It might be a way to spread some of that Christmas cheer in the workplace, or it might simply be a way to get into the boss’ good books, but giving a gift to your boss is perhaps as tough as travelling the world in a single night with a red-nosed reindeer as transport. Perhaps.

Present perfect: Desktop or utility items for official use make for good gifts

Draw the line

The first thing to consider, of course, is whether you should be giving a gift to your boss at all. Don’t do it just for the sake of it, because overfamiliarity with a boss you otherwise have zero rapport with will just come off as insincere. “Given that this is a professional environment, it is very critical to understand the nuances of gifting and realize the rapport you share with your boss, as one needs to be genuine to make the gift and the whole event should appear meaningful. It should not be a gesture arising out of a selfish motive," says Kiran Madan, senior manager, human resources, Intex Technologies, an IT firm in Delhi.

Many organizations also cultivate a culture of employees pooling in to give gifts, perhaps to minimize the risk of “sucking up", while acknowledging the need for celebration. “There aren’t really cases of juniors giving gifts to seniors. In fact, the opposite is more common, with bosses getting a huge box of chocolates or sweets and distributing it among their teams. When it is time to give a gift to the boss, be it a festival or birthday, usually his or her secretary will order a cake on the team’s behalf, and they jointly cut it," says Rayanne Alvares, senior executive, corporate communications, Siemens Ltd, Mumbai.

What to give

After you’ve decided whether or not it’s appropriate to give a present to your boss, you must know where to draw the line on what to give. If you know your boss well enough, and have been keeping tabs on his or her preferences and requirements, this is a good moment to utilize all that knowledge. “Avoid giving personal gift items that might lead to unnecessary awkwardness or embarrassment, and stick to simple desktop or utility items that may be used for official purposes," says V. V. Murugan, assistant vice-president, human resources, Star Union Daiichi Life Insurance Ltd, Mumbai. Stationery, a nice notepad, a year planner, photo frame or pen are some options to consider. Avoid clothing, jewellery and other personal items.

The second biggest motto should be to keep it simple and inexpensive. The idea isn’t to overwhelm your boss with a diamond-studded Mont Blanc, just to give him a token of appreciation. “A greeting card or a bouquet of flowers is a simple but great option," suggests Anil Mohan, senior vice-president, personnel and security, Jaypee Hotels, Delhi.