What would you like your boss to get you this Christmas?
November 26, 2009 5:59 PM   Subscribe

If you were offered a 500 dollar gift from your boss, what would you ask for?

My husband just got told from his boss that he wants to give all the managers a Christmas gift of around 500 dollars. The boss said he wanted to stay away from the sort of things he’d given in the past, like wine baskets and such, and instead wants to give the managers something they’ll like and use, maybe something gadgety. My husband’s one of the managers, so his own wishes are messing up with the list of options to give his boss.

MeFis, if this were you, what’d you like to get? (Most of the managers are between 30 and 45, and male.)
posted by CrazyLemonade to Work & Money (51 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by decathecting at 6:03 PM on November 26, 2009 [4 favorites]

Tivo HDXL.
posted by ColdChef at 6:05 PM on November 26, 2009

Oh yeah, forgot to say, cash is not an option.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 6:06 PM on November 26, 2009

If not cash, then a $500 voucher for a trip for two somewhere. Baring that, a couple nights in a hotel, preferably a chain, so the person could travel on their own and have accommodations provided.

However, if the boss is a jackass and wants to buy a device that the managers will find useful in their work, then it would help to know what kind of work they do.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:10 PM on November 26, 2009

Xbox, or Playstation 3, or tricked-out iPod Touch with a big-ass iTunes gift voucher.
posted by jbickers at 6:19 PM on November 26, 2009

Gift Card to somewhere that sells gadgets? Best Buy?

Failing that, maybe a netbook? Bedroom-sized TV? 64 GB iPhone touch? I like the idea of buying a couple nights hotel stay, too.
posted by cgg at 6:22 PM on November 26, 2009

If it's a gadget, how about an iPod Touch or Nano and gift certificates to iTunes/Amazon/some other MP3 repository. Since the models change about every year, chances are the new iPod will be appreciated.

The Tivo might not be a good idea because it requires service, unless he can work it out so that they come with lifetime service. Otherwise, it's a fixed expense, one they may not want to take on if they're under contract with their current cable plan. A refurbished Tivo HD with Lifetime service comes in at $600, but you could go for one year of service at $328 instead, which may be a good idea.

Netbooks also are a good idea. $500 can buy a nice one, and they'd be useful for professionals, especially if they travel a lot and want something lighter than a laptop. A netbook also sends the message more clearly that it's meant for personal use rather than as a way to do more business from home. This one, from HP, looks like a good option. It has the Nvidia Ion chipset, so it's fairly recent and has a much better GPU than other models. This means it's better for video playback/conversion and basic games.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:22 PM on November 26, 2009

*iPod* touch, of course. D'oh.
posted by cgg at 6:23 PM on November 26, 2009

In similar situations (boss giving nice gift to employees), I've seen iPod Touches and digital cameras given.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 6:23 PM on November 26, 2009

No cash? That's a shitty way to give a business gift there, boss.

Failing that, are gift cards an option? Electronics are only useful if the thing they represent -- movies, video games, photography, etc. -- are enjoyed by their recipients. Otherwise, a certificate for a nice restaurant and a night in a nearby hotel is a pleasant "escape" option for the managers.
posted by ellF at 6:30 PM on November 26, 2009

Managers are in real-estate development, but it's not relevant, gifts/gadgets that can be used during personal time would probably be more appreciated. We're in Mexico, so Gift Cards probably won't work. (It is possible, though, to order things online, say, from Amazon, and bring them back.)

Thanks for the answers so far, keep'em coming!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 6:31 PM on November 26, 2009

Gift cert to the best, most out of reach restaurant in town. I got that once, wouldn't have asked for it or bought the dinner myself but used and absolutely loved it!
posted by jamesonandwater at 6:35 PM on November 26, 2009

If it's a gift, it shouldn't be something that the recipient already has. That's why iPods and cameras and their ilk are a bad idea -- chances are, a person receiving a $500 gift already has an iPod/camera of their own.

You should try to get something that they'll appreciate but most likely won't spend their own money on. What about an upscale espresso machine? Or a packaged themed trip, such as a fishing trip, canoeing trip, skydiving trip, etc. etc. that they can choose from. Or a gift card to a very nice restaurant.
posted by suedehead at 6:37 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

How about a personal chef / entree delivery service, or a personal trainer or fancy gym membership / class?
posted by amtho at 6:54 PM on November 26, 2009

Nice camera.
posted by kylej at 6:56 PM on November 26, 2009

How about a dinner out at a nice restaurant?
posted by biochemist at 7:12 PM on November 26, 2009

I just read all the answers out loud to my husband. He said his boss would never give a gift certificate as a gift. It's a little too impersonal, and there are only seven managers which he works with closely. So far the upscale espresso machine sounds like a good idea, something that probably no one has yet, well we do, although not as upscale.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:13 PM on November 26, 2009

I just bought myself a Nokia n900 (around 500 USD) but I donno how well that matches your own needs, wants and local cellular environment. But as people point out, the utility of a gift depends in part on your own specific situation as well. A first ipod is great, a second one is ... not so great.

Gifts are hard to pull off because the buyer doesn't know what will benefit the person the most. Some economists argue that there's a lot of "dead weight loss" in such a system, and that giving cash would be more efficient. I'm guessing cash is out to avoid tax law. In which case, something with a high auction value?
posted by pwnguin at 7:15 PM on November 26, 2009

Kitchenaid Artistan stand mixer, with all the fancy attachments. Or if you already have one, some kind of Williams and Sonoma explosion. Fancy, more fancy, and with lots of dials. Expresso maker, fryer, mixer, processor, whatever is the shiniest. And some awesome knives to go with it.
posted by Tesseractive at 7:19 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

A really nice handbag or briefcase.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:20 PM on November 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Me, I'd ask for a new timing belt.
posted by pompomtom at 7:25 PM on November 26, 2009 [7 favorites]

DSLR Lense
posted by sanka at 7:31 PM on November 26, 2009

pompomtom - I just laughed hysterically because I just said the same thing to my husband.

For some reason, this is a hard question to answer because everything I would "want" are things like a new timing belt or a fridge full of groceries.

Maybe a flat screen tv? I've seen some decent ones for around that range. Nothing fancy or huge . . . but still a flat screen.

Is the boss looking to buy different and separate gifts for each manager or is he planning on getting the same gift (espresso machine) for everyone? I might try to convince the boss to ask each manager what he wants and then get that for him. It would take into account each person's distinct circumstances (timing belt, espresso machine, fancy briefcase, maid service).

Ooh- maid service!!
posted by Sassyfras at 7:36 PM on November 26, 2009

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned a Kindle yet.
posted by filmgeek at 7:46 PM on November 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

You may create a win-win if you ask the boss for gifts that can make you a better professional. A big Evernote account. A subscription to Basecamp. One of those crazy dictation pens. Dual screen monitors, etc. etc.
posted by jasondigitized at 7:47 PM on November 26, 2009

Donation to the charity of the "recipient's" choice? That could make people feel really good, and not create/consume more quasi-useful "stuff".

Also: tickets/subscriptions to a theater or musical event. This could have the bonus effect of giving the recipients an experience in common to have great conversations about, and generally bind the group together.
posted by amtho at 7:48 PM on November 26, 2009

Inuit Soap Stone Carving
posted by Frasermoo at 7:56 PM on November 26, 2009

A Kindle! How come I didn't think of that! Seems like the best option so far.

Still appreciating more answers.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:17 PM on November 26, 2009

A day or three off work with pay (depending on how much the managers' daily pay works out to).
posted by Joleta at 9:32 PM on November 26, 2009

How bout a nice watch?

How bout a couple massages at the local spa?

How about Front row seats to a sporting event? (Could even pool the money and get a room)

You might also find some good ideas if you look up groomsmen gifts.
posted by Redmond Cooper at 10:15 PM on November 26, 2009

A trip.

Somewhere romantic.
posted by OwlBoy at 11:18 PM on November 26, 2009

Nth a Kindle - a Kindle DX specifically.
posted by bigmusic at 11:59 PM on November 26, 2009

Inuit Soap Stone Carving

You should come to the yard sales in the executive neighbourhoods around here. You could collect the whole set!
posted by Sallyfur at 12:38 AM on November 27, 2009

Gift Card to somewhere that sells gadgets? Best Buy?

This is just me venting but please don't ever do this because then you have to go spend the money at Best Buy, where everything costs twice what it should. I get those damn cards every year please stop thanks.
posted by bh at 1:20 AM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would not be confident that 30-45 year old real estate agents have any more than a passing interest in electronic gadgets. Many people prefer to read off paper and would not use a Kindle. Same thing with kitchen devices---not everyone loves to cook.

I think that very high-quality durable clothing, like shoes or coats, would be a good choice if getting everyone's size is possible. Personal styles vary, but there are some fairly universal standards in men's clothing.
posted by scose at 2:15 AM on November 27, 2009

Voucher for a personal trainer
posted by Chrysalis at 2:33 AM on November 27, 2009

To elaborate on the upscale coffee device -- not everybody knows how to make espresso, or enjoys doing so. Which is why you should think about an automated or pod/capsule-based machine, such as this, this, or this. Just an example.
posted by suedehead at 2:35 AM on November 27, 2009

Cash is for closers.
posted by ooga_booga at 2:36 AM on November 27, 2009

Here in showbiz we give swag. Embroidered jackets / hats / shirts / parkas with the name of the movie or TV show on it. Something you can wear and people know you worked on the picture.

I don't know if anyone would want a leather jacket with the name of the company / name of the deal discreetly written on it, but that depends on how people feel about the company. I like to wear my swag.
posted by musofire at 5:11 AM on November 27, 2009

Along the lines of gadgets: nthing Kindle.... also, Nintendo DS + games? A car GPS? (some fancy ones have satellite traffic updates!) Netflix ROKU player-box-thing? If they are athletic-y runner types: A Garmin GPS watch + heart rate monitor?

Also, a nice designer wallet, or similar accessories in that vein (travel case/toiletry kit, key fob, leather portfolio, etc.) Not to endorse label-whoring, but the wallet or portfolio could be a boon for people in sales because many people notice that sort of thing and think it means "he/she is a good business person and/or potential customer." (I realize that's a totally tacky line of thinking, but I've seen it work in response to real and knockoff watches/wallets, alike.)
posted by NikitaNikita at 5:35 AM on November 27, 2009

2nding extra vacation time. Bonuses, raises, gifts are all distractions from the fact that work demands so much of you. If it's possible in the corporate structure, a longer vacation or some days off would probably be highly appreciated.

It's crazy hard to find gifts for multiple people which are this expensive, although culture may be more predictable at his place. Check out uncrate for suggestions?
posted by tmcw at 7:18 AM on November 27, 2009

Get everyone a new suit!
posted by baserunner73 at 7:48 AM on November 27, 2009

Some of these answers are really good. (Others though, kind of have me laughing. A personal trainer? A new suit? Really? Wouldn't those sort of send the wrong message?)

Anyway. I'm really grateful for all the answers so far. I'll ask my husband later if he's made any suggestions to the boss.

The ones that seem viable right now:
-Coffee/espresso machine
-Designer stuff (like wallet, travel case, etc.)
-Williams & Sonoma big things (maybe)

I think a lot more of the suggestions would be perfect for the managers at the place *I* used to work for before, but these are some very well paid managers, so suggestions like cash, a bonus, or a certificate to a nice restaurant are would not really seem like a festive sort of gift. Everyone got bonuses for working their asses off a few months ago (the whole real estate going down thing), and I think everyone has the opportunity for decent vacations.

To be honest though, when my husband told me about this, the first thing out of my mouth was "CASH!!".
posted by CrazyLemonade at 8:25 AM on November 27, 2009

I like the travel voucher/sports tickets/really nice dinner ideas already mentioned... experiences can make much nicer gifts than "things", and personally I know that 5 years from now I'd rather have fond memories of the year my boss paid for a great little trip or a really exquisite dinner than have a gadget sitting on my shelf reminding me how much more useful just GIVING ME THE CASH would have been.
posted by usonian at 8:34 AM on November 27, 2009

An extra contribution to the 401k? Since cash or additional paid time off is not an option, what about an Olive (the olive2 is around $600) or a Squeezebox?
posted by crush-onastick at 9:00 AM on November 27, 2009

Canon S90 camera and a couple accessories (new battery, big memory card...).
posted by raf at 9:22 AM on November 27, 2009

Instead of a plane ticket, how about a train ticket? There's something really relaxing about a nice train ride, and I think a lot of people shy away from train travel due to the time it takes. But it's really enjoyable.
posted by redsparkler at 10:05 AM on November 27, 2009

Here is the rub. You have 7 highly paid professionals and you're looking fro 1 item that
1- none of them already have
2 - all of them want.

It's a nice gesture, but meeting both of those criteria is going to be nearly impossible at a $500 price point. If they wanted something that cost 500 bucks, they'd buy it.

It would actually be more personal to select a gift certificate for each individual. Bob just bought a new house? Williams Sonoma. Joe's planning a long vacation? A gift certificate the best restaurant in that place.

If it's got to be 1 item for everyone, then have a company come to the office and hand detail everyone's car- wax, polish, clean the rims, the works. If you had that done for the managers every few months that would be cool.
posted by 26.2 at 12:58 PM on November 27, 2009

So my husband spoke to the boss. I think they're getting Kindles for everyone plus maybe an Amazon Gift Card (to buy the books). I'm not marking any best answers as this thread has a lot of good ideas and might be useful for someone else.

(I actually like that last suggestion of the wax, polish & stuff for a car, I might actually get that for my dad.)
posted by CrazyLemonade at 2:06 PM on November 27, 2009

Just FYI, I wouldn't want any of the items suggested here, and I know many people who would feel the same way. So make sure that whatever you get is returnable, and include a gift receipt. Otherwise, your husband's colleagues may end up with cash in the (much lower) amount of whatever they can get for their unwanted crap on eBay.
posted by decathecting at 10:36 AM on November 29, 2009

I'm late to this party, but I would spring for $500 at a good tailor. If they want work done on suits or shirts they already have, great, otherwise they can get custom shirts worked up that will fit them beautifully.
posted by craven_morhead at 12:30 PM on December 7, 2009

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