What gift to thank an advisor?
April 30, 2008 7:29 AM   Subscribe

What are some good appreciation gift ideas for a thesis advisor who was kind when the project took far longer than originally planned?

I did an undergraduate thesis in college. My paper took about, um, a year longer to finish than it should have due to some personal issues and some challenges with the paper itself. My advisor had to deal with some hassles because of this as well, and was always very patient and cool about it. He also went out of his way to get my paperwork submitted at the last minute (due to me taking so long). All of the paperwork was recently tied up and I'm officially done now. I want to send a thank-you note and a small gift of appreciation to his office, but I know nothing about the protocol for this or what would be an appropriate gift?
He's a fairly young professor, not super formal, and other than that I know he likes music a lot and has young kids. I hate giving non-relatives gift certificates because it seems too monetary and less thoughtful. I also am trying to avoid anything too office-ish like a fruit basket or a mug or whatever. Any suggestions on an appropriate gift that one could give in this situation? I am somewhat broke so it can't be anything too fancy, unfortunately.
posted by anonymous to Education (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How about a book with a small thank you note written on the front page.
not a novel or a academic book, but something that interest him
Like if he like to travel, a LonelyPlanet Guide.
posted by WizKid at 8:03 AM on April 30, 2008

Ohh so he likes music. what kind of music.
would he be interested in a book about 'History of Jazz', etc...
posted by WizKid at 8:04 AM on April 30, 2008

How about the DVD or CD of "Jazz," Ken Burns' PBS series?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 8:19 AM on April 30, 2008

Well, music will be a little troublesome, solely because of subjectivity (after all, who likes all music?), but to me this is yet another problem that chocolate can solve.

If the adviser in question doesn't care for the chocolate, perhaps his children would And failing that, small gifts such as biscuits or choco always seem to end up in the staff lounge. Where they are shared and enjoyed.

Side note: I teach part time at a University in London, and it always pleases me to hear of a fellow academic who puts students first; far too many professors these days seem to view the job as a way to subsidise their research. Students first = OK in my book.
posted by Mutant at 8:50 AM on April 30, 2008

A small* bottle of a fancy liquor (like Patron tequila) may be fitting, especially if you're on familiar enough terms. Include a witty note along the lines of "Please use this to blot out memories of my delayed progress."

*the smallness will offset the fanciness, so it's not costly but still impressive
posted by kittyprecious at 8:56 AM on April 30, 2008

If you're a good student who knows his/her stuff, offer to grade papers/exams/hws/quizzes!

My god, the pile of papers on my desk! If someone could take them off my hands, It'd be worth 5 or 6 kgs of chocolate, easy!

If not, chocolate.
posted by lalochezia at 11:14 AM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

A hand-written note or letter that expresses your thanks will be much more appreciated than any gift. A gift is fine too, but the letter will mean a lot.
posted by about_time at 11:17 AM on April 30, 2008

follow-up from OP: "he actually writes about music, including jazz, which is why I'm afraid anything academic or jazz-related has a high chance of being something he already has."
posted by jessamyn at 11:29 AM on April 30, 2008

Write a very nice letter outlining his patience and support and how you couldn't have done it without him and all the good stuff it means to you, and then send one copy to him and one to his department chair.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:29 AM on April 30, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes, a thoughtful note is the key.

A gift is ok (food, wine, fancy pen, some joke thing related to your research topic) but the note is the lasting thing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:50 AM on April 30, 2008

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