10 Gifts for Your Boss


Buying the right present for your boss might just be one of the hardest parts of gift-giving. Then again, it could also be well worth the effort since a thoughtful and tasteful gift can certainly improve your standing and even help you develop a good friendship with your boss. (See also: How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Work From Home)

For that to happen, the gift you get your boss needs to adhere a few guidelines.

  1. Be economically appropriate. Don't go too expensive, but don't cheap out either. Both extremes could cause the entire gift-giving process to be awkward, or worse.
  2. Skew practical instead of personal. Everyone's relationship with their boss is different, but generally speaking, a personal gift isn't always a good idea. Focus on the working aspect of your relationship and keep the gift somewhat practical.
  3. Make it an "appreciative" gift. A good way to avoid seeming like a kiss-up is to give your boss a gift in the spirit of, "Hey, I appreciate you giving me a job and signing my paycheck." Make it more about your boss and less about yourself.

With these guidelines in mind, I've put together a list of "boss friendly" gifts that you can give during the holidays, for your boss's birthday, and especially on Boss Appreciation Day.

After all, bosses are people too.

1. Homemade Salsa in a Mason Jar

Homemade salsa is easy and makes for a refreshing alternative to the store-bought stuff. The ingredients list is pretty basic so the salsa itself doesn't take long to make, and chances are you have everything you need already in your pantry and kitchen.

Once you've mixed some up, put it in a mason jar, add your own decorative twine and tag, and leave it on your boss's desk with a bag of chips. (See also: Where to Find Free or Cheap Mason Jars)

2. Buy His or Her GPS Update

If your boss is like most, they probably do a lot of traveling and, with such a busy schedule, haven't found time to update their GPS.

Usually having an outdated GPS is pretty forgiving, but every once-in-a-while it seems like there can be a bit of a mix-up if you end up on a road that wasn't there in 2009. The updates for most usually cost somewhere in the $20-$40 range, so take care of it for your boss and leave the device on their desk with an appreciative message.

You might have to get a little creative about how you present it, but your boss will definitely appreciate the thoughtfulness and practicality of this gift. (See also: 25 Useful Gifts)

3. Take Your Boss Out to Lunch

Once again, this depends on the type of relationship that you have with your boss, but if this makes sense in your situation, your boss might really enjoy a simple lunch that they don't have to pay for.

Most good bosses also enjoy taking time to get to know their employees better, so it can be a win-win for both of you, giving you a chance to build a better connection. Try to target a restaurant that you know your boss likes, but that they probably don't get to go to very often.

4. A Plate of Cookies

It's simple, but who doesn't enjoy a plate of their favorite cookies?

If you don't know what kind of cookies your boss likes and if you have no reasonable way of finding out, play the odds and go with chocolate chip or just sugar cookies. It's similar to the salsa approach, with a bit of a personal touch while not overdoing it.

Being able to enjoy them at a desk makes this an even better option.

5. A Donation in Their Name

If your boss is active in a particular charity or their alma mater, making a donation in their name can be a great way to gift and pay respects to your boss. It'll take some foreknowledge on your part, so this might not work for everyone, especially if you're not sure if this is an area where your boss is active.

6. Specialized Tea or Coffee

There are probably few people in your life who would enjoy a warm cup of tea or coffee more than your boss.

If you think far enough ahead, pick up a unique blend or roast when you're out of town; something that you can't get locally. It'll make a great office-friendly gift, and your boss will know that it wasn't a last minute thing. If you can't find something with a local flare, you can find lots of great organic and specialized tea and coffee blends online. (See also: The 10 Best Online Tea Merchants)

7. Tickets to a Sporting Event or Theater Performance

It's not hard to track down your boss's favorite sports team in casual conversation, so a couple tickets to the game is a good gift that doesn't cross the too-personal line.

If your boss isn't much of a sports fan, you can opt for a theater performance or whatever event you think they would enjoy more. There's just something simple and appreciative about handing someone a couple tickets.

8. A Coffee Mug

It's a bit of a fall back, but you can't go wrong with a coffee mug for your boss.

Sure, they probably already have a few, but a new mug with a fresh and interesting design is still a great gift that your boss will get a lot of use and enjoyment out of. Consider something along the line of their favorite sports team or something comical that relates to their line of work.

9. iTunes Gift Card

There are relatively few working professionals who don't own an iPhone or some kind of smartphone. If your boss has one, picking up a $25 iTunes gift card (or Google Play gift card if they have an Android phone) will allow them to buy some apps for fun, productivity, or a little bit of both.

That lets your boss make the call as to whether they want to buy something fun or something more practical for the business side of things.

All you've got to do is pick up the card and write a nice note.

10. An Engraved Flask, Pen, or Other Gift Item

This is something you could consider going in for as a group of employees. While it doesn't necessarily have to be a flask or a pen, think in terms of what might look good on or around your boss's desk.

Getting it engraved with your boss's name will add a personal touch and give the object more of a professional feel and significance.

Consider Personality

All these gifts fit into the criteria that we mentioned at the beginning, doing a fairly good job of keeping a balance between personal and professional. You should consider your boss's interest and personality as much as possible, which can change the way you approach almost all of these gifts. A boss can be tough to buy for, but done right, it'll only improve your relationship. That alone makes it worth the effort.

What's the best gift you've ever given a boss?

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Guest's picture

I don't want my employees to give me a gift. They work hard for their money. They shouldn't spend it on me.

Guest's picture

Thank you for this! I don't believe in gift-giving in the workplace, period, but I think that giving one's boss a gift is ludicrous--you are giving back money, essentially, to the person who just gave you money (granted, I've worked for very small companies for the last six out of ten years, and the last one was failing--the boss put her personal funds into the business, so it was literally *her money* with which she was paying me!).

Guest's picture

These are some good tips, especially the one about making a donation in the name of your boss - you need not donate much (because it's more about the thought than the amount) and you can't be considered a 'suck-up' because you're not actually giving your boss anything.

I also like the idea of bring them a plate of homemade cookies - it's a semi-personal gift and others in the office benefit from your deed too.