Some people just have a knack for giving gifts. They somehow know exactly what to buy for almost any occasion and manage to make it thoughtful, personal, and totally fitting for the recipient — that is, of course, until it comes to a boss.
Even the most gifted of gift-givers can find it a challenge to buy something for a superior. The last thing you want to do is to spend too little and risk coming off as cheap, but you also don’t want to empty the bank and look like the office kiss-up.
With National Boss’s Day coming up on October 16th, you’ve got a decision to make. Embrace the day for what it is and show some leadership appreciation, or ignore it altogether and treat it like any other Monday.
If you do choose to go the gift route, we recommend you consider the following:
1. Make it a team effort.
There’s etiquette to gift giving in the workplace, especially when that gift is for a boss. You always want to consider giving a group gift before buying one on your own. Email coworkers to see whether anyone is coordinating anything for the occasion. If not, feel free to take it upon yourself to plan something. And keep the costs low, so everyone has an opportunity to participate.
2. Tailor it to the person.
Not everyone feels comfortable being thanked in the same way. So, take the time to determine if your demonstration of appreciation is wholly suitable for your boss. He or she may feel self-conscious being celebrated in the middle of a meeting. Always choose the most appropriate way to recognize a superior — or any other colleague, for that matter — before setting anything in stone.
3. Keep it simple.
Regardless of how close you feel to a boss, you still report to that person, and that often comes with some boundaries. When giving gifts, don’t get too personal. You always want the recipient to feel comfortable, not obligated to return the favor. Keep gifts simple, sincere, and inexpensive. Even if that gift is coming from a group, it should never be extravagant.
4. Go for unique.
No one needs a mug declaring they’re the “World’s Greatest Boss,” unless it’s given in jest — and to someone with a good sense of humor. Then, getting cheeky could be totally appropriate for the occasion. Otherwise, choose something unique, like a thoughtful book, a decision maker paperweight, or even a donation in his or her name. But still keep it simple, sincere, and inexpensive.
5. Use discretion.
If you do plan on giving a gift on your own, be discrete about it. Set aside a time when you can deliver it privately. Making a real show of it can alienate your coworkers and cloud a deserved promotion with needless gossip. Consider dropping it off early in the morning before the team hits the work floor. If the two of you are friends, then don’t bother even bringing it to work. Just arrange a time for the exchange.
6. Put it in writing.
Sure, you can buy a card to mark the occasion, but a handwritten note is often much more appreciated. It shows you’ve taken the time to acknowledge the person’s contributions. But rather than just jotting down, “Thanks for all you do,” get down to the specifics. If, for example, your boss has been a real mentor, write a note of thanks for his or her help in your career development. Now’s the day to do it.
7. Go with your gut.
Let’s be honest, National Boss’s Day is a made-up holiday, created back in 1958 by someone working for a parent. In other words, there’s no need for a tickertape parade. You can show your appreciation with something as simple as a cupcake or cup of coffee.
The bottom line with giving gifts is to always make it about the recipient, not the giver. When you give a gift with the right intent, it’ll be much better received — from a boss or anyone on your list.