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 figure out precisely this problem.
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:
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.
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.
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.
2. 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 afterwards 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:
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 $20k or less 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.
When choosing a gift, be personal, but professional. If you know your boss plays sports, a new golf club or a team jersey is a great gift. A jock strap, not so much.
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. Whatever card you go with, make sure you put at least 15-20 bucks on it — less than that is getting into cheapskate territory.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way: