Gifts for your Boss?

This is my first Christmas in the workplace, so I’m not sure what expectations exist when it comes to holiday gift buying. It seems to me that buying my boss a gift is something I should do, considering he’s been great to me since I’ve been with the company, and has invited me over to home for dinner on a number of occasions.

But what is an appropriate gift? My budget for this is about $200. I was thinking perhaps some nice wine glasses, or maybe a decent bottle of wine. Really though, I’m kicking myself for not buying a box of cigars while I was overseas. Is there something else that might be better suited toward your boss though? Also, do I buy for my boss’s boss as well? My boss reports directly to a sr. vp, but I’ve been hand-selected for certain tasks and projects by that sr. vp, and he’s essentially responsible for my career, so do I buy something for him as well? I don’t want to come off as ungrateful, but I don’t want to look like an ass-kisser either.

My experience in gift buying, and in workplace holiday etiquette is somewhat limited, so I’d love for anyone to offer suggestions and or opinions.

I could be wrong, but I’ve heard that proper etiquette is no gifts for bosses. I found this etiquette column, which seems to agree.

I love my bosses, but I don’t give them gifts. They give me something every year. I thank them and continue to be the best employee I can be. I think we’re all more comfortable that way. It helps keep the relationship on the employer-employee level, which is where we want it.

That make sense?

Well, I don’t know. I think if the boss’ group as a whole, gets him/her a gift; that shouldn’t be a problem. But I wouldn’t give a personal gift to the boss. Especially one that cost $200.

I made homemade hot chocolate for my whole department, including my boss. It was fairly low-cost to make, homemade (but easy - used Alton Brown’s recipe) and then just put it in 1/2 pint mason jars with some ribbon & a jingle bell.

I’ve found that little, handmade gifts like this go over best because it’s small enough that it doesn’t appear you are kissing up, just being friendly - and yet it’s not something small and chintzy that you bought at a store. And it’s really, really easy but people tend to be impressed by it. Even if you are a guy, actually more so if you are a guy (I’m a girl).

One guy I know did some hand-dipped pretzels for everyone one year. Again, super easy to do (melt chocolate chips and shortening, dip pretzels in, let cool and put in a clear bag with a bit of ribbon) yet everyone was all “ooh” and “ahh.”

Hope that helps.

I just gave my boss a fresh evergreen wreath and he seemed very pleased.

I’m a boss, and I’d feel uncomfortable if one of my team members bought me any personal gift, let alone one worth two hundred bucks.

This is helpful stuff. Thanks.

Yeah, $200 seems way extravagant for a boss gift, unless you’re making mega-bucks. Maybe check around with some of your colleagues, see what the usual office practice is…

I always buy my boss something if I like him/her well enough to do so. I don’t buy if we are not friends. If he drinks wine or otherwise imbibes, I’ll get booze. I also sometimes give a silver christmas ornament. 200 seems high to me, but I don’t know what kind of money you make, how close you are, what the social environment is.

I will say this: since the OP mentioned that the boss has invited them over several times, etc, that the bottle of wine might be appropriate - but not to give them at work. I would bring that if you are invited over for the holidays.

I did recall after I posted that for one of my bosses (my favorite boss, actually) - our department knew better than to get him a personal gift, but we did get presents for his 2 daughters. Usually we spent less than $50 on the 2 of them - but he would get really tickled by it - that we would do stuff for them. Our boss had us over for Hannukah/Christmas every year - and we would see them then - so we knew them and he loved them so much.

I bought a small gift for the two sales execs I work for and got cards for the rest of the team, including our two bosses. To personalize the cards I wrote a note to go with the cards saying what I appreciated about thm in particular this past year.

If you work for a big company, the company may have rules about this sort of thing. Federal employees, for example, are severely restricted in what they are allowed to give their supervisors. You’d be wise to investigate this before giving any gift at all.

I watched my boss throw a chair at another employee. My gift to him was a warning that if he flings one my way I’ll be on the phone to the cops before it stops moving.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that there may actually be legal issues involved in gift-giving to the boss. If a boss gives a gift to an employee, it’s nearly always paid for out of the company coffers and is therefore more of a bonus, and is actually a part of your compensation package, than a gift. Having an employee “compensate” his/her employer gets into weird territory.

IANAL, and there are probably differences in employment law regarding this by jurisdiction, so YMMV.

A nice card would probably be fine, though.

No gift for the boss. It sets an uncomfortable trend, because he’d have to get a gift for every one of his direct reports.

I agree that a tray of christmas cookies with a nice card would be fine. But a $200 gift? Um, no. That seems borderline inappropriate because it infers an intimacy that goes beyond the office.

You’re supposed to “give down” not up.

In otherwords those in your company that are working under you, it IS permissable to give a gift to. You don’t give to those who are your bosses or have a higer position in the company.

Of course this doesn’t include if your boss is your friend. You also have to obey company rules.

It also doesn’t include cards. Christmas (or other holiday cards, Hanukkah, Kwanza etc) are always acceptable for everyone, providing they are appropriate. In otherwords you don’t give a Jew or Muslim a Christmas card but you could give them a non-secular “holiday” card.

If you feel you “must” give or you really “want to,” you should give a “token” gift of some sort. Like candy or cookies or something small but meaningful.

What do you do if you gave your bosses gifts last year? I’d never gotten Xmas gifts from a boss, but two years ago my new boss gave me a gift. So I gave him one last year, and because I didn’t want it to be ackward, I gave one to my long-time second boss (who also never gave gifts but who was guilted into giving me one two years ago because new boss gave me a gift. You follow?) Anyway, I would like not to give gifts this year because it just doesn’t… feel right. Can I do that now that I’ve established precedent? (I know, this may be so egregiously rude and obvious, but I don’t know which way to go.)

I think you should donate to a charity on behalf of the company and just give them each a card indicating as such.

THAT is a great idea.

Peg Leg, if there are people “below” you in the organization, such as receptionists or other support staff, it is thoughtful and smart to get them a small gift. Sweets, pretty candles, gift cards for Starbucks, things like that. A little consideration towards people in these roles can pay off, and is just a nice thing to do.