It's the most giftiest time of year, a time when we all get together, pretend to be happy and exchange worthless presents with our coworkers. This yearly ritual is often dull and depressing unless you've managed to sneak egg nog for a few hours prior to the gift-giving extravaganza, in which case you're probably ready to party, try to make out with that chick who is half your age in accounting and then sob on your cubicle mate's shoulder when she turns you down. Merry Christmas!
The one thing you probably can't get out of is getting a gift for the boss. On one hand, you don't want to appear to be kissing ass for a promotion. On the other hand, you don't want to be the one "I will not participate in commercialism" asshole in the office. It's a delicate balance. Here's how to avoid giving your boss a stupid gift this holiday.
Learn Something About the Person Who Signs Your Paychecks
Outside of work, your boss probably has a hobby or two, maybe even a remotely fascinating interest like doll collecting, model building or end-of-days preparation. Get to know your boss and try to pick something that fits into his or her areas of interest. If, however, your boss is mostly interested in chasing women, as tempting as it may be, porn is never appropriate.
Handing your boss a gift that implies she is pregnant would be cute at a baby shower or if, you know, she is actually pregnant. If she's not, you are in deep shit. When it comes to pregnancy, never ever ever assume. Same goes for religion, politics, sports teams, sexual orientation and a host of other possible embarrassing entanglements. Bottom line: Don't guess.
Be Very Generic or Very Specific
As a general rule, giving gifts to a person you don't know THAT well often means getting something anyone could get, but shopping at CVS is not an option for the head honcho. But if you don't know this person really well, going for something super generic -- maybe a gift card to a store like Target -- is a safe bet. Still, going the exact opposite route, if you nail it, can prove fruitful. A CD of music you really like, assuming it isn't full of overly romantic songs, has a personal touch, but it could backfire if you love, for example, Dying Fetus and your boss is into Elvis.
Do NOT Give Christmas-Themed Christmas Gifts
This is never a good idea. No one gives you those big number candles to put on your cake as your birthday gift, so why should you give an ornament or a dancing Santa as a gift for that holiday. It's dumb. Don't do it.
When in Doubt, Give Alcohol...With Exceptions
I shouldn't have to tell you that if your boss is a teetotaler, for whatever reason, this is a bad idea. But, otherwise, a nice bottle of wine -- more than ten bucks, big spender -- is often a good idea.
One Word: Consumables
While we're on the topic of things you drink, why not something to eat. Be careful you don't give a slab of beef to a vegetarian, but, otherwise, fruit, ham, candy...all acceptable and easy for your boss to dispose of if they don't want it.
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SHOW ME HOW
You're Not Funny Enough to Give a Gag Gift
I know. You think you are hilarious. You're the office clown. Problem is, Bozo, they aren't laughing with you. Don't give a gag gift to your boss. It's dumb and unfunny and makes you seem more sad than funny. Yes, even the sex toy you think your female boss would find amusing. She won't.
Don't Be Cheap
Fine, get a gift card if you must be simplistic, but a $5 Starbucks gift card is just lame. Honestly, for a boss, 20 bucks is the minimum here. If you got a raise, splurge a little. For that matter, splurge a little on all the people in your life who helped get you that raise, like me. After all, I'm the one that kept you from giving that stupid gift that would have kept you from getting a raise. How about cash? I prefer twenties.