stakebait: (Ever_Upward)
[personal profile] stakebait
Hi Guys, this is my first holiday season as a boss and I am trying to figure out how to handle it, hoping a quick poll might help. For the gift choices, assume they're all worth about the same amount (and none of them huge).


[Poll #1945021]

Date: 2013-11-25 04:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
J has been a boss for many many many years. I think he gives small gifts of food (generally nice chocolate) to staff, but not the professionals who work for him, some time over the holidays and also when he returns from travel. Pretty much always chocolate, come to think of it.

I generally get nice chocolates for staff in our program for holidays and when they've done something super special for me. But *small* boxes of really nice chocolates...and I'm considered really weird for doing so. OTOH, I'm in academia where the rules are different.

Date: 2013-11-25 07:24 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-25 05:00 pm (UTC)
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)
From: [personal profile] kate_nepveu
I give holiday gifts to the support staff (my secretary and the administrative pool that does things like mail and copying). Chad gives a gift to the Physics department secretary. We don't get gifts from anyone.

I would say, if giving a gift, durable thing you specifically know they would like (my secretary really likes butterflies), then food, then a gift card. And on the holiday they celebrate.

Date: 2013-11-25 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! Sadly, we don't have support staff.

I have a much better sense of what one employee likes in terms of durable gifts than the other one. And with only two who work closely together (and with me) I think i am better off giving them the same thing rather than two different things, even of the same value, one of which might be more of a hit than the other.

Date: 2013-11-25 05:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Food or drink works fine if you know for sure someone's dietary restrictions. Otherwise, a gift card is more useable.

I'd feel awkward if my boss gave me a gift and not others on my immediate team, but if others not on my team didn't get gifts, I'd be fine. (I have a boss and a supervisor, and my boss is the supervisor of my supervisor, so it can get complicated.)

The one thing I would NOT do is give a holiday card and no gift. If you can't give gifts, don't give cards because then it emphasizes that you aren't giving gifts and people open the card hoping for a gift card inside and nothing but your signature and they're like "oh, how cheap." ;-)

Date: 2013-11-25 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That makes sense, and yeah, I'd give to everyone on my team, it's the other teams I was worried about.

Date: 2013-11-25 07:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
As long as other teams have other bosses, it'll be fine. (Whether or not those other bosses give gifts.) Most employees would expect a gift from their boss, but not from someone else's boss.

Although I expect gifts from everyone. But I'm five.

Date: 2013-11-25 08:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*grin* those other teams have other bosses. My concern was only, "easy for me to give my two whole employees a little something, if the woman who has 8 can't afford it am I now making her look bad."

Date: 2013-11-25 11:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think most grownups would understand and not be petty about it, as long as you aren't giving your two employees $100 gift cards or something.

Date: 2013-11-26 01:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That makes sense and alas, no, I can't afford that much. Probably max of $20 each.

Date: 2013-11-25 05:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
In particular, a boss who gives alcohol as a gift will make me very cranky, and I might refuse it to their face.

Date: 2013-11-25 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, I know both of my employees drink alcohol, but our big boss already gives a bottle of wine to each employee, so I don't want to duplicate that.

Date: 2013-11-25 06:21 pm (UTC)
redbird: purple trilobite (purple trilobite)
From: [personal profile] redbird
Food is nice if you're reasonably sure that the person likes it; one year at my last job, we wound up with extra chocolates because a well-meaning vendor had sent some to my boss, who couldn't have them for health reasons.

I checked "gift card," but that was on the theory that it's the closest to giving someone a cash bonus; a gift card for a specific store (such as Starbucks) is less flexible. (A friend of mine got a Starbucks card for something or other and wound up posting to offer it to anyone she knew who actually buys anything there, because she doesn't.)

Date: 2013-11-25 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks, that makes sense.

Date: 2013-11-25 06:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I would say if you know what holiday(s) an employee celebrates, because they've brought it up voluntarily, give a gift on the holiday they celebrate. If you don't, I would find it less weird/intrusive to give a gift on the holiday you celebrate than to ask them when they prefer to receive presents.

Date: 2013-11-25 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Fortunately I have only two and I am pretty sure they both celebrate Christmas.

Date: 2013-11-25 06:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Interesting poll. Hope you figure out the best gift.

I prefer to receive a gift card. The best is something like Amex where it isn't tied to a specific store.

My boss has been all over the map throughout the years.

Last year I got an Amex gift card. Two years ago was a gift card to Eatery. I hadn't used it until a week ago because it is so far away from my office that I hadn't had time to get there.

For a while she was giving me kitchen items because her husband runs/ran a high end kitchen supply place. I found them annoying as they weren't things I wanted nor were they able to be exchanged. Some I regifted. But some I threw out in my last move & felt bad as they were high end items. But totally useless for anyone not in a huge house on LI (like her and most of the higher ups in my company.)

I have gotten food stuff from vendors I dealt with. That is nice for some people and others hate it. With the vendors, 9 times out of 10, they get put out for the department to eat. The assistants swarm & they are gone in about 20 minutes. *laugh*

The best thing my boss ever did was tell me to please *not* get her a present. Every year I tried to find something special, spending time & often more than I could afford. Best present was when she told me that and I haven't stressed giving her a present since then.

I think that each boss is different and you shouldn't stress it if others don't do it. I know your company is way smaller than mine. But I really think people understand that each department is different. So unless it is company policy not to give presents, I would do it if you want to.

And as far as timing, I would say any time is fine. My boss & the others in the department tend to wait until the last day before the break. Especially when Hanukkah & Christmas are so far apart, it is harder to gauge a good time. But if you are giving, I would strongly suggest giving to everyone you plan to on the same day or within a couple days. Obviously, if people are traveling or taking off time for the end of the year, you may want to alter that.

Good luck Boss Lady!

Date: 2013-11-25 08:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! That makes a lot of sense. We don't really have a break, so I can pick a day or do it around our holiday party.

Date: 2013-11-25 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Glad it helps.

Forgot to mention, I did give my assistant a present when I had one. But it was very informal. And I told him he didn't need to get me one. It was something small. I tried to find things that worked but I confess that at least once it was the ubiquitous candle. *groan*

Date: 2013-11-26 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heh. Boy do I know from ubiquitous candles. :)

I was considering these:

with our pub's call number on them, but considering the consensus here I think I will go less cutesy and more useful with a gift card.

Date: 2013-11-26 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Those are really fun. And I can see that being great at your company. I am a bit torn now. *smile* It is an awesome idea. And I love Etsy stuff.

Date: 2013-11-27 04:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I found a possible compromise, some Etsy Christmas cards with a similar theme that I could put the more functional gift card inside.

Date: 2013-11-25 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The only really memorable holiday boss gift I ever got was an engraved iPod shuffle, from my good boss/bad boss duo at my last publishing job. They were the owners, though, and there were only about 8 people in the company including them. :-) I personally think gift cards are awesome. But then, I consume a fair quantity of Starbucks...

Date: 2013-11-25 07:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! There's a new place downstairs in our building that we're all still in the honeymoon phase with; if they sell gift cards I will probably do that.

Date: 2013-11-25 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
NRE = New Refreshments Energy? :-)

Date: 2013-11-25 08:40 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-25 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For me, by far, the best gift cards are the visa/Amex/whatever cc gift cards, largely because it doesn't narrow me down o a shop. If that's too tacky for the gifter, then an amazon gift card probably works too because amazon sells just about everything...

Date: 2013-11-25 08:41 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-25 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It may be my profession, but I've never received a holiday gift, nor would I expect one. If it were anything other than a small gift of snacks, I'd feel super-awkward and compelled to get them something.

The only time I remember getting a holiday gift was when I was an admin at a Harvard Med School business office. That was a really nice Henry & David gift basket, and I was floored.

So, yeah - not so helpful, but maybe asking what the company culture usually supports is the best answer?

Date: 2013-11-26 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks! That is helpful, though early answers seem a bit inconclusive. "Something small is nice but not necessary" seems to be the nearest to a consensus, so I'll probably do that, plus a food treat for the whole office, which is definitely part of the culture

Date: 2013-11-26 02:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think that the big food treat for the office is a great idea, that way each person can partake to their own enjoyment.

I totally agree with "nice and not necessary." I've discovered over the years that gifts are totally not a Love Language for me. Or, they are, but only as a representation of how well the person knows me and thinks of me. Giving a gift "because" of a holiday - never my thing, so perforce holiday gift giving in the office feels insincere to me. But that's totally a me thing, and other people work in very different ways.

Date: 2013-11-27 04:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hopefully the Big Food Treat will be a box of clementines... I've discovered that while all treats are appreciated and devoured, there is a surprisingly passionate response to healthier snacks, perhaps because people are grateful not to have to resist them or feel bad about not doing so?

Interesting, gifts are definitely a love language for me. Not the highest priority by a long shot -- that's quality time, followed by touch and words -- but well above acts of service.

I agree that "how well you know me and think of me" is definitely one of the most important things about gift giving and receiving to me, but I don't mind it being because of a holiday, it's more about whether the gift was well chosen than what the occasion was. And also about giving and getting things that are nice but not necessary themselves... the kind of indulgence one enjoys but would not prioritize in one's own budget. That is not exactly a love language thing, but it is partly what I value about holiday gifts and would miss.

In the case of my employees, I want them to feel valued and appreciated (as indeed they are; they rock hard) but I also need to keep things professional and even-handed, so surprising them with gifts that are extremely tailored to their individual interests and not tied to a particular occasion the way I might with an outside of work friend could even be creepy, especially since they're both men and I'm a single woman. (We're more likely to do that with snagging books out of the freebies for each other if they're Relevant to your coworkers Interests). I am also concerned about what message letting a traditional gifting holiday go by without a present would send, and I have no idea whether gifts are important to either of them.

Not appropos of the workplace, but re: love languages, if I'm opting to give a LOT of gifts in a romantic relationship -- or buy a lot of things they've expressed interest in my having, whether or not they are called gifts and sent home with them -- it is usually a sign that I am more invested in making them happy than I am convinced that more of me will make them so, so I'm falling back on more impersonal ways to add value. I may not be sure you want more me, but I'm sure you want this thing. IMO that's pretty functional in the early stages of figuring things out; less so once established.

Date: 2013-11-26 01:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think it very much depends on the industry and the size of the shop. Since I've never worked in your industry and only for one year in anything remotely related, I don't think you should rely on y experience or anyone without experience more relevant to your situation.

Date: 2013-11-27 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My experience within this industry has been sufficiently varied that I'm not sure industry is a determining factor. At least, there may be industries which have a standard practice; this does not appear to be one of them.

Date: 2013-11-26 03:16 am (UTC)
siderea: (The Charmer)
From: [personal profile] siderea
I'm watching this thread with curiosity, because I have no idea what to feel about the topic.

In my previous place of employment (education non-profit), friends gave gifts to friends if so moved, and that was it.

In my present place of employment (MH/SA clinic) I figured out right quick that the giving of gifts was a sign of superiority in the organization hierarchy. That is, gift-giving exclusively ran from superiors to subordinates. This was handy to figure out because it gave me a subtle, decorous, and acceptable way to assert my place in the organizational hierarchy. And by "figure out" I mean "my boss all but instructed me to do it". Worked great.

Holiday gifts at the clinic are given on the last work day before the Christmas holiday, not least because if they are money, they might most benefit the recipient if they can be used for Christmas/New Years expenditures.

One year, my boss (the clinic director) gave all us grunt-level clinicians $100 gift cards to a grocery store. It was much appreciated, but I'd have appreciated it more if it had been an AmEx or Visa card of the same amount. The grocery store she picked was one of the worst values for the money and least convenient for me to get to.

ETA: I will say that I feel that gifts from a superior at work are very different than gifts between friends. They're like a bonus: they're a sign of appreciation of one's work/loyalty. As such they are not to be reciprocated. Also see
Edited Date: 2013-11-26 03:22 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-27 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

BTW, a non-LJ friend who emailed their answer works in a high powered legal office which seems to operate much as you describe in terms of " gift-giving exclusively ran from superiors to subordinates" with a tiered structure based on how directly the person works for your and what their rank is.

Date: 2013-11-29 02:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Around my father's lab it seems to go he gets each of the people who work for him something small, but nice (often food/candy.) They all pitch in to get him one thing, so individually they spend less on the gift(s) than he does. (Mostly the gifts to him end up being gift cards, largely because my mother and I have a hard enough time finding things to get him, that finding things for other people to get him is an occasion for flailing.)

But it also sounds like he supervises more people than you do, so the economics of it aren't quite the same.

Date: 2013-11-26 07:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I took my minion to see Wicked back when I was an AVP (I was gifted 2 tickets for the holidays and I knew she was dying to see it but couldn't afford it - we were in the 5th row which was awesome!) but otherwise I have gotten gifts ranging in price from a $50 AMEX card to a $400 bottle of whiskey (but that one was also a happy birthday/please don't quit" gift too!).

Value seems to depend on how much unpaid overtime I put in that year! :)

Date: 2013-11-27 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heh. Fair. And thanks!

Date: 2013-11-26 05:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I tend to send a large gift basket with a variety of food types, because some of my team are health conscious and some of them will turn up their noses at health food. They tend to split the basket up and take the items home sealed, which keeps them from snacking/grazing in the office, as they've all made it clear that none of them want to do that. This makes it reasonably easy for me to gift the whole team without someone feeling left out.

The other hitch is of course, my team are remote, and while I have generally met all of them, membership does change over time, so food allergies could be an issue. I do try to send something really diverse, so that a person who has, say, a fish allergy can instead take the nice crackers or chocolate and avoid their allergen.

Date: 2013-11-27 03:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

Date: 2013-11-27 04:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
BTW to the folks who suggested a bonus/raise, I totally agree with you, but that's outside my control. This poll is for what I can take out of my personal paycheck to do for my direct reports; what the company does is up to HR and the CEO and folks like that.
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