Gifts for the boss?

What do you all think about buying holiday gifts for your boss? Good or bad idea? Any gifts that you would avoid?



  • 8 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Well, I think group gifts are a bad idea.  Unless it is voluntary participation and everyone gets to sign the card and no one knows who put $s in and who didn't.  Mandatory participation where one or a few decide on the amount to spend is not a good idea.  Because you never know employees' true financial issues.  Once, the highest employee in a group of 10-12 decided to buy expensive pens for our two bosses. She then went around and demanded $x per employee for the gift. I was brand new and had no idea that this was common/expected.  The $x was more than I spent in 2 weeks for food, I was the sole breadwinner for my husband and I, I was the least paid in the group, and honestly could not afford it....but didn't feel I could say "no" at that point.

    But a small gift directly from you to the boss, I don't have a problem with that if it is common in your office/industry.  I would stay away from alcohol, or anything with a sexual overtone.  Also stay away from anything religiously offensive (i.e. don't buy a Santa for a Jewish boss, don't buy a dreidel for a Christian boss). If you don't know the boss well enough to know whether something would be offensive, don't buy it.

  • 100% agree with HRforMe.  Gift giving is very difficult in the
    work place - it is even worse if it is mandatory.  (I tended to
    stay away from "Secret Santas" as well.  Of course, if you are in
    a very small company I think some of the rules change.)  I found
    that a nice plant with a well written note...usually something humorous
    about spending so much time in the office that bringing the outside in
    during those short winter days would be appropriate.  It is hard
    for a plant to be offensive or misunderstood.  (Again, it is also
    hard for a plant to be personal and thoughtful.)

  • I was told by a business professor only to give gifts to people who are below you in company hierarchy.  I give small token gifts to my direct reports and others who do me favors (i.e. mailroom clerk), not to my bosses. 

    I do, however, bake some special cookies and bring them in for the whole department, including bosses to enjoy.


  • I agree with babaHR on the holiday gifts.  However, if a boss has a baby, gets married, gets a new degree or a promotion, then I think it's OK for everyone to chip in for something appropriate.  I agree that there should be no fixed amount; just an envelope to collect money and a card to sign, so it's up to the individual to just sign card or sign and contribute an amount they feel comfortable with.
  • i agree with babahr. you give down the corporate ladder, not up.
  • In one of my first jobs at a very small employer--about 7 of us total--the holiday tradition was for each person in the office to buy a gift for everyone! This was all fine and dandy for the husband and wife team who owned the company and had plenty of money, but for me, the puny administrative assistant who was making peanuts, it was a tall order to have to add 7 additional names to the gift-giving list!  And it's not like I could afford anything that the owners would genuinely get excited about....

    Why it didn't occur to them that this was a burden to someone like me is beyond me. Anyway, I've never forgotten that and would never expect a direct report to buy me a gift, or put pressure on co-workers to chip in on a group gift as a result.

  • While I do personally agree with the business professor, it can also depend on your business environment. I work for a family-owned company where we tend to pander to the owners (none of whom actually work for the company anymore).  They are generous in benefits, timeoff, and pay so there was a feeling for many years that we needed to say "thank you" for their generosity.  What was interesting was that the ones that came up with the idea to do so were the employees who were not doing their job well but were brown-nosing the family.  The family didn't often look below the surface since they were getting high returns on their capital.

    This year, we have decided against continuing the tradition.  Mostly because employees were just told that health insurance would no longer be totally free for dependents.  That alone is an added expense for most employees.  I just don't feel right asking for money for Christmas presents too -- especially for people who make much more money than any of the employees.  However there will still be a few who get something for the owners.



  • I don't think there's a "hard and fast" rule when it comes to this.  I think it depends on the relationship you have with your boss.  I usually get him a bottle of Bailey's or Sambuca.
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