Gift ideas for my boss
September 30, 2019 1:24 AM   Subscribe

My boss has been more supportive than required in my career trajectory. What's a good birthday present? He likes sailimg, golf, is a science geek, has a PhD. I'm also interested in maintaining a professional relationshop when I leave. This kind of thing isn't my jam. What do other guys do?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (9 answers total)
A letter thanking him for his support and describing some leadership (and possibly personal) qualities of his that you admire and hope to emulate over the course of your career.
posted by cocoagirl at 2:32 AM on September 30, 2019

Hi. I am a boss. Your boss's job is to be more supportive than required in your career trajectory. Although I feel gifts should go down and not up, when I first became a boss my former peers got me a "World's Okayest Boss" coffee mug. Eh, I'm overrated.
posted by Rob Rockets at 2:39 AM on September 30, 2019 [11 favorites]

What we used to do was sign a card, usually sent around in a folder by a secretary, and then order cake from the cafeteria and have a little gathering in a meeting room. No one gave presents. We did this for everyone, so there was no question of favoritism, and it helped strengthen moral and brought people together. Perhaps check with his secretary to see if there's a card to sign?

I once got a crystal clock from my boss, but he was moving to another position overseas, and it was something he and his wife picked out, to thank me for my support in helping with the move (paperwork, etc.) and for my service to him while he was in the States. I never would have thought of buying him a gift and he would have been embarrassed if I had.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:17 AM on September 30, 2019

Hm I feel like a birthday gift for your boss isn't really appropriate, no matter how supportive they've been - it's a professional relationship, not a personal one. It might be dependent on local culture, though, so if it's possible to get a mod to update with your location, that might be worth doing.
posted by penguin pie at 3:45 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I've never worked at a job where gifts were given in an upward direction. (Or, honestly, where they were given downwards, either, other than sometimes bonuses at the end of the year. But never birthday presents except between friends.) It definitely happens, but it is not universal. So make sure this is actually a Thing at your work first, to avoid creating an awkward moment.

The letter or card ideas sound good to me.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:43 AM on September 30, 2019

The best thing, as a manager, I ever receive from anyone who reports to me is a written thanks for the support I've given. I love gifts as much as anyone (probably moreso...I'm a little kid in that way), but from my direct reports, some validation that what I'm doing is helping them in tangible ways just makes my day.
posted by xingcat at 7:21 AM on September 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Yeah, no gifting up, at least in the US. (I am a boss.) A heartfelt letter, or possibly a recommendation on LinkedIn, is as gifty as you should get, even for a boss who helps you get promoted out from under their watch.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:04 AM on September 30, 2019

Not sure what "guys"* do, but no one gives birthday gifts to anyone in my office. Upon promotion, peers sometimes buy a bottle of wine or liquor for the promotee. And sometimes managers buy chocolates around the holidays for their direct reports.

Like someone said above - buy some cupcakes, send around a card. Or maybe you could take him to lunch?

*Your sentence works perfectly fine with "What do others do?" so why bring a gendered noun into it?
posted by valeries at 8:08 AM on September 30, 2019

So in these situations I turn to Ebay. You say your boss has been supportive. Have you had any memorable conversations? Maybe something where he brought up one of those areas - sailing, golf, science. Then I'd grab something from one of those convos and just search eBay and see what comes up. Example, a friend's boss - an editor - was always on him to play with the words he used in his work. Take more chances. He also was apparently addicted to words with friends. For a birthday gift he got him a vintage scrabble set on Ebay. Said he paid under 20 bucks with shipping.

The point is, THAT is the sort of thing that makes a gift good. Taking something that a person said, showing you listened, and finding something that's a little unusual related to it. And in this case it also made it so that the editor asked him to play a game of scrabble at the end of work sometimes. Which led to more connection down the road.

Anyway I'd think about some of the more memorable convos and advice you've gotten. If you're still stuck, send me me a MEFI-mail with the convos and I'll send you some ideas.
posted by rileyray3000 at 12:45 AM on October 2, 2019

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