Holiday time means gift-giving time. You may be wondering about doing so at the workplace – specifically, whether you should give your manager a gift for the holidays. Every workplace is different, and in some workplaces, you are expected to buy your boss a present, under penalty of possibly losing your jobs. In other offices, it is just an option.

Buying your boss a gift is fraught with peril

So should you buy your manager a present? Generally speaking, it is something that can be very problematic at the workplace. Here are some of the issues that could come up with buying your manager a present:

  • How much to spend? You can’t afford to spend too much, but you don’t want to spend too little, either.
  • Buying a gift could make it look like you are sucking up to your boss. And if other co-workers find out that you bought your manager a present, all sorts of other problems can ensue, including resentment and rumors about what you are doing.
  • Some workplaces, like ones in the federal government, may not allow managers and others to accept gifts, due to ethical guidelines.
  • What if you buy a gift that somehow offends your boss? Your gesture could end up causing issues. If you buy your boss a bottle of wine, and she turns out to be a recovering alcoholic, that gift could be offensive. Even something like food could cause problems if your boss is allergic – or dieting?
  • Besides, shouldn’t your boss be the one buying you a gift, and not the other way around?

Therefore, unless it is the office custom to buy your supervisor a gift, some career coaching experts say that should probably shy away from doing so. There are way too many things that could potentially go wrong.

If you work in an office where people buy the manager a gift, you could go in with a group of people on what to buy – that could potentially be less perilous. Or you could go ahead and get an Amazon gift card or something similar. Don’t spend too much, though — $20 to $25 is about the right amount for most employers.

An idea that won’t cost anything

If you really want to give your manager something memorable for the holidays, why not write him or her a card or letter saying how much you learned from your boss over the past year and thanking them for being a good manager? That is something that would be the right size for any manager.