Workzone: A holiday gift for your boss? Proceed with caution

PROCEED WITH CAUTION PROCEED WITH CAUTION

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Considering giving your boss a gift for the holidays? Just like Santa who famously makes a list and checks it twice, you ought to think twice about buying the boss a present.

It can be a touchy call, one that you don't want to get wrong.

"Probably the biggest [pitfall] is your well-intended gift could come off as brown-nosing" by the boss and your co-workers, said Christine Frietchen, editor-in-chief for the product review site, Consumersearch.com.

"That's not the kind of tension you want to create," she said.

A major consideration should be the office culture, Ms. Frietchen said.

Offices that have "secret Santa" gift exchanges that include management are more inclined to embrace a more personal exchange.

Gift-giving also feels more natural if the office is full of sales people, who are accustomed to receiving and giving business-related gifts.

Even then, if you are in doubt about getting your boss a gift, don't do it, Ms. Frietchen said.

Rather than a gift, a better choice may be a card with a personal note acknowledging a boss who has been especially helpful or accommodating during the year, say, during a relative's illness.

"I don't know many people who wouldn't prefer to get a warm personal greeting rather than something disposable," Ms. Frietchen said.

Just be sure you don't write anything in the note that you would be uncomfortable having a co-worker read, she said.

If you decide to buy a gift, present it in private. "It should be just between the two of you, not something other people are having to witness," she said.

As for what to give, there are a few rules you should follow.

Don't give cash, liquor or something too personal, such as perfume, clothing or jewelry, Ms. Frietchen said.

Don't go overboard. Limit your spending to around $20 or $25.

Steer clear of humorous gifts, which can backfire. It's better to be boring than to buy something that is interpreted as risque or offensive, she said.

And don't get anything too off-beat, or you risk buying something your boss can't use.

"There's nothing wrong with coffee or cookies. But as far as a 'Mustards of the World' sampler, maybe not," Ms. Frietchen said.

Gift cards are nice because they can be re-gifted easily, she said.

"If it's not to the boss' taste, he can pass it along."

Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.

Considering giving your boss a gift for the holidays? Just like Santa who famously makes a list and checks it twice, you ought to think twice about buying the boss a present.

It can be a touchy call, one that you don't want to get wrong.

"Probably the biggest [pitfall] is your well-intended gift could come off as brown-nosing" by the boss and your co-workers, said Christine Frietchen, editor-in-chief for the product review site, Consumersearch.com.

"That's not the kind of tension you want to create," she said.

A major consideration should be the office culture, Ms. Frietchen said.

Offices that have "secret Santa" gift exchanges that include management are more inclined to embrace a more personal exchange.

Gift-giving also feels more natural if the office is full of sales people, who are accustomed to receiving and giving business-related gifts.

Even then, if you are in doubt about getting your boss a gift, don't do it, Ms. Frietchen said.

Rather than a gift, a better choice may be a card with a personal note acknowledging a boss who has been especially helpful or accommodating during the year, say, during a relative's illness.

"I don't know many people who wouldn't prefer to get a warm personal greeting rather than something disposable," Ms. Frietchen said.

Just be sure you don't write anything in the note that you would be uncomfortable having a co-worker read, she said.

If you decide to buy a gift, present it in private. "It should be just between the two of you, not something other people are having to witness," she said.

As for what to give, there are a few rules you should follow.

Don't give cash, liquor or something too personal, such as perfume, clothing or jewelry, Ms. Frietchen said.

Don't go overboard. Limit your spending to around $20 or $25.

Steer clear of humorous gifts, which can backfire. It's better to be boring than to buy something that is interpreted as risque or offensive, she said.

And don't get anything too off-beat, or you risk buying something your boss can't use.

"There's nothing wrong with coffee or cookies. But as far as a 'Mustards of the World' sampler, maybe not," Ms. Frietchen said.

Gift cards are nice because they can be re-gifted easily, she said.

"If it's not to the boss' taste, he can pass it along."


Patricia Sabatini: psabatini@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3066.


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