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How to overcome the boss's 2007 holiday snub?

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“Last year I gave my boss a nice, monogrammed business-card holder for his desk. He never acknowledged it and doesn’t use it. What now? Food, fruit or something for the entire family?” --Diane

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa January 5, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I was in the same position (“going overboard” in gift giving in the past), and wished I hadn’t started the tradition. This Christmas, a bunch of us (including my boss) were talking about holiday gift budgets and the state of the economy. I used this opportunity to say, “I’ve decided that I’m going to make everyone cookies this year! Everyone likes them, and it fits my budget.” He’s such a nice guy, he even said “That’s a great idea!” (He might have even been relieved, himself!)

Something to remember, office ettiquette books say that you’re not supposed to “gift up” (give a gift to your boss). I think it’s okay to make a nice homemade present, like cookies, but have had bosses say emphatically that they do NOT want their employees to give them gifts. One of my bosses says that he doesn’t want people spending money on presents for him — and he really means it!

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Sarah December 16, 2008 at 10:47 am

How do you know he isn’t using it? Perhaps he liked it so much he brought it home to use in his home office! :) I agree with the gals who suggested to take the high road. Christmas is all about giving with a generous spirit. I like the idea of homemade goodies and a card… personal yet affordable!

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Elaine December 15, 2008 at 10:37 am

I agree. I have gone overboard for two bosses on Christmases past, and now I’m stuck having to live up to last year. Make it small but sincere. Don’t get in my rut; it’s expensive. I wish I knew a way out shy of quitting my job!

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kim December 12, 2008 at 4:13 pm

I think out of simple courtesy a card should be given. As you get to know you boss better it becomes easier to find a ‘little something’ that they would like. I don’t spend much money, but make sure that it is something my boss would enjoy. I have always felt that it is awkward to give an item that REQUIRES the recipient to display it in their office. You may not have the same taste as the recipient……… Live and learn, I hope you haven’t been stewing about this all year?

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Karen December 12, 2008 at 3:44 pm

My boss is not comfortable dealing with people on a personal level. He is not just being rude or intentionally obtuse about things; he just doesn’t know how. My company is very generous with pay, bonuses and benefits, and we shut down over Christmas for 2 weeks fully paid (that is over and above sick time and vacation) every year. I see Christmas as my opportunity to say thank you and to let my boss know I appreciate working here. I give him something every year and he usually does not acknowledge it unless I ask him. Last year I sent a basket of Ghiradelli chocolate to his home and when I asked him when we got back from our break if he ever received it, he said, “I think so”. Oh well…

I give to my boss as a token of appreciation. Yes, it would be nice if he would say thank you, but knowing he is an engineering nerd and not good at being personable, I just keep giving and don’t worry about the thanks. It is good for my soul to give and I enjoy it.

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Anon December 12, 2008 at 3:25 pm

I agree with Kathy. However, if you feel you must give recognize him at Christmas, give a donation to a non-religious charity in his/her name. Not only does the boss get some recognition, you get to take the tax deduction if you itemize your taxes.

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Kathy December 12, 2008 at 2:13 pm

I know hindsight is always clearest, but I believe it is best not to start an elaborate gift giving habit to your boss in the first place. It is inappropriate considering appearance to others, and leads to a guilt trip if you can’t maintain the level of giving.

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Michele December 12, 2008 at 2:04 pm

I agree with the charitable donation. It is a wonderful idea. I too have dealt with a boss who never acknowledged any of the gifts that I gave including those that were given to the family. I know how it feels but remember the idea behind a gift is the giving. That is why a donation in his or her name would be such a great idea!! Happy Holidays!!

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Christine December 12, 2008 at 2:00 pm

I have to agree with Jennifer on this topic. If you don’t want to give your boss a gift, then don’t. I give my boss a bottle of wine from his favorite vineyard every year. He doesn’t gush about it and I don’t expect it. I give it to him because I want to.

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Tawney December 9, 2008 at 5:43 pm

I would make a donation to a charity that meant something to him (i.e. if he likes animals, donate to the Humane Society) and make the gift in honor of him. The charity will usually send a letter to the person and you can also give him a nice card telling him that you’ve made a gift in his name.

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Jocelyn December 8, 2008 at 9:38 am

I would make something, like cookies or holiday candy with a nice card. That should suffice, most bosses just appreciated being thought of, and most understand this year is more difficult for employees. I wouldn’t do nothing though because that might make a statement that you do not intend on. Always be above, maybe he just forgot to thank you last year.

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Eliza December 5, 2008 at 6:00 pm

It is possible that your boss is not used to sending our or saying thank you for any gifts he receives; do you do it for him? This year, give him a very nice card with a handwritten note inside wishing him happy holidays.

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Anonymous December 5, 2008 at 4:00 pm

I’d give no less than a nice holiday card. You don’t want to come across as scorned but I think the point will be made.

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Anonymous December 5, 2008 at 3:43 pm

I agree. How sad that he couldn’t even acknowledge your gift or at least say “thank you”. My former boss did the same thing a few years ago. As hard as I tried to please him, my efforts went unnoticed and unrecognized. Last year I didn’t buy him a present. My gift to myself was a transfer to a different department my efforts are appreciated.

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Mark December 5, 2008 at 3:24 pm

If you think your gifts are not appreciated, I would just go with a card this time.

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KAT December 5, 2008 at 3:09 pm

I say you get him nothing then. Maybe just a card wishing him and his family well on the holidays. If he is ungratful for your gift, figure out why you are even wasting your time. Are you doing it for his welfare or yours.

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Jennifer December 5, 2008 at 2:21 pm

I like the way Joyce is thinking. Our job is to make our boss look good all the time and serving someone in front of their peers is first class in my book. The first year with a new boss, he was Italian (hard core) so I got him a great bottle of Italian wine, a chunk of parmesan cheese and treats for his dog. They were a hit. As I got to know him, it became easier to determine what would be a nice gift for him. This year, I would try it again, but go towards something consumable. Food, wine, cookies, etc. Chalk this up to maybe he just was having a rough holiday season. The holidays are all about giving, take the high road!

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Kathy December 5, 2008 at 2:18 pm

Oh my gosh, how rude of him! Are you obligated to give him a gift? If not, I say, skip it. Especially in light of the economy. If he can’t even acknowledge last year’s gift, he may not appreciate anything you give him. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

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Joyce December 5, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Think of it as lesson learned and move forward. I might give a card wishing them a nice holiday and maybe baked goods to share with the office; other than that I don’t generally buy gifts for bosses. I focus on service e.g., my boss had a drink at a party before anyone else and the other bosses were a little envious that her AA brought her a drink and they had to get their own. Didn’t cost me a thing, and it made her feel special.

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Kutty December 5, 2008 at 1:46 pm

If you have a good relationship with you boss, why not ask him what he likes to receive for Christmas? My boss is health conscious “most” of the time and will ask for McD’s breakfast for birthdays and holidays. It may be easier to just ask and give him what he likes, and spend little rather than spend heftily and not be appreciated.

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Bee December 5, 2008 at 1:43 pm

We give a donation to our boss’s favorite charitable organization in lieu of gifts.

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Christine December 5, 2008 at 1:43 pm

I donate to either Make A Wish or St. Jude’s Children’s hospital online. They both have e-cards or cards you can print out that state a donation was made in their name. You can choose any denomination and the recipient is not aware of how much was donated. My bosses have appreciated this gift very much. I’m sure that other charities probably have similiar e-card donation programs. Happy Holidays!!

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Chris N. December 5, 2008 at 1:40 pm

This year, give him nothing. Since he didn’t appreciate or acknowledge last year’s gift, dont’ bother with it again.

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Jo December 5, 2008 at 1:38 pm

I only give Christmas cards and cookies that I have made and placed in a little holiday bag

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Diana S. December 5, 2008 at 1:34 pm

In light of the economy, I don’t think your boss would be upset if you skipped the gift and presented him with a nice holiday card with mention of donation to a charity made on his behalf.

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