How To Give Your Boss A Gift (With Examples)

By Ryan Morris - Apr. 1, 2021
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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Articles In Life At Work Guide

No matter what your field, there will come a time when you consider giving your boss a present.

Sometimes this will be by choice. Other times, this will be a job-mandated event where gifts are being given all around.

Either way, it’s easy for fear to set in pretty quickly. Because not only do you have to decide what you’re getting for your boss — making sure to pick something useful, but not too expensive — you also have to go through the ordeal of actually handing that present over.

Fortunately, your friends here at Zippia have put together a helpful guide for you to navigate precisely this problem.

Should I Get My Boss a Gift?

The answer, while a tad frustrating, is “it depends.”

The fact of the matter is that bosses and employees are different from one another, and you should be very aware of your relationship with your own boss — as well as their personality — before you put yourself in the position of buying a present for them.

Here are some things to consider before buying a present for your boss:

  • Company policy. What is your company policy on gift-giving? It can be easy enough to overlook, but if your company has an official policy prohibiting or limiting gift-giving for any reason, you definitely want to avoid doing so.

  • Your relationship with your boss. What’s your relationship with your boss like? There are a lot of power dynamics at play sometimes when it comes to gift-giving.

    If you think that giving a gift would get a strange or unpleasant reaction due to your existing relationship with your boss, avoid it. Especially if you’re not getting a gift for anyone else in the office.

  • Your boss’s personality. Does your boss even like presents? Some people aren’t huge fans of receiving gifts, and sometimes they can be militantly against them.

    Whether it’s due to their sense of principle or feelings of anxiety, find out ahead of time whether your boss is the kind of person who likes getting gifts before you grab them one.

What Kind of Gift Should I Give My Boss — And How Much Should I Spend?

Choosing a gift can be a fraught process, and wrapped up in choosing a gift for someone also lies the decision of how much to spend on said gift.

Although still stressful, it’s a little easier when the person is a friend of yours.

Worst case scenario there, they may feel a little slighted by a cheap gift or embarrassed at an expensive one — but you’ve always got the chance to fix that relationship afterward as long as your friendship with them is healthy.

But it’s different with a boss. There’s a power dynamic at play, wherein they’re in charge of your responsibilities and how much you get paid, yet they’re still obligated to be nice to you regardless of what gift you give.

That puts you in the spot of really only getting one shot to pick a good gift, and having to sort out their reaction for yourself (and deal with its potential consequences).

Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding what kind of gift to get your boss, and how much you should spend:

  • Your salary. With all gifts, keep in mind how much money you make and how public that knowledge is. Getting a $20 gift while you’re bringing home $200k a year will make you look like a jerk.

    At the same time, no one expects someone who’s making $25k a year to pitch in more than $10 or so bucks for a group gift, or spend more than $20 or so on a personal one.

  • Be personal, but professional. If you know your boss plays sports, a new golf club or a team jersey is a great gift. A jockstrap, not so much.

  • Gift cards. Gift cards can be good, but it depends on the kind of gift card — after all, gifts are supposed to be personal. Don’t give your boss a Chili’s gift card, for example, unless you know that Chili’s is their favorite restaurant of all time.

  • Group presents. If you want to get your boss a big expensive gift, even if you can afford it yourself, consider going in on it as a group with a few other employees. It’ll make it easier on your wallet, it’ll look less weird to give your boss such an expensive gift, and it’ll make everyone else in the office look good too. Wins all around.

  • Not giving anything. If you can’t give a good gift, it’s better to get your boss nothing at all than it is to buy them something cheap or stupid. That would just make you look petty — at least with no gift, they won’t feel like you were mad about having to give them a gift and thus got them something cheap and useless.

How Do I Physically Give the Gift to My Boss?

Once you purchase the gift, there’s still the matter of getting it into your boss’s hands.

It’s not as simple as you might think — especially if your boss is the only one you’re giving a gift to.

If they’ve got their own office, it can be easy enough to leave it in there. But oftentimes you’ll have a hard time sneaking it past all your weirdo nosy coworkers.

Worse yet, you might be working in fairly close quarters with your boss and other coworkers, which could make them impossible to get away from.

And even if you did get gifts for everyone and don’t have to worry about all that, when’s an appropriate time to hand them out?

Some things to keep in mind when handing out your gift(s):

  • The occasion. The occasion is the most important thing here. Why did you buy the gift in the first place? Was it for a holiday? There’s probably an appropriate time of day or place dictated by that holiday’s custom.

  • A birthday. Was it a birthday? In that case, you should have no problem walking it into your boss’s office at some point — unless you’re the only one in the office who remembered or cared. In that case, maybe keep it in your bag and hand it in at the end of the day, or get to work early and present it to them before anyone else arrives.

  • A random gift. If the present you got your boss was work-related or otherwise not tied to any major event (maybe you just felt generous?) then suddenly you’re in a weird situation.

    Pick a time of day when your coworkers aren’t milling around watching. Hand your boss the present when and where there’s the least foot traffic around you as possible.

Gift Ideas for Your Boss

Now that we’ve covered the essentials, let’s get into some safe, common gift ideas for your boss.

  1. Gift card. If you know your boss frequents a local coffee shop or restaurant, consider getting them a gift card. If you’re going for a restaurant gift card, $50 or more is a safe bet to cover a nice meal. You can also just go with an Amazon gift card, but if you can think of a more personalized idea, do that instead.

  2. Food. Whether it’s homemade baked goods, a sampler box of chocolates, or a fruit basket, consumables make a great gift. Consider what foods you’ve heard your boss say they like when coming up with a good food-based gift idea.

  3. A donation in their name. If you know your boss is involved in a charity or cares greatly about a certain social cause, donating money in their name can be a thoughtful and generous gift.

  4. A mug. This one’s a classic for a reason. Most folks drink some form of hot beverage in the morning and/or throughout the day, so a cool and unique mug can be a both functional and stylish gift.

  5. Coffee or tea. This is a great gift to pair with the mug. Specialty coffees and teas work best, or buying the grounds/beans from a local coffee shop that your boss loves. Consider your boss’s habits, though — if they’re a Keurig person, go for K-cups instead of coffee grounds or beans.

  6. Desk toy. If your boss loves to showcase a bit of personality with their desk decor, you can opt for a fun desk toy that will brighten up their day. Consider what pop culture references your boss might enjoy or inside jokes you could nod to with a desk toy.

  7. Alcohol. Speciality alcohol or sampler sets can be a great gift depending on your boss. Obviously, if your boss is a teetotaler, then you’re best off sticking with a non-alcoholic gift.

  8. Tickets. This one might take a bit more research to figure out — after all, you don’t want to give tickets to an event that your boss won’t be able to attend. But if you know your boss’s interests, whether that be sports, bands, plays, or museums, tickets can be a really exciting gift that gives your boss something fun to look forward to.

  9. Office accessories. For a purely functional gift, consider what kinds of office accessories your boss might need or enjoy. An organizer, notebooks, calendars, and fancy pens all fit into this category.

  10. Plant or flowers. Whether you know your boss has a green thumb and enjoys plants or you just think your boss’s office could use a bit of greenery, an office plant or a vase of flowers can brighten up their work environment.

  11. Mini zen garden. Mini zen gardens look neat and provide a relaxing activity for your boss to enjoy when they need a second away from work. The great thing is that, if your boss is so inclined, they can add trinkets to the mini zen garden and personalize it.

  12. Gift basket. Companies make gift baskets for just about every hobby and interest out there. The standard gift basket is food, but you can find ones for gardening, travel gear, and everything in between. Gift baskets are great because they provide a bunch of mini gifts at once, and your boss is sure to get excited about all their new toys.

Final Thoughts

That’s all for this one! Just keep in mind: However you give your boss the gift, and whatever you give them, try not to make a big thing of it.

The fact of the matter is that if they’re your boss, they probably make more than you.

What you’re doing for them is nice, but if you can afford to get it as a gift, they could probably have gotten it for themselves if they’d really wanted it.

So once you give your gift, don’t hang around all day congratulating yourself.

Hand it over, say “you’re welcome,” and get back to work.

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Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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