Bethlehem Press

Monday, July 13, 2020

Respectfully Yours: Holiday gift for boss not a good idea

Friday, December 6, 2019 by JACQUELYN YOUST Special to The Press in Focus

Dear Jacquelyn,

Should I get my boss a Christmas gift? I would like to acknowledge and show appreciation, but I’m not sure if this is a good idea. Should I skip it altogether?

Dear Reader,

Etiquette is actually quite clear on giving gifts to the boss.

Traditionally, gifts in a workplace should flow downward, not upward. In other words, it’s fine for your boss to give you a gift, but you shouldn’t give gifts to your managers.

This tricky subject does come with some gray areas, and many employees like you are pondering what to do this holiday season. If you’re unsure of protocol, consider asking your colleagues to see if gift-giving is the norm.

If you work at a large company, it’s important to find out what the policies are. If nobody in your department gives the boss a gift you probably shouldn’t do it.

At some smaller companies, it’s traditional to give the boss a group gift. If that’s the case, then you should go along with the group rather than going it alone.

If giving an individual gift would not be out of the ordinary, it’s fine to do so. You want the gift to come across as sincere, something you did because you want to say “Thanks.”

Consider a gift that is meaningful but not expensive. It can be as simple as a small gift card to someplace you know your boss enjoys going.

You should also be discreet in delivering the gift. You don’t want to embarrass your coworkers who chose not to get anything for the boss.

Still unsure of what to do?

While it seems small, giving a nice card expressing your good wishes will be appreciated. It’s even better when you include all your coworkers and have them sign the card, too.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved © 2019 Jacquelyn Youst