is it appropriate to give your boss a gift?
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Boss Gift Giving 101: Is It Appropriate to Give Your Boss a Gift?

Do you want to show your boss appreciation for being a good leader? Do you wish to give your boss a gift to express appreciation for him or her? Before you do, is it appropriate to give your boss a gift?

If someone helped you or was kind to you, it’s proper to thank them and be appreciative of them. One of the best ways to show them that you feel this way is to give gifts. However, the situation can feel muddy and inappropriate if the subject is your boss.

Below, we’ll talk about the act of giving gifts to your boss or superior. We’ll also show you how to give gifts in the office without it seeming inappropriate. Keep reading to learn more about gift-giving in an office environment.

1. Is it Appropriate to Give Your Boss a Gift?

People give gifts to establish or re-confirm their connection with others. Often, the gifts people give are reflections of the giver, the receiver, and their relationship. Gift-giving can also be a sign that a person wants to create a bond with another person.

The ideal reason behind gift-giving is to help others without expectations of reciprocation. However, a more practical look at gift-giving is to create a “debt-balance.” This is the cycle of repaying the gift with something of equal value.

Before we go further, let’s answer the question of is it appropriate to give your boss a gift. A lot of people try to avoid giving gifts to their bosses. Gift-giving between peers or colleagues is often more accepted.

The reason behind this is that giving your boss gifts can look like “sucking up” to your boss or wishing to get a raise. It’s seen as making an unfair move that will put you in a superior’s good graces. Doing this can also create a rift in your relationship with your co-workers.

However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot give gifts to your boss. There are times when it is appropriate to give gifts to a superior. Likewise, there aren’t requirements to give gifts to your boss for any reason or occasion.

2. When to Give Your Boss a Gift

Gift-giving varies depending on the office culture and etiquette for giving gifts. However, there are a few times in the year when giving gifts is appropriate and expected even. The most obvious reason is when your boss celebrates his or her birthday.

The winter holidays are also a typical time to give gifts to everyone, including your boss. This is especially true when it comes to giving office Secret Santa gifts. If your boss is your Secret Santa, there’s no reason not to give a gift.

If your office holds a New Years’ Day party and everyone treats it like a Christmas party, gifts may be in order too. Going-away parties and milestone parties are also common events when giving a gift is appropriate. If the office decides to celebrate National Boss’s Day on October 16, create or give a gift.

Boss-related parties where gift-giving is the norm is often a safe time to give gifts to your boss. For specific times when you can gift your boss a gift, do it when you’re handing out gifts for everyone. You can also do it during times when everyone is doing it.

All other times may be inappropriate times to give gifts to your boss. However, as we said, this may depend on the office culture. Check your company policy on gift-giving and your relationship with your boss.

3. What to Avoid in Gift-Giving

Avoid giving gifts that are inappropriate in a professional environment. Even if you have a close bond with your boss, you want to avoid items that you won’t otherwise give to a different boss. You also want to avoid gifts that others may see as a bribe.

With that said, never give the boss cash for gifts. This can look bad. Instead, try a gift basket or a conventional office gift like a mug.

Never give cheap gifts. Try to get a gift that has a reasonable price. Take a look at how much you take home per year and use that as a basis. If you get a $20 gift when you make $150,000 a year, you’ll look cheapskate.

Also, you may want to avoid giving gifts to your boss that you created by yourself. Unless you also made one for everyone else, then it may be apt to give one to the boss.

Be careful about giving “gag gifts.” Some may seem funny at the time of buying, but not at the moment of reception. You also want to make sure that your boss has the same sense of humor and won’t feel disrespected with the gift.

4. What Makes a Good Gift for Your Boss?

It can be distressing to find the perfect gift for your boss. Often, people try to get typical gift items for their bosses like neckties, socks, or towels. While these are useful items indeed, they’re appreciated as often anymore.

As much as possible, stay professional and give an appropriate gift. If possible, add in a bit of personalization to your gift. For example, a baseball glove or a golf club makes a great gift for bosses who play the sport.

Remember that gifts can hold meaning. Add to the fact that there is a power dynamic at play. That means you need to be careful with what you give to the person who gives you work and your pay. If you can, get your boss a gift that holds meaning during this pandemic.

Some solid examples of the best gifts for your boss include:

  • A gift basket or gift set
  • Sports jersey or sports equipment
  • Tea drinker
  • Box of fine chocolates
  • Small desk items (frame or pen holder)
  • Bottle of wine or bourbon

Again, refer to your boss’s interests and workplace etiquette whenever you’re deciding what to give.

Another good rule of thumb is to give something that you’re also willing to give everyone else. Getting your boss an expensive watch can seem like sucking up. Unless you’re giving everyone else the same item, then that should be fine.

Give the Appropriate Gifts

That ends our guide on gift-giving in the office. We hope this guide answered the question of is it appropriate to give your boss a gift?

Did you enjoy reading this office gift-giving guide? If you want to see more content like this, you can read our other posts. If you have queries, let us know.

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