May 10th, 2007

Present Pressure: Giving Your Boss a Gift without the Grief

by Jacqueline Whitmore

It’s tough enough finding the right birthday gift for your family and friends. But what do you do when the boss is turning the big “5-0” and everyone in the office wants to buy her a present? Buying the boss a gift can be fraught with pitfalls and peer pressure if you don’t know the proper protocol.

In a recent survey conducted by WorkPlace Media, 57 percent of working Americans plan to buy their boss a birthday present this year, with nearly one-fourth of those workers planning to spend $50 or more. The majority of these employees will spend less than $50, but 3 percent are planning on spending over $100.

I want to offer the following gift giving tips to help take the pressure off so you can be sure to give the right gift in the right way.

  1. If you’re short on cash, join with other coworkers to buy your boss a gift. Throughout the year, keep track of his or her likes, dislikes, interests, and hobbies. Tailor your gift to the taste and personality of your boss.
  2. If you work in a small office or know your boss well, it’s acceptable to give a smaller but personal gift on your own, like a gift card, book or CD.
  3. Beware of humorous or gag gifts. What you might think is cute or funny may be offensive or insulting to your boss and could quickly tarnish or even sabotage your business relationship.
  4. Buy a gift for his/her family or pet instead. If your boss has everything, it may be difficult to think of something original. However, a present for his or her children or pets may be more appreciated.
  5. Buy a birthday card. Although you’re not obligated to give a gift, a nice, personalized birthday card will speak volumes and will show that you care.
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