. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t give a gift merely on principle. If I had a great connection with my boss and a great idea for a gift I’d get it.

Also by definition, it’s the boss who has the dough and can afford to be generous to whatever degree. My bosses used to be company owners or high executives who made oodles of money—one of them didn’t even have health insurance—he just paid whatever he needed in cash. What do you give a guy like that? Oh, yes, I did give his wife a small gift … we were friendly and she was in charge of buying a gift for me. But, again, that was different. Gifting here came naturally.

 

Digital Strategist in social media advertising

Last year, I didn’t get my boss anything because my favorite boss left and my new one was an undiagnosed alcoholic who played seriously inappropriate favorites.

This year, I’m getting my boss makeup. I don’t know what the gift-giving protocol is quite yet at my new company, but I do appreciate how my boss has guided me this year. There was a great offer on Gilt City for a high-end makeup line (which felt gift-worthy but not over the top). I noticed once that my boss wore this nice shiny cream/silver colored eye shadow one day, and I thought I’d try to get her something similar so she’d actually use it. It was $16, originally $26. Something reasonably priced that still feels like a luxury. Hopefully it conveys that I appreciate what she’s done for me but doesn’t seem too brown-nosey/over the top!

 

Rights associate at a publishing house

I think the key, whenever possible, is to team up on bosses’ holiday gifts. Not only are you pooling monetary resources, you’re also pooling multiple perspectives on what your boss would find most appealing, suitable, etc. Plus, there’s wisdom in setting things up to either succeed together with your coworkers, or not be alone in feeling like you missed the mark.

In terms of WHAT to get, I’ve always been most comfortable with something somehow related to the shared work experience or environment. Something for the office that’s nicer or more unusual than your boss would get for him or herself helps narrow options, and keep things thoroughly appropriate.

 

Systems manager in hospitality/travel

One year working for a hotel, I bought the General Manager a Coach leather travel folio. He was a Japanese nationalist and once worked for Japan Airlines. I thought he would appreciate using it on his travels. We had little in common, but he supported my project plans.

I’ve also given champagne or wine for the holidays. Also chocolates/cookies, theme ornaments (Hallmark), soaps, and movie tickets.

 

Former analyst in investment banking and current start-up co-founder

I worked for my old boss for three years, and he always gave me super extravagant Christmas gifts and I never gave him anything. To be honest, he made my life completely miserable, and I genuinely believe he gave me crazy fancy looking gifts (huge bags, huge boxes, tons of tissue paper) in order for his bosses to see him “appreciating” me. Also, none of the juniors ever gave their managers gifts in my group, so I never really felt any pressure to give him anything.

I left that terrible job to co-found a start-up, which is awesome, and it’s a total pleasure to show up to work every day. My partner and I don’t give each other gifts, because I think it would be kind of weird. On the other hand, we’ve recently hired a few people and I’m considering having some company stuff (hats? T-shirts? stress balls? unclear) made up for them for Christmas this year. So, maybe there’s more pressure to do gift stuff when there are more people in the office?

 

Administrative assistant for a university

I’ve always been told that you don’t need to get gifts for superiors/bosses and that it’s inappropriate for them to expect them. If you were in the type of office that did holiday gifts, then it would be from the top down, rather than the other way around. I was always told this was for a few reasons: partly because it can be coercive, in that you might feel you need to buy a gift for your boss or that not buying one would affect your performance review, partly because they probably make more money than you and you might not even be able to afford a gift, and sometimes (depending on your position/the office structure) if you’re already doing work for them/that benefits them (especially if you take care of a lot of the busy work/drudge work), it’s just another thing to add on top of that. I actually learned this perspective from my father who manages a bunch of people and will do nice holiday stuff for his staff but wouldn’t be comfortable if that were reversed.

 

Worker at a social services non-profit

Last year, I gave my boss a vase set. It was really pretty, and there was a big vase and two small ones. She likes flowers a lot, and her husband always gets her roses, so I figured that was what she wanted. My budget was under $40, but I was open to spending more. She usually drives me to my bus stop in the winter, cause it’s far from our job, and it’s not such a good neighborhood. She also always has my back when we’re going head-to-head with our bigger boss.

 

Former gardener and current grad student

Once I bought my gardening boss a shank of meat for Christmas. He was really into meat. (Who isn’t!?)

The reason I picked out the meat shank is because my boss and my fellow gardeners would go to the Union Square Farmers Market every week to pick out new peppers and herbs to plant. We would pass the meat stands and George—who really appreciates a good cut of meat—would stare in awe at the shanks. So when gift time came around, we all chipped in $10 (so about $40 in total, I guess) to buy him a really freaking awesome shank.

 

Associate working in accounting

I personally do not believe in buying your boss gifts unless it is a group effort. Not only do you seem like a kiss-ass, but in my opinion it also seems a bit weird, especially if your boss doesn’t get you anything in return (awkward). The only exception to buying your boss a Christmas gift is if you are a personal assistant. Outside of that, a simple “Merry Christmas,” topped with a “Happy New Year” is enough.

 

Assistant in TV ad sales

I work as an assistant to three “account execs” (sales reps), and I got each of them $12-$16 bottles of wine. I had a little fun with it and tried to match their personalities. The fiery Latina got a bubbly with a fashion-forward label. The boisterous Mr. Nice Guy got a big, bold table red. And a really classy pinot noir went to the quiet but well-liked third. They all really appreciated it and said I didn’t have to get them anything, but I’m pleased to work for them and I love gifting so it was perfect!

 

Legal Assistant at a corporate law office

I generally purchase gifts for bosses/supervisors at Christmas. Although, it is less about the holidays and, rather, it’s the end of the year thank you—generally reflecting on the past year and getting ready for the new one. While I have not given gifts to all bosses/supervisors I have had, I think it is a nice gesture for a boss/supervisor who’ve helped me out, has been accommodating during a difficult time, went out of their way to help me develop professionally, or offered me opportunities for overtime because they knew I could use the extra money. A lot of my positions have involved a lot of long hours and these are the people I spend the most time with.

 

 

Kimberly Lew is a published playwright and blogger who writes about the publishing industry and theatre. She once gifted cookies to her office made from a mix and didn’t say anything when everyone assumed it was from scratch.

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68 Comments / Post A Comment

Smith4Life (#2,491)

Absolutely not! I’m actually a little apalled that the majority of the answers on this list seem to be “yes”. I agree with those who said that if there’s any gift giving to be done, it goes the other way around (superiors giving to subordinates out of recognition of a job well done that year). In fact, if you work in government you’re legally prohibited from giving your superior a gift over $5 in value, unless it’s a retirement/departure gift.

Particularly if your office doesn’t give bonuses, a small gift from superior to subordinate can be a nice way to show you care. One year, a boss gave me a Kindle gift card, and I was touched because on our business trips I would always be reading on my Kindle and I guess he paid attention.

One thing I do do for my bosses every year is write them a “thank you” holiday card. I try to put a lot of thought into it and use that, rather than a gift, to express gratitude for mentorship and leadership throughout the year. To cut down on embarassment, I usually leave them on on their desk the night that I leave for my holidays.

sea ermine (#122)

@Smith4Life I was super horrified by the person who mentioned pooling together a cash gift! You’re basically paying your boss back part of your own salary, ick.

AitchBee (#3,001)

@sea ermine SO UPSETTING

Meaghano (#529)

@sea ermine seriously. do these people know what capitalism is?!

@sea ermine I thought they were pooling cash in order to buy a (non-cash) gift?

sea ermine (#122)

@This is my new user name It said they were either physically giving them cash or emailing them cash through a money delivery app which makes me think the gift is just money. From their paychecks. Which are most likely smaller than their boss’s.

sea ermine (#122)

@AitchBee They basically just gave their boss a holiday bonus from their own pockets. I mean, I loved reading all the different perspectives but that one stood out as being particularly messed up.

sea ermine (#122)

@Meaghano Especially since these aren’t just regular bosses, in this case it was the founder and CEO who probably do not need any more cash. And yet their employee’s are somehow OK with funneling their money back up to the top? I wonder what happens for employee’s who can’t afford to chip in.

littlebitofK (#2,422)

@sea ermine No, they actually said they were physically giving cash or emailing cash to the two girls in the office who were in charge of organizing the gift-giving for the bosses. There was no giving cash directly to the boss (which would, in fact, be incredibly strange).

NB: I generally agree that bosses should be the ones gifting their employees (in the form of a bonus) for the holiday. But I also think that if your boss is generally a good boss and gifting comes naturally to you, then chipping in a small amount for a gift is totally fine.

@littlebitofK Yes, that is how I read it. They were emailing money to the people collecting for the gift, not to the boss. In one of the last sentences, there is something about using the email chain about collecting the money to suggest gift ideas.

sea ermine (#122)

@littlebitofK ooohhhh I just reread it again and that makes more sense. Still makes me uncomfortable though.

Meaghano (#529)

@This is my new user name Okay maybe I am evil, but still, effectually the employees are just giving cash. it’s not like it’s a personal gift from you to your boss– which would still be borderline inappropriate but at least has potential to make some sense, if it’s a souvenir or a book you think they would like or something you both talked about or you’re friends and it’s their birthday. I think this would be different in a non-profit industry or somewhere where your boss is overworked, underpaid, and a relentless advocate and supporter for his or her employees — but not a CEO who is presumably making money off the work you do!

@Meaghano Yes, I do agree that in this situation it is a bit weird. If my boss were a CEO/business owner I would feel a bit weird about giving a gift or feeling obligated to pitch in for a group gift. In my personal situation I would totally happily pitch in for a gift for my direct supervisor, but we work in government and I am not making her a profit or anything, and we are fairly close. I would feel weird about about giving to anyone higher up than her though, because I don’t really work closely with them or really know them on anything but a fairly superficial level.

Meaghano (#529)

@This is my new user name Oh yeah, exactly. I definitely think there’s a distinction between owns the company and works on a government salary and their job is to help you do your job well, not make money off of you. Haha

nell (#4,295)

@sea ermine At my last job the creative director went around and hit everyone up for $10 so she could buy a restaurant gift card for the owner of the company — this was a guy who owned multiple companies, houses etc. and oh yeah *paid our salaries*. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting anything (especially not something that’s basically a cash gift) and that he probably turned around and gave it to a client or the maintenance guy. And this was my first job! Someone making an entry level salary and living on pasta and oatmeal should NOT be expected to give a gift to their boss.

Anyway, happy ending, I have a new job and a great boss, who just this morning gave me a pretty little plant for my desk, which seemed like a perfect coworker gift.

TheEdge (#5,372)

@sea ermine This is the scenario under which I would be happy to be part of a group of employees giving a gift to the boss(es): the company is a start up; the bosses are early in their own careers and are taking a big personal risk in starting up the company; they are working as hard as everyone else is and taking a lot of responsibility; they are offering contracts under which employees benefit (through shares or bonuses) if the company succeeds. So a gift that says ‘thanks for the excellent job and amazing opportunity and we appreciate what you do’ would be cool. Otherwise, no. Also, work gifts always seem a bit off the mark to me because people give gifts based on what they know of you at work, which is only a fraction of the whole person.

“On the other hand, we’ve recently hired a few people and I’m considering having some company stuff (hats? T-shirts? stress balls? unclear) made up for them for Christmas this year.”

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…do not give your employees anything with the company logo on it!!! Such bad form.

@fo (#839)

@Jake Reinhardt Well, not as a *christmas* (holiday, year-end) gift. Logoed stuff generally–generally harmless. As a gift? Horrible–unless, *maybe*, talking about a Patagonia jacket with the logo, or a *nice* ($100+) messenger bag, or something like that. And even then, notsomuch a holiday/year-edn ‘gift’.

@@fo even then-just give them the jacket, logo-less. A gift should not be about advertising for the giver. So gauche.

@fo (#839)

@Jake Reinhardt Like I said, *maybe* AND it *still* wouldn’t really be a “gift”. BUT I at least get the concept, and would think “I’d rather have the $3 than this stupid stress ball”, because actually useful.

fake coffee snob (#2,227)

@Jake Reinhardt I don’t know, I’ve actually seen this to be pretty common at startups. Much less so at bigger companies. Stress balls are an inadequate gift, just give those out to celebrate a little victory or something. But a nice messenger bag or jacket, yeah.

Meaghano (#529)

Ew no giving your boss a gift is weird. They should give YOU a gift, and it should be a end of year bonus.

gelatinouscube (#4,706)

@Meaghano seconding that your boss should be the one getting you a gift. i try and get a little something for the people i work directly with because i’m sure i make their lives hard at many points throughout the year because work. ( and usually it is booze also because work.)

EDaily (#4,396)

Agree that you should only be giving gifts as part of an office holiday pool or a Secret Santa situation.

sea ermine (#122)

The one thing I’ll occasionally do, if I like my office, is make cookies for the whole office. It works because it’s not a gift from me to my boss, it’s for everyone I work for and with, and it can be made from things I already have so I don’t have to worry about finding money for a gift (most of my office makes at least double what I do or more, they can buy their own gifts).

AitchBee (#3,001)

@sea ermine I’m probably going to give my supervisor a tin of holiday cookies. It’s not overly personal (the person in the article giving her boss makeup kind of skeeved me out), and it’s not expensive.

sea ermine (#122)

@AitchBee Yeah see that sounds nice and not weird or inappropriate.

francesfrances (#1,522)

Oh my god, PLEASE do not buy your boss makeup, especially shiny eyeshadow. That is a terrible idea. A nice hand lotion in pretty packaging is probably the only appropriate cosmetic item to give a colleague. What? Makeup? No. Don’t do it.

littlebitofK (#2,422)

@amyfrances Agreed!!!

andnowlights (#2,902)

@amyfrances Thirded.

@amyfrances Yeah, that one seemed weird to me. The only situation where that miiiiight be a reasonable option is if the two of you have discovered a mutual interest in make-up, and talk about it regularly and you knew for a fact it would be something that would be well-received.

Like I have co-worker who I could conceivably buy make-up for as a gift, but 1) neither of us are the boss 2) we are actually really close friends 3) we signed up from random monthly make-up subscriptions together on more than one occasion(birch box type things). Even in this situation I don’t think I’d get her make-up unless it was something she specifically stated that she wanted.

snackcarts (#3,300)

I work in a law office where it’s just me and my boss, so I always get him a gift card (he’s a big hunter, so usually to a store that caters to those needs) and/or a tiny little gag gift, but in return I get quite a nice cash bonus (it’s gone up about 25% each year I’ve been here) and a physical gift (like a gift card or mug), though one year he gave me a pound of deer meat from one he had just shot, which sure was something.

AitchBee (#3,001)

@snackcarts How do you decide how much money to put on the gift card?

snackcarts (#3,300)

@AitchBee There used to be two legal assistants here and we’d give about $100 together, but when he left, I halved the amount to $50, which I’m still not sure if it’s too much or too little?

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

Yikes, this made me squeamish.

andnowlights (#2,902)

In my last job (with my crazy boss) they all did presents, so I got my boss a candle and a little glass thing to put it in. Was $10 for both (Ross!). I was okay with that.

Here… I don’t think they do presents at all? I have no idea. I’ve been here 2 months and my asst director said they don’t but I feel so weird not giving presents to people I see every day!

My husband is a student worker and they gave him a gorgeous university branded fleece. Normally they don’t give their student worker a present, apparently, but he’s super special.

We got my students branded water bottles. They’re really nice! And we had to get them branded because we used university funds. We wanted to give them giftcards but apparently that would be considered taxable income because they’re student workers.

kellyography (#250)

I work on a really small staff in academia, so I usually just make something small for everyone (including my department chair). Last year it was puppy chow (or “muddy buddies”) in mason jars, the year before was hot chocolate mix in smaller, wide-mouth mason jars (I really like mason jars). I forget what I did the year before that, and I have no idea what to get everyone this year, especially now that a bunch of people are gluten-free, etc.

Exoskin (#5,418)

@kellyography I’m in the same situation – 4 staff members (incl. myself) and a department chair. Everyone is getting the same gift from me – a $5 gourmet cupcake and a card. An acknowledgement of the season, and of the past year, without spending a ton of money.

We also do a department lunch, a staff lunch, and we got a surprisingly generous cash gift from the faculty members this year. Love this job.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

Our company pushes the inter-employee gift giving pretty hard at the holidays. Department members all exchange gifts which I have previously found difficult because I was in a seven member department and gifts tended to average about $20 a piece. I appreciate that thought but also dont’ want to spend $140 on gifts for coworkers. This year I’m in a smaller department and I’ve been pushing the idea of a holiday lunch instead.

Our HR department also organizes a company wide gift for our President and CEO which is…nice I guess? I don’t know. His monthly take-home pay is several times my yearly salary AND he will be receiving a 6 figure bonus this year while associates are not receiving anything as a result of “weaker than expected profits.” He is not an unpleasant man, in fact he’s quite genial, but i dont’ really feel like coughing up cash for an unmemorable gift for a millionaire.

BashinRobbin31 (#5,512)

@EvanDeSimone – hope you get that department holiday lunch! that is way better than $20 spent on each person for something you can’t be 100% sure that they will like.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@BashinRobbin31 That plan seems to have backfired. We’re having an office wide potluck AND doing department gifts. At least there are only four people in my department this year!

Kthompson (#1,858)

Wow, I would never give a boss a gift. My first boss, at the newspaper, I loved and worshipped, but I never bought her anything. Our newsroom had a yearly dinner, held in the newsroom of course, because we had to work. My second boss, I hated with a passion, and would only give him AIDS, given the opportunity. The office (I worked for a Really Evil Insurance Company) had a luncheon at a nice hotel, where they only served salad, and I received nothing from anyone. My third and current boss, I’m kinda eh on (she micromanages) but our office is doing a white elephant, so there’s that. (Last year she gave me a book, which wasn’t my genre, but I read just about anything, so that was nice.) Last year we also had a big potluck, and our vendors send us tons of candy and snacks, so we eat well throughout the month.

My white elephant, by the way, is a little book called “How to Poo at Work,” coupled with a hand sanitizer labeled “Maybe you touched your genitals” and a little tin that supposedly contains one pair of emergency underwear.

tuntastic (#2,769)

@Kthompson … I’m sorry? You want to give your old boss AIDS? What is wrong with you?

Kthompson (#1,858)

@tuntastic Well he did drive me into a mental breakdown for which I had be hospitalized and heavily medicated. What with the months of harassment and “I hate you, everyone hates you, I wish you’d quit, I’m going to get you fired, you’re a bad person, I’m going to get rid of you” shtick. Still have nightmares.

No regrets: I hope he has a long, painful, drawn out death.

littleoaks (#1,801)

I am so, so glad that holiday gift-giving in my department tends to be confined to a $10-15 opt-in white elephant gift swap.

Also, I get the appeal of giving in baked goods or other treats (thoughtful, low-pressure, tasty), but, as a young woman often erroneously assumed to be an admin assistant, I unfortunately think it would hurt me more than anything.

sea ermine (#122)

@littleoaks Yeah, now that I’m an admin assistant I’m…hesitant. Fortunately no one does gifts in my office and my boss doesn’t celebrate Christmas (a number of people in my office don’t) and I’ll be on vacation then anyway so I don’t have to deal with it. I would have done it last year because everyone in my office brought in baked goods but now I’m in a bigger office where I’m often asked to do things that are wayyyyy moe assistanty than what is part of my job description and I don’t want to add to that.

thegirlieshow (#5,285)

I’ve always been solidly on the ‘bosses should be giving employees gifts’ side. In July I started a new job and on the day I read this post I get an email about chipping in to give our boss a present. I guess it’s a Thing here so I grudgingly handed over the (minimum) amount suggested. I like you just fine, boss, but I can assure you that you have more money than me…

ladyj (#1,774)

I have a question I’m hoping you all can help me out with!

I work in a small nonprofit. There are three other ladies who work here, and then our male boss. Traditionally we all exchange little gifts with each other at our Christmas lunch. This year I was thinking about getting my fellow women candles (I want to stay away from food, because I hate getting cookies/chocolates/candy at the holidays) – but I don’t know what to get my boss. I only want to spend around $10. The candles are great because they’re generic and cheap, but now I’m stuck.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

@ladyj I’d still get him a candle. Maybe one that smells like food.

@ladyj Get him a Man Candle.

ladyj (#1,774)

@anachronistique How did I not know these existed?!

moreadventurous (#4,956)

I’ve been stressing about this. I’m a personal assistant working out of my boss’s home, so I can’t really pool resources or anything. ALSO, her birthday is right around Christmas. I’m leaning towards a birthday card, with a nice, heartfelt note inside, and a “PS Merry Christmas” footer. Yes? No? OMG IT’S STRESSFUL.

Also, she was the nicest for my birthday. She gave me a $50 gift card to the coffee shop near my house, an orchid plant, and also a raise (it happened to be my 6 month anniversary at the job.) I feel like the bar is high.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

@moreadventurous I say buy her a nice little bouquet of flowers or something. That way you can help her to brighten up her home for her birthday! Don’t feel like you have to match what she gets for you, because she’s your boss and presumably makes a lot more than you.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

@moreadventurous A nice card sounds like just the thing.

sunflowernut (#1,638)

@moreadventurous Oh yeah do the card! I totally missed that part because I wasn’t paying very good attention. A thoughtful card is always the best.

Exoskin (#5,418)

@sunflowernut I love the idea of giving flowers for birthdays, it’s my go-to gift for people I’m not terribly close to. It’s a really nice gesture, without being super personal or expensive.

warblerneck (#3,950)

I give a small gift (hand cream, soap, homemade jam) to my immediate supervisor for Christmas and have never thought everything of it—but I don’t feel obligated to do so. She’s an incredibly sweet woman who has really helped me learn the ropes of my field (and has always given me a Christmas gift or flowers on my birthday).

I work at small family-run company and have been here since the start, so most of us are quite close. Co-workers will often exchange gifts if they are friends with one another (or if one was covering for another while they were out on medical leave). I also will bring in homemade cookies/candies for the office, as do other people. However, I would not give a gift to the company principals (which includes my highest up boss/former supervisor); we don’t have that kind of relationship.

honey cowl (#1,510)

Nope nope nope nope nope nope

highjump (#39)

Bigish DC political place. I only gift my department: 2 coworkers, admin assistant, and boss. The coworkers and boss each get a bottle of Knob Creek and the admin assistant gets crumbs cupcakes that cost the same amount of money because she doesn’t drink. I guess it is kind of weird I gift my boss but he always looks out for me.

I cannot even imagine gifting anyone on the executive floor, like the people whose names are on our letterhead. That would be seen as a super kiss ass move and I don’t want them to pay attention to me anyway.

lemonadefish (#3,296)

I can’t believe all these people giving their bosses gifts! The bosses give us bonuses, and then we do a white elephant gift exchange at the office Christmas party. One year a new wife of an employee brought in little sacks of hot cocoa mix for everyone, and the bosses were all, oh no, we don’t do presents in the office!

I’m one of three staff in my department (at a smallish college), and we all get each other small gifts for the holidays – technically one of the other staff is my supervisor, but we’re not terribly hierarchical and she’s also gone to bat for me in so many ways that I like being able to give her a present. I don’t do a gift for our department chair, though.

SorchaMaire (#5,497)

I make my boss a tray of cinnamon rolls every year. She always gets me a gift that costs actual money, and being part of a one sided exchange would feel weird for me.

I want to puke all over whoever actually used the phrase “fiery Latina” in seriousness.

frozenstrawberry (#1,827)

@Diana Arboleda@facebook Agreed. A better Christmas gift would be for the employee to stop using the words “fiery Latina” in public.

sea ermine (#122)

@Diana Arboleda@facebook ugh, omg if only people could never use those two words together again (almost as bad? ‘fiesty’)

SD2SF (#3,072)

I was very naive last year and wanted to get my boss something as a thank you for being a great person and mentor, we’ve been through a lot this year together, sort of gift. It was a bottle of scotch which was about $70. He was so embarrassed by it, I will never forget it. I ended up feeling really bad for putting him in that situation because he didn’t get me anything. I honestly didn’t care, but now I will steer clear from getting gifts for my superior. The grey area is the CEO of my company, who I am friends with and always gets me something, but he is also a millionaire. My other coworker always gets him something thoughtful and I feel like the Scrooge between us.

KatiePerry (#5,504)

I have a pretty close relationship with my boss (who is also more of a mentor-figure than taskmaster-figure). I usually get her something small in the $10-15 range that seems personal–either something a little bit jokey or some shared interest we’ve specifically had a conversation about, etc. She usually gets me something too. But this also fits in with my culture at work, where a lot of people bring in small gifts/candy/baked goods the day of the holiday party. I think it’s more about an overall festive day than anyone spending big money on each other.

BashinRobbin31 (#5,512)

I go to lunch with my boss semi-regularly and we usually get two checks and pay for ourselves. So during the end of the year, I like to take them out to a nicer-than-usual lunch and pay for them. Usually it is reciprocated with others in my immediate team and the boss takes us out to a fancy lunch and we get to spend a couple of hours outside of the office. Granted, I’m sure that group lunch is paid for by the company. Then I will usually write a card expressing my gratitude and calling out specific instances where my boss helped me out or gave me good guidance. No physical gift, but appreciation has been show. Also, for context, I work in technology, I am a woman, and all of my superiors have been women (so it is not unusual for us to get lunch together off the company dime in the first place). I personally think physical gifts can be unwanted and are a pain to get rid of, so I opt to give people something they can experience, eat, or drink whenever I can.

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