Should I Buy My Boss a Gift?: Rules For Buying Gifts for Bosses

By Daniel Whitehouse

Engraved Expert Ballpoint Stainless Gold Trim next to teacup

Should I Buy My Boss a Gift?: Rules For Buying Gifts for Bosses

By Daniel Whitehouse

Many people would find the very nature of gift-giving as an act that strengthens relationships. At least in a personal and vertical environment. But here, the main question lies: is giving gifts to bosses in the workplace just as acceptable?

ANSWER: If your workplace allows it, yes! Some don’t allow it, though, so ask HR or read through the employee handbook.

In the workplace, gift-giving isn’t always an obligation. Business etiquette might even go so far as to dictate that giving gifts to your superior is far from the norm.

If done wrong, you can encounter some very awkward workplace dynamics, like harassment and favoritism.

But that isn’t to say giving office gifts to bosses is forbidden outright too.

It’s best to understand the workplace culture before gift-giving and find out whether it’s acceptable or not.

Here are some tips on figuring out whether you should buy your boss an office gift and some professional unique gift ideas.

Do People Buy Their Boss’s Gifts?

This is a shot of the owner of New Zealand watch company - Hunters RaceImage from: Unsplash

Yes, there’s a definitive crowd of gift-givers in certain workplaces.

In fact, a study conducted by Olivet Nazarene University found that 32% of people purchased a gift to their boss at some point.

While that’s a good chunk of people, many workplaces have employee handbooks that explicitly cover the permissibility of gift-giving. Some companies allow it, while others don’t.

If you do decide to buy a gift for your boss, consider talking to the HR staff to see the extent to which gift-giving is allowed.

Once they give you the go-signal, you’re free to shop as much as you want to find the perfect gift for your boss.

The DONT’s of Giving Office Gifts to Your Superior

Here are some restrictions to bear in mind when giving office gifts to your bosses.

  • Don’t forget to follow the etiquette rules set by your employer
  • Don’t give gifts that cross any boundaries, like lingerie or a bouquet of flowers
  • When possible, don’t steer clear from group collaboration; give group gifts with them instead
  • Don’t bribe your boss and expect favors that’ll set you apart from your coworkers

With all that said, the corporate culture is highly contingent on your workplace and country. If you’re looking for a start, sending a gift that signals or relates to business success and practical use is usually a sound idea.

How to Give a Gift to My Boss?

It’s not always about the gift. It’s about how you present it too.

Don’t send them a shoddily-wrapped package through the intern. That reeks of lack of consideration and could even be negatively misinterpreted.

Instead, go the extra mile and show your appreciation by presenting your gift in a more heartfelt way. You can do this by simply adding a handwritten note of appreciation.

How Much Should I Spend on My Boss’s Gift?

Girl holding American Dollar BillsImage from: Unsplash

Abiding by business etiquette, the amount you’ll allocate for the gift’s budget boils down to two things: your job title and the strength of your relationship.

If you’re still in the lower rungs and looking to make a lavish purchase for your boss higher up the ladder, you risk getting snide eyes from coworkers who think you’re trying to ingratiate yourself.

If you’re higher up in the ladder, like an associate vice president to the regional vice president, you have more room to splurge and deepen your working relationship while you’re at it.

Your office gift ideas should strike a delicate balance between what’s affordable and what’s valuable.

Should I Buy a Group Gift or an Individual Gift?

If your coworkers are planning to chip in for your boss’s office gift, then you probably should too.

If you decline, it might inadvertently leave a sour taste in your coworkers’ mouth, giving off the image that you don’t like participating in the larger group.

Following the department’s protocol is the safest bet since it’s generally deemed acceptable within the office environment. Plus, you still contribute towards giving your boss a heartfelt gift without skirting past eyebrow-raising means.

If no such protocols regarding group gift ideas are in place, then that’s when you can offer an individual gift to your boss instead. 

Can Employees Accept Gifts from Bosses?

Yes, managers, bosses, and executives can give gifts to their employees. It’s up to you to decide whether to accept them as well.

But, bear in mind; it’s important to keep professionalism in the workplace. While a thank you card or a desk item are great gifts for coworkers, a bouquet of flowers out of the blue would send the wrong message.

 Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Professional Gifting Etiquette

Should I Expect Anything from My Boss in Return?

If you get a positive response for the gift, awesome. A follow-up positive reception is always nice, but don’t expect more than that either.

If they don’t respond, leave it be. They may be too busy to set some time to thank you, and you shouldn’t stay in limbo and overthink it. Simply move on.

But more often than not, it’s reasonable to expect a simple gratitude note on your desk or an email from the recipient after.

What Gift Should I Give to My Boss?

You may still find yourself troubled over what can be considered a thoughtful gift for your boss? See what interests your boss and base your unique gift idea off that.

Maybe they’d like a box of donuts from the new donut shop down the block, or maybe they’d be just as happy to receive an Amazon Gift card and call it a day.

Finding their interests usually comes with time, but your coworkers may also have some inside scoop on your boss’s hidden interests. Get insights from them as well.

But one thing’s for certain. The absolute safest and most functional gift idea is one that’s usable during work hours — like a pen from Dayspring Pens.

Excellent Corporate Gifts for Coworkers and Bosses

Looking for a gift idea for your boss? We have pens that are certified boss-pleasers listed below.

Waterman Expert Ballpoint - Black Chrome Trim

Waterman Expert Ballpoint Black Chrome Trim

Waterman Expert Ballpoint - Black Chrome Trim

Product Features:

  • Twist-action Waterman ballpoint with black ink
  • Polished palladium appointments and a black-lacquered body
  • Comes in a Waterman gift box
  • Custom gold-plated engraving to add as message
  • Waterman warranty for defects (3 years)

Whether you plan to group buy or individually purchase the item, give your boss this stylish pen to suit their daily needs. The Waterman Expert ballpoint pen provides smooth and consistent ink flow that looks great on top of any executive’s desk. Give this looker a chance to shine, and you’ll have your boss beaming from ear to ear.

Parker Premier Rollerball Pen

Parker Premier Rollerball Pen

Product Features:

  • Rollerball pen that comes in a cap with black ink
  • A shiny black finish with 23-karat gold-plated appointments 
  • Gold laser engraving that marks in gold tones
  • Two-year mechanical warranty by Parker 
  • Comes in premium Parker gift box

Exude an aura of elegance and prestige with The Premier luxury pen. This rollerball is a rich writing instrument that takes the smoothness of fountain pens with the reliability of the ballpoint pen. This pen is perfect for exclusive buys with its premium price tag and equally commanding looks that’s sure to make your boss’s day.

Go for Dayspring 

A great gift for your boss should be one you are proud to give them, and a personalized item from Dayspring Pens is without a doubt something you can stand behind.

Get them one for a special occasion or even just because. You’re sure to leave a lasting impression either way. Plus, our pens are of superior quality so they're going to remember the gesture for a long time coming.

Find something perfect for your boss in our wide collection today.

Featured image: Unsplash


Daniel Whitehouse is the President and CEO of Dayspring Pens. He uses his expertise with premium writing utensils to create exceptional, intentional products and craft easy-to-understand articles that help both new and experienced users learn more about their writing tools. He lives in Virginia where he and his wife are raising their four children.

To learn more about him and his insights about custom engraved gift pens, follow Daniel on LinkedIn.

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