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Should you give a Christmas gift to your boss?

Should you give a Christmas gift to your boss?
/ Reggie Casagrande / The Image Bank / Getty Images

It's the age-old question: Should you buy your boss a gift for Christmas?

If you have a great boss who you enjoy working with and who is someone you admire, you might want to give them a gift for Christmas. But before you swipe your credit card for that special item, you might want to stop and consider the pros and cons of buying them a present.

We all know gift-giving strengthens relationships. If done right, it's a positive move but if it is done wrong, it can result in problems moving forward.

It’s important to remember that business etiquette rules do not require you, or any worker, to give a gift to your boss for any occasion. In fact, giving a gift when it's not necessary can lead to several issues down the road. The last thing you want is for your coworkers to think you’re trying to buy your way into your boss’s good graces. And giving an inappropriate gift to your boss could make your boss feel uncomfortable.

The bottom line is, buying your boss a gift for Christmas can be stressful but if you insist on doing so, you might want to first check out these tips on gift-giving at work.

Tips for giving your boss a gift

Is gift-giving at work something that has been done before?

Ask about the gift-giving tradition at your workplace. Is it something your coworkers have done in the past?

Consider salaries

Employees obviously earn less than their employers, and you don’t pressure your colleagues into thinking that they need to buy a gift too, especially if they can’t afford to. Just because you might be able to spend money on your manager doesn’t mean your coworkers can.  

Consider a Group Gift First

For birthdays and holidays, you should first consider giving a group gift instead of buying a gift that is just from you. A group gift takes the pressure away from both you and your coworkers. You won’t have to worry if you're on a tight budget and nobody else will feel the added pressure of buying a gift that is equally expensive.

Label it a group gift and avoid naming who participated and who didn’t

If your boss gets a group gift from everyone in the department and someone doesn't chip in, it will reflect poorly on them. Again, not everyone will agree that getting the boss a gift is necessary, but you should never mention who pitched in and who opted not to.

Is there a special reason to give a gift to your boss?

Giving a small gift can be appropriate if you have a particular reason to thank your boss. Maybe your boss went out of their way to do something nice for you, but regardless of what that was, don’t buy a gift that is too personal to show around the office.

It’s better to make something than spend money

It’s always a good idea to consider making something for your boss and/or co-workers, rather than spending money buying a gift.

Don't try too hard to impress anyone

Keep the gift simple and relatively inexpensive.

Stay away from giving personal items such as perfume or cologne. As a rule, Expensive gifts are always better given (and received) when coming from a group.

Never Give Cash as a Gift

Cash gifts send the message that you either didn’t want to spend the time looking for the right gift or you procrastinated and left it to the last minute. A gift card is appropriate to give to your boss, but you should still put in some effort to make it something unique, fun, or useful.


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