Holiday present for boss


Holiday etiquette question. Does anyone give presents to your boss?

I've been working at a firm for 3 years and have received two week's pay for bonuses so far. 

My wife thinks I should get them a present for around $50. But I don't want the boss to feel uncomfortable or other employees to think I'm brown nosing. 

Dec 18, 15 4:48 pm
null pointer

dick in a box.

Dec 18, 15 4:54 pm


Dec 18, 15 4:56 pm

or, better yet

Dec 18, 15 5:10 pm

A $50 boss gift would be uncomfortable and viewed as brown nosing by most bosses.  It's not necessary to give the boss a gift.  If you really feel compelled then go with something small, like a book about a subject you know he's been getting interested in, or a food gift.

Dec 18, 15 7:34 pm

Depends on how well he pays you. Fuck the other employees

Dec 18, 15 7:36 pm

Another approach might be to get all the employees together and jointly purchase your boss something nice ... that way it's perceived as group gratitude and it avoids the individual 'brown nose' tag. Architecture books are always a good choice.

Dec 18, 15 8:55 pm
Everyone at the firm chips in for a partners gift every year. If you are going to do one, that's the way to go since it isn't brown nosing if everyone is in on it.

To do one from just yourself is kind of weird and gives the connotation that you are trying to butter them up for a promotion or raise.
Dec 18, 15 9:03 pm

If there is any obligation at all it's the other way around. 

Dec 18, 15 9:13 pm

I've had to put in for a gift at 1 of my 5 firms, my nurse wife has always given gifts at all her work places, I think it's a chick thing

Def not a good idea to be the only one giving a gift
Dec 18, 15 9:39 pm

As an employer I rarely got singular gifts from employees and was uncomfortable when I got them…would be uncomfortable giving you a $2,000 bonus and you give me a $50 shirt….mostly got nice sweaters as a joint gift from all which comes off more like symbolic gratitude.

Dec 18, 15 9:40 pm

We all pitch in for a decent bottle of scotch for each of the bosses.

Dec 18, 15 10:02 pm

As everyone has said, it should be either a joint gift from everyone or nothing at all. It's not really proper etiquette for you to take the money paid to you by your boss and spend it on a gift back to him/her.

Dec 19, 15 9:19 am
Non Sequitur
I drop a bottle of booze next to the coffee maker every year during the last week. I don't say anything but plenty of people are suddenly very happy with their morning coffees.
Dec 19, 15 9:40 am

... or, since your wife suggested the gift.. maybe you 2 can bake sthg together and share it with the whole team with a special share to the boss and his wife :P

<just make sure your wife is a good cook>

Dec 19, 15 10:38 am

Careful about work advice from a spouse….once had a guy come in and tell me his wife said he needed a raise…thought my head was going to explode....I fixed the wife’s problem by putting him on unemployment about a month later.

Dec 19, 15 1:59 pm

The adage "when in doubt, don't" applies nicely here.

Unless it's customary in your office for individuals to gift the boss, your proposal runs a risk of various negative consequences (described nicely in earlier posts).

If you must mark the occasion somehow, get one of those ornate 12-dollar holiday cards and sign it "thanks for a good year, here's to the next" and leave it at that.

Dec 19, 15 3:47 pm

I worked for an office that did "secret santa" - and the boss participated.  It was horrible. I hate gift-giving in an office setting.  It's always bad.  but If I am forced  to do it, people are getting something from my stockpile of "weird things I got in tokyo."


Only thing I think works is if you bring in cookies or something for everyone.

Dec 19, 15 4:53 pm

I think the best thing to do is to gift something that is in recognition of your bosses leadership maybe getting the folks at a community group that your firm sponsors to pose for one of those group photos in a nice frame or a cake or nice lunch shared with everyone but in the bosses honor for a good year.  Also nominate your boss or firm for AIA, ALA or chamber of commerce awards that sometimes means a lot to people that you would go through the trouble to honor their achievement.

Appreciation is the real gift and ways to express that are many.


Over and OUT
Peter N

Dec 19, 15 5:08 pm

I've been places where we all chipped in for a gift and places where one or two gave a gift - the latter was really uncomfortable for everyone involved.  A small gift for every one on the team (including the boss) can be a nice gesture (homemade cookies, jam, etc).  Anything nicer than a token gesture just seemed awkward and demanding to the younger staff.

Dec 19, 15 5:19 pm

The original poster didn't specify that the boss was male yet Kjdt and sameolddoctor both referred to the boss as a he. Thankfully Donna Sink came in and appropriately referred to this unknown boss as he/she and in so doing restored my faith in humanity and our profession. There are woman bosses folks! Ugh, architects can be so backwards sometimes......

Dec 19, 15 5:38 pm

^ "Men are pigs, too bad we own everything" - Tim Allen :):)

Dec 19, 15 5:54 pm

I'm pretty sure Tim Allen also said this, which I love: "Men are stupid, and women are crazy. But the reason women are crazy is that men are stupid."

Dec 19, 15 6:15 pm

If the boss is a she, that means she only makes $0.72 on the dollar.  So, then... might a gift actually be more appreciated?  The quandary never seems to end...

Dec 19, 15 6:18 pm

haruki, it's true it wasn't stated whether the boss is male or female - but I just can't imagine that mtdew's wife would think it's a good idea for him to give a female boss an expensive gift.  That seems even more awkward and open to misinterpretation than if the boss is a he.

Dec 19, 15 9:04 pm

Thanks for all the comments and making it clear that a singular holiday gift is unnecessary and not even a good idea. 

I won't attempt to organize a group gift since it will be a difficult task to get everyone to agree to a gift and cost. And not everyone might want to participate.

I like's non sequirtur's idea of leaving a bottle of liquor on the counter. 

The boss is actually a couple. Partners in work n life. They have been good to me so i wanted to show some appreciation. 

btw. what movie is the image of chevy chase from?

Dec 19, 15 9:18 pm

Honestly, mtdew, words go a long way. You could catch one or both of your bosses in private and just say the truth: "I enjoy working here, I appreciate that you've given me the opportunity to be here." One of the partners at the firm I worked for in Philly used to ALWAYS stop by the desk of all the team members who had just finished a charette just to say "I know how many hours you put in and I really appreciate it. Thank you." Just that simple straightforward acknowledgement is worth a million gifts.

Dec 21, 15 8:31 am
Non Sequitur

Bottle of booze c/w red bow (with the tails carefully arranged as to frame the label) positioned. Gift was well received as expected and my coffee is even more delicious that normal.

Dec 21, 15 9:47 am

Do you mean the person who is going to lay you off, not give you severance pay and short your last check?

Dec 21, 15 10:03 am
Non Sequitur


Dec 21, 15 10:08 am

^ Sorry, the Holidays make me crazy. I think gifts are for family and friends, for employers and co-workers a card saying Merry Christmas to you and your family should be enough.

Dec 21, 15 10:59 am
Non Sequitur

Depends on the size of the office and the relationships you have with your coworkers. Not everyone works in a paranoid-filled slave ship.

Dec 21, 15 11:11 am

Yeah, it can depend on the size of the office.  Back when I worked in a very small firm - it ranged from just 2 of us in some years to a max of 5 in others - we had an informal tradition of exchanging small gifts, including with the boss.  Really in that setting it would have been more awkward to exclude him.  The gifts were usually either books or food, or sometimes some iconic product of wherever we were from.  In larger firms I've never seen anyone give gifts to the boss, unless they're just part of the secret Santa list - and then there's usually been a $20 or $25 spending limit.

I find the whole workplace gift giving and associated etiquette awkward and wish most workplaces would just do something like say that in lieu of any inter-office gifting there will be a collection made for some deserving and uncontroversial local cause - donations completely optional. 

Years ago I had a boss who, while drunk at the office holiday party, criticized a thank you note/Christmas card that I'd written (in which I'd focused on thanking him for the great deal of time and patience he'd spent that year in teaching me a lot of the firm's operational procedures, and hadn't specifically made mention of the small bonus I'd received - for which I'd already thanked him in person).  Ever since I've avoided office holiday parties.

Dec 21, 15 12:48 pm

The place where we chipped in for a nice gift, one of us usually called the wife of the boss to get ideas - it's hard to get something they might like when they're usually buying everything they want.  The nicer ones were a netflix subscription when it was new, and a weekend spa retreat.  Main reason we did a gift was that the boss got us nice gifts in addition to the bonus and the office lunch was where we exchanged gifts -just us opening gifts was awkward-.  It was a small office so there was a bit of 'family' feel to the workplace.

Dec 21, 15 12:57 pm

geez.  just tell people you're offended when they say 'merry christmas.'  you don't need unwanted gifts from them any more than they need unwanted gifts from you.  easier to just be done with it.

Dec 21, 15 2:11 pm

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