Gift giving can be fraught with hidden land mines. The ritual of exchanging gifts involves what is often complex social mores. That’s because a gift inevitably places a value upon the relationship. Gifts exchanged in the workplace need to be carefully chosen, and matched to both the relative positions of both parties, as well as the appropriateness of the specific gift. For example, if a manager gives a lower echelon employee a revealing negligee, there could be a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting in the wings.
Gift recipients will most certainly calculate their perceived value to the person who gave the gift. As crass as that sounds, it helps a person navigate the often convoluted and complex relationships that exist in the typical workplace. With that said, the best gifts to give your manager are ones that are not likely to offend, or to be interpreted as a power play.
Thankfully, there are many gifts that are free of social landmines, especially when it comes to buying a present for a manager. Consider these four categories, when purchasing a gift for the boss.
1. Look at artisanal soaps. The typical boss will appreciate an opportunity to dispense with the usual morning routine. Who doesn’t want a change now and then? School of Wash.com carries a wide selection of handmade bath products that fit every budget and occasion. If the boss is a pet lover, the bath-product company also carries a line of natural pet bath products.
2. Edible gifts are perennially popular. Candy, coffee, and gourmet treats fit the bill for gift giving. For managers on a diet, it’s best to dispense with those foods that have a high caloric count. It’s also helpful to focus on those food items that are not part of the everyday routine; otherwise, the gift may be perceived as having less intrinsic value.
3. Sustainable gifts are much in demand. Sustainability can be a loaded term, but the recent Federal Trade Commission guidelines have made the waters less muddy. In October 2012, the commission released its Green Guides. Companies selling products advertised as environmentally safe or friendly now have to ensure those claims are true. That means gift givers will have an easier time avoiding “green washing,” when choosing environmentally sound gifts.
4. Gift certificates offer an easy option. The advantage to a gift certificate is obvious: the recipient has the choice of using it to indulge their own whims, instead of receiving a gift they may not want. Who knows how many gifts end up in a landfill, or are pawned off on a relative or friend? The disadvantage is that virtually no time or effort was put into choosing that gift. A gift certificate also lacks to the emotional satisfaction that often comes with handing an actual object to the person, and watching them open the gift. It minimizes the ritual of giving and receiving.