Gifts for Supervisor/co-workers

Updated on September 27, 2011
J.B. asks from Dayton, OH
12 answers

I work in a small office, me + 5 others. I've never worked in an office like this...everyone is expected to buy the others birthday & Christmas gifts. That's fine, but I'm not talking a small token gift but a nice gift ranging from $25 - $50. I am having a hard time justifying spending more on co-workers than I do on my own siblings. I know I have to continue with this "tradition" at work but here's my much do you typically budget for birthday/Christmas gifts for your boss or co-workers? One hours salary per person? more or less? Also..any ideas on gifts that aren't as costly? Thanks for any input!

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answers from Indianapolis on

That's a lot of money to spend on co-workers. We do Secret Santa and sponsor a family. Why don't you try suggesting that instead of giving each other gifts why don't we make if fun by playing Secret Santa or why don't we sponsor a family. Others may want to do something else but are afraid to speak up. All they can say is no we like it the way we've been doing it or what a great idea. Good luck!!

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answers from Chicago on

I think its a nice idea but should not be a must do. I would get them a card and maybe something little. I have a girlfriend who works in a dentist office. Each year the staff goes in on a nice gift card for the boss. one of the other employees said to her your part is $50 we are giving him a $300 gift card. she said sorry I can only do $10 if you want to not put my name on its ok. the other girls were mad but my friend said I can't spend more on the boss than I do on my kids. why would you. the economy is bad. I would maybe say to them lets draw names at christmas. what if you were jewish? what if your jehova witness and do none of those holidays etc? I would just say no.

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answers from Chicago on

I would just break with the tradition and bring in cupcakes or a sweet treat or donut/bagels, etc with a card. Call it a day. I just think that a gift is way over the top!!!!

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answers from Dayton on

Wow, I think that is alot to expect. I believe that if/when buying gifts at work, you should "gift down". The boss should buy for their employees, not the employees buying for their boss.
Maybe if you break this tradition, there would be others in the office who would be very relieved!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My husband is in your same position. They all give $25 gifts to everyone in their small offices for birthdays AND Christmas. It's too much. I have never heard of such a thing. My husband has gone along with it but it's annoying because really, that's what we spend generally on family members' birthdays. If I were in his office, I would suggest the giving to a needy family instead, or maybe everyone pool their money for a birthday luncheon. But I'm not, my husband is. So he generally goes out and buys gift cards.

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answers from Louisville on

For that money, can you do a group gift along the lines of Fruit Flowers/Edible Arrangements?

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answers from Columbus on

Maybe you can try to change things. I too work in a small office and what we did was:
For Birthdays: the office bought a cake or bagels and cream cheese for everyone in the office to get together and celebrate the co-worker’s birthday for about 30-45 min. If the office is not willing to have that expense, maybe all can contribute about $5.00 to $10.00 and buy a gift card; this would be much cheaper than each one of you buying a gift.
For Christmas: we had a gift exchange but we each got a name from a bowl, so we only had to buy ONE gift. We also had a range of $15.00 to $25.00; maybe your office would like to make it higher from $25 to $50, but at least it will only be a single gift.
For special occasions (birth of a baby, wedding, funeral, etc.), we all contributed a set amount, based on what we wanted to give, like a fruit basket, flower arrangement, Gift Certificate or such and sent a group gift.
With this, we still had fun and celebrated, but we didn’t feel like we HAD to spend a lot of money on office presents.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

At our office we used to do a secret santa and draw names. Then a few years ago, we decided to adopt a family and make their Christmas extra special with the money we would have spent on our secret santas. The families are always grateful. We do this through a small organization in Lake County, but I am sure there would be one near you as well.

As for birthdays, we put $20 per person into the birthday fund and then buy a cake, cupcakes, pie, etc. for each person's birthday and a card, which is signed by all of the employees. We try to make it fun, since we spend the majority of the time with our co-workers. We have also had theme days with luncheons.

Good Luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

Yikes! I wouldn't like that at all!!
Do you bake? are you crafty? can you sew?
Can you make them a gift (it can be less expensive, but time consuming)?
Can you suggest drawing names for Christmas??
I work in a small office too, 8 of us, and the office buys a card and a cake (or a pie or whatever) for each person on or near their birthday. That's it. At Christmas we do a $10 gift exchange where everyone brings one gift and then you can steal it 2x, etc. It's quite fun!

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answers from Kansas City on

Wow...umm, that's nice...I guess. ;) I agree maybe try to sway the vote towards drawing names for Christmas, maybe there are others ( I know it's small) that feel like you but haven't spoken up yet. Otherwise, I wouldn't stress too much. I'm willing to bet that any normal person would appreciate whatever you got them, even if it was only a $5 gas card or something!

I was also going to suggest baking something for that person in lieu of a gift. You can do a nice loaf of bread (I have a great banana, pumpkin and egg nog loaf recipe!) that you can always put in a nice bread dish that you can just give them as part of their gift...or bake it and wrap it up on a plastic plate...I honestly think either is just fine!

As far as actual gifts, if you don't know them well I'd probably go with something like a gift card or a dish of candies for their desk, or a even a coffee mug or something if they drink a lot of coffee. Candles or scent jars are nice or if their birthday is around a holiday so something holidayish and decorative.

Good luck, I hope it works out!

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answers from Cincinnati on

I don't buy anything for co-workers or bosses. I can barely afford xmas for my own family. If i had to do it, I would spend what I could afford and if thats not good enough then next time I wouldn't do it at all. We do an ornament exchange every year at work and you spend at least $5 but some people bring in crappy ornaments so I didn't participate last year. They do that game where you steal and stuff which sucks because you know when you've got the worst ornament.

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answers from Miami on

Our office has a Christmas party every year. 10 dollars per person. You can put more if you like. Its a Chinese auction. No one knows what the other got. Some make their gifts, some get 10 dollar gift cards. The bosses throw a a few 50 in there that we all fight over in the auction. It makes it fun. I've walked away with a 10 dollar gift one year, a made up gift another. One year I ended up with a 3 dollar video. But its not the gift its the fun we have fighting over the Chinese auction and we get a free lunch from the bosses. My supervisor gives me a home made cookei every year and I usually try to get her a card. If I have the money a gift. And my assistant who I share with 5 other managers gets a 25 gift certificate on secretary's day. I think you should not be required to get a gift for everyone. I think its appropriate to get your assistant something. I think it would be fine to join in a group gift exchange as long as its a 10 dollar deal or even a 5 dollar deal. I'd get a card for your supervisor or boss. As for birthdays no way. I think the bosses should buy a gift once a month to celebrate everyones birthday that month. Now you might want to get your assistant some flowers.

1 mom found this helpful
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