The Influence-Your-Boss Gift List

Holiday gifts for the manager may not score a raise, but they can drop hints.


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There’s always something you want to get from your boss, and it’s usually career-altering: higher wages, a promotion, respect. But the boss also controls the more mundane things—like how hot or cold the office is, or whether he or she has the door opened or closed during heated arguments—that can make your life at the office great … or miserable.

Employees have been using gifts to try to influence ever since there have been bosses to influence, but experts say they are more than a little leery of using a retail remedy to hint at a raise or promotion. “It can really come back to bite you,” warns business etiquette and modern manners expert Lydia Ramsey. “Take a direct approach and ask for the raise or schedule a time for a performance review when the time is right.”

As for the little things, just be careful that your message is not insulting.

“I would be really careful about buying my boss a gift that suggests he or she is doing something wrong,” says Lizzie Post, co-host of the Emily Post Institute’s Awesome Etiquette podcast. But bosses who have a good sense of humor or gifts given jointly from colleagues (so no one person takes responsibility) can send a friendly signal about a boss’s quirky tendency—and add to the holiday spirit.

For the boss who…

Is stressed out

Deep Sea Sand Art (Uncommon Goods)


With this tranquil sand art masterpiece, your boss can briefly escape the chaos of the office and relish in the and of Zen. Perhaps the picturesque landscapes will even inspire him or her to pencil in a vacation.

Likes the office freezing

Heated Throw with Intellisense (Berkshire Blanket)


Are your teeth chattering as you work? This should send a subtle hint that the office is currently more conducive to polar bears.

Has bad phone etiquette

Quiet Comfort 35 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones II (Bose)


Your boss may well be whispering during the next conference call—sparing you and your colleagues from all the dialogue and jargon.

Always makes mistakes on mobile phones

Keys-to-Go Keyboard (Logitech)


Tired of having to decipher your boss’s mobile missives because he or she can’t use the phone’s autocorrect function? This keyboard connects to a tablet or smartphone.

Is indecisive

Decision Paperweight (Uncommon Goods)


If the boss has trouble with choices, he or she can resolve to spin the dial. Voilà, a decision is made on crises big or small.

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