It's the time of year when there are a bazillion articles about what gift you should give your boss. The implication is that of course you'll give a gift. But I think you're better off skipping it. Here's why:
1. Gift recommendations are not really recommendations.
When a journalist or blogger (is there a difference?) writes about gift items, they get to review the gift items. Which means each gift was already a gift to the writer. I know about this because I'm terrible at it. For example, I would like Bose noise canceling headphones. They are too extravagant for me to buy for myself, so I should ask Bose for a trial pair and then tell you to buy them for your boss.
2. Christmas at work is bad for your boss. Really.
First of all, it's bad for your company to have everyone give end-of-the-year gifts, or holiday gifts, or whatever companies are calling Christmas gifts lately. It's bad because Christmas in the office is bad for diversity. I write about this every year, and every year it is the most controversial post. So you don't need to write to me about how I am a Grinch and a cultural moron and Jews should move back to Israel, okay? Because I get those comments—about 300 of them—each year. So all I'm going to tell you now is that you are not helping your boss reach his or her performance goals for your team by undermining diversity by celebrating Christmas at work.
3. Thanksgiving is a better holiday to give your boss a gift.
You missed it this year. But for next year, remember to give a Thanksgiving gift to your boss because it's a non-religious holiday and it's about giving thanks instead of honoring Jesus's birthday, and giving thanks, after all, is what is appropriate for you to do with a boss. (Note: Please do not tell me Christmas is secular. Only Christians feel enough authority over the holiday to say it is not Christian, which is proof that the holiday belongs to Christians.)
4. The best gift for a boss is handmade.
I know your mom has been telling you this ever since you could write your name on construction paper. But it's not just your mom. It's true for everyone because everyone wants a gift that tells them they are special. For your boss, a handwritten note does the trick. Tell your boss that you appreciate what your boss has done for you over the past year, and that you feel lucky to be working for him or her. Give very specific examples. (Here are tips on how to write that note.)
5. If you want good cheer give good cheer.
You know what? I'm not a Grinch. I'm just pointing out that you are going to be happier if you write a note than if you give a gift, because gratitude is what makes people feel good. Giving it. Giving some material thing does not give you the same jolt of happiness that verbalizing and expressing gratitude does.And receiving material objects is not as gratifying as a thank you note filled with specific examples of how you added meaning to someone's workday.