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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Should you give your boss a birthday present?

So my husband asked on Facebook, crowd-sourcing what should have been an easy question.
"Nope," I said. "That's weird."
But there's more to the story.
David's fairly new to his job, and last week a coworker came in and whispered, "Next week it's Nora's birthday, and everybody kind of brings her a gift."
David thanked him for the heads-up, and after conferring with his skeptical wife, bought a box of snazzy candy, which he dutifully left on Nora's (the Big Boss) desk the next day.

Where it sat.

All alone.

Nora did not come in to work.

No one else left a gift on her desk.

Now, as his unease grew, David began reflecting on the nature of the coworker who offered advice. This is the coworker that he used to refer to as "Asperger's guy" when he couldn't remember his name. Suddenly, David recalled other "jokes" from this fellow - which weren't funny at all.

He sneaked into the office and stole the gift back, and stuffed it in his drawer.
But then? Then the next day, Nora's desk was piled with cactuses, bottles of wine, gift cards, and cheap jewelry.
IT REALLY WAS A THING. So David added his chocolate to the pile, and got a lengthy and charmed thank you note in return.So in answer to my question, no, you should not give your boss a birthday present. Unless everyone else is doing it.


  1. Haha- great wee story! Glad it all came all right. Reminds me of an exboyfriend telling me that it was his sisters birthday the weekend we would be meeting for the first time. It was cricket season ( as in insects) in Uganda- and she lived in Kenya- and my boyfriend told me she loved crickets but couldn't get them in Kenya. So- off I went to the market, but them in Tupperware and eager to please tied a ribbon around the box. Flew to Kenya , and over our smoked salmon breakfast presented her with my gift...fill in the rest.... Everyone else finds this hilarious... We didn't last.

  2. wow, that is really weird. Getting your boss a birthday present just seems so bizarre.

  3. I hate situations like these...what the heck do you do?? It's like one year we all discussed not giving Christmas gifts at the office. We all agreed, but then a couple of people gave them anyway. Really? Arggghhh.

  4. Oh man, that is awkward! I am my boss's only employee in the Charlotte office, so I did bring him cupcakes for his birthday. But a gift would have been tough!

  5. I am pretty close with my boss. I'll give him a present if I see some thing that I think he needs, or reminds me of him, or is funny, or whatever. But I don't get him birthday or Christmas presents. I think food is a perfect in your husband's case. Everyone likes candy, so it's not overly personal.

  6. Ha, this scenario reminded me of one of those wacky 80's sit-com story-lines. My answer would have been NOOOOOO!!! But then again I tend ignore obvious social norms from time to time. It's somewhat of a fatal flaw. My assessment would be that it would take a pretty special employment situation to keep me working for such a narcissist who would actually accept gifts from all of her employees each year. Don't think I could do that. But I jump to conclusions a lot, maybe this person is actually wonderful and benevolent. I digress.