Dear Kate: Am I supposed to buy a holiday gift for my boss?

Dear-Kate-column-identityBy Katharine Luckinbill

Dear Kate,

With the holidays upon us I am getting all of my Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa gifts checked off and bought for my friends and family – but what about my boss at work? Am I supposed to even get my boss a gift, and if so – what do you get your boss?

Needing some Holiday Help,



Dear In Need of Holiday Help Holly,

Surprisingly enough, the general consensus is that you should not buy your boss a present for the holidays. For two major reasons:

  1. You do not want to appear as if you are trying to “buy” your way into their good graces
  2. You should only buy presents for people who are below you in title to say thanks for their hard work and help. Buying a gift for your supervisor can be viewed as inappropriate.


Check out this informational article from The Washington Post about holiday work etiquette.

However, if you are particularly close with your boss, or you feel like he or she has gone out of their way to be a great supervisor this year, then I would say something small and heartfelt would be okay.

Check out this article from Forbes for some ideas.

If a purchased present isn’t really in the wallet cards this year, try baking some cookies or some kind of sweet festive treat.

See here for some great and easy recipes such as the one you see in the picture here:


Or if you don’t have that kind of kitchen knack, buy some inexpensive but nice-looking sweets and include a handwritten note to say thanks and happy holidays.

The main point is that you definitely do not have to go out of your way, or off your budget, to buy something for your supervisor if you don’t feel automatically compelled to.

I am, however, taking bribes in the form of peppermint bark this year, and/or Grumpy Cat. Thanks in advance.

grumpy cat grinch

Happy Holidays!


Dear Kate is a column that runs on every other Thursday at noon. It is written by the wise Katharine Luckinbill, who you should follow on Twitter. Got a life, friendship, family, dating, or relationship question that you’d like Dear Kate to answer? Send it to and she will help you out!

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2 thoughts on “Dear Kate: Am I supposed to buy a holiday gift for my boss?

  1. Kate McAleer says:

    Very well thought out. Who knows where this will go now that Pauline Phillips aka Abigail Van Buren (Dear Abby) has gone to the other side at the age of 94. Hugs.

  2. Hello, the whole thing is going finme here and ofcourse every one is sharing data,
    that’s actually good, keep uup writing.

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