Many workplaces have a Secret Santa tradition, and if you’ve ever participated in one, you recognise the awkward unease of picking your boss’ name out of the hat. It’s hard to choose the right corporate gift baskets because you feel pressured to make a good impression. You might end up spending more than you would prefer because you want the boss to like you.
The type of gift you buy for a boss – whether it’s a birthday, Christmas, Eid, or Hanukkah purchase – depends largely on the kind of relationship you have with them. Some companies are cordial and friendly. In such cases, you may be familiar with your boss on a personal level, so you know what they’re like, and what they like.
However, if your office space is more formal, then deciding what to buy becomes more tricky. In the case of a Secret Santa scenario, there might be a pre-set price cap, which does make things that much easier. If the cap is low, you might still feel pushed to spend more because you don’t want to look cheap.
A good way to buy a fancy present on a limited budget is to buy a gift basket. They always offer more value than their cash price, and they intertwine luxurious items with regular ones, giving a well-balanced reward. They also come beautifully packaged, which makes a good impression to your recipient.
Some companies prepare gift baskets that have added benefits. They might – for example – include a donation clause. In such cases, a percentage of the purchase price goes to a charity you’ve selected. Rather than the donation bearing the name of the person that bought the hamper, it will have the name of the receiver.
This serves as a gift in itself because it allows your boss to feel warm and fuzzy, knowing their name is attached to a good deed. Plus, since their name is in the donation records, it could allow them to claim tax relief for charitable contributions.
If you’d like to make a specific impression on the boss, you could have a word with the boss’ PA, their driver, or even the office receptionist. They know little details about him or her and can point you in the right direction gift-wise. Just be sure to get your subtle helper a gift as well, and to return the favour at a later date.
Even if you don’t have particular guidance, there are some gifts that will sit well with anyone. Top executives like to be seen as cultured individuals so you might buy them tickets to something fancy like a classical concert, an opera performance, or an art gallery. If they’re more of an average-joe type of boss, try sporting event tickets instead.
Most guys are pretty verbal about their sports team of choice, so even if you barely speak with your boss, you’re likely to know which game he enjoys and who he supports. Get him a team jersey with his name on the back. That always goes down well and works equally well if you have a female boss that enjoys sports. Just be sure to get the team right.
You may be tempted to go generic. You know, socks and a tie for the guy, flowers and candy for the girl, but this rarely makes an impression, and it’s not always the thought that counts, especially regarding corporate politics.
Instead of a bland, unoriginal present, consider getting your boss an executive gift hamper. A bottle of red or white wine packaged in a wooden crate makes an excellent gift. The packs look elegant and expensive, even though they only cost about $50. They come with a rich box of chocolate and a gift card.
Plan B is to have everyone chip in and buy a group gift instead, especially for a birthday. Try the Luxury Hamper or the Executive Hamper, a hefty mix of wine, cheese, chocolate, nuts, coffee, salad dressing, and more. The boss is bound to find something in there that they like.