Boss’s Day is total BS

Boss’s Day is this week, and it’s time to kill it.

If you’ve never heard of Boss’s Day, count yourself lucky. While it hasn’t infiltrated every office in the country yet, it’s growing in popularity and spreading fast. The idea is to mark a particular day to show appreciation to managers for the work they do.

Amusingly, it turns out that Boss’s Day was created in 1958 by someone who was working for her father at the time, according to several websites. It might have been a kind (if daughterly) impulse at its start, but it’s since grown into an unwelcome obligation that many workers feel bound to celebrate – not only with cards, but with actual gifts. In fact, I regularly hear from people who have been pressured to donate cash to workplace collections to purchase expensive gifts for their managers.

It’s time for us to retire Boss’s Day. Sorry, bosses. But as a manager myself, I know all too well that the day is, well, a crock. You probably know it too. After all:

1. Bosses are … the boss. It’s not that being a manager isn’t hard work – it is. Managing often involves difficult decisions and tough conversations, and rarely is it a job that ends when you leave the office at night. But it also comes with plenty of rewards, many of them monetary. The position also comes with power dynamics that make it inappropriate to solicit recognition from people below you, especially to make them feel it’s obligatory. And speaking of obligatory…

2. Obligatory appreciation doesn’t count for much. Of course, it’s nice to hear sincere appreciation for one’s work. But one of the problems with Boss’s Day is that it makes allappreciation offered up under its auspices suspect. Managers have no way of distinguishing between the employee who’s sincerely glad for the chance to tell her boss how much she enjoys working together and the employee who is acting out of obligation (real or perceived) in an effort to maintain her standing with the person who signs her paychecks. And speaking of paychecks …

3. It creates inappropriate monetary pressure on employees. Boss’s Day observances are no longer confined to handing the boss a simple card. In many offices, the expectations have turned into celebrations that involve money – employees’ money – to buy gifts and meals. Because these are often group expenditures, employees often worry that not chipping in will make them look bad, and that kind of pressure is inappropriate in the workplace. Employees should never feel pressured to dip into their own funds to pay for a gift to the boss.

4. Good bosses don’t want gifts from their subordinates. Good bosses are sensitive to the power dynamics (and often financial disparities) that exist between managers and employees, and they don’t want employees feeling even slightly obligated to shell out for this type of thing. So the holiday ends up rewarding the bosses who don’t care that their subordinates feel pressured to give them gifts, while making the good bosses feel awkward and uncomfortable.

5. It flies in the face of etiquette. Traditional etiquette says quite clearly that any gift-giving in the workplace should be from a boss to an employee and not the other way around. The idea is that people shouldn’t feel obligated to purchase gifts for someone who has power over their livelihood, and managers shouldn’t benefit from the power dynamic in that way.

So, given all that, what should you do when Boss’s Day rolls around this Friday? Well, if you’re a manager, make it clear to your team ahead of time that you don’t expect or want your staff to do anything for the day. Of course, if someone gives you something anyway, be gracious about it – but do what you can to head it off beforehand.

And if you’re an employee in an office where people are starting to talk about taking up a collection for a Boss’s Day gift, do your co-workers the service of being the one to stand up and say: “You know, I don’t think Jane would want us to spend money on her. I vote for letting her know we appreciate her throughout the year instead.” Chances are good that most of your co-workers will appreciate it and be breathing a sigh of relief.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 152 comments… read them below }

  1. Windchime*

    From your mouth to God’s ear on this one. I seriously do not like Boss’s Day. Most of us would ignore it but there is one coworker who always wants to start up a card or a collection for a gift. I’m going to do my best to try to squelch it this year, but I always fear being viewed as selfish or non-appreciative. I am actually VERY appreciative to my boss but I try to show that all year long.

    Wish me luck.

    1. AtrociousPink*

      This. Yet I will be cooking for a potluck on Friday anyway. The office manager’s email to all staff requests “full participation.”

      We were “asked” to bring both a breakfast dish AND a dessert for later. I hope that was just bad writing and they meant “OR,” because I’m not doing both. Unless I get the morning off in which to do it.


              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                That sadly ended up breaking down (and weirdly I can’t even remember now exactly how I did it but I think there was a heavy manual component — much less traffic in those days).

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              Do you have a sql database attached to the site at all?

              You can send email from that easily enough if you set it up.

      1. Becky B*

        Speaking as someone not in your office or office culture at all (so please feel free to disregard), can you “accidentally” forget to prepare your dishes, or leave them at home the day of?

        1. Court*

          I feel like this approach would be worse than declining to contribute in the first place. It puts unnecessary strain on the coordinator of the event when there’s suddenly not enough food to feed people who are expecting to eat. It’s a lot worse to look flaky and unreliable than it is to give a firm but polite, “I won’t be able to contribute anything this year.”

          1. AtrociousPink*

            Yes, Court is right, unfortunately. Especially since I was a deadbeat last year and generally avoid work social events whenever possible. I’m afraid I have no choice this year but to knuckle under. I know how far to push the limits. But I’m still liking that saltines-and-Cheez-Whiz casserole idea.

            1. esra*

              Actual recipe from a terrible Women’s Institute cookbook I picked up;

              Cheez Fun Casserole!
              1 Jar Cheez Whiz
              2 Bags Frozen Lima Beans
              1 Cup Bread Crumbs

              Preheat oven to 350. Mix Cheez Whiz and Lima Beans, top with Bread Crumbs. Bake 35 minutes. My husband and kids love this!

              Like so many terrible WI recipes, I refuse to believe the last line is anything but a lie.

                1. esra*

                  Well, maybe you’d enjoy some…

                  Mock Raspberry Jam
                  5 cups green tomatoes, chopped
                  5 cups sugar
                  6 oz raspberry Jello

                  Boil tomatoes and sugar for ten minutes. Add Jello and boil for one minute more. Bottle and seal. This is very good.

            2. azvlr*

              I had a boss tell me about a potluck where everyone was digging on the Cheese-it hors d’oeurvres that someone had brought. My boss asked him for the recipe and supposedly, it was three chewed up Cheese-its, sandwiched between two whole Cheese-its!

              All this to say: maybe your kitchen hygiene could be called into question before you are asked to contribute again. I can picture you sharing a story about the roaches running rampant in your kitchen or the mouse you can’t seem to catch.

      2. Judy*

        I’d get a bowl of clementines to solve both problems. It’s breakfast food and dessert all in one.

        1. Sue Donem*

          I brought a 5-lb box of clementines to last year’s holiday potluck, partly out of laziness/curmudgeonly feelings toward the whole thing, and partly because no one ever brings anything healthy to these things. They were GONE by the next morning. Meanwhile, all the casseroles, chips, and crappy store-bought desserts sat around for a week before someone finally threw out the leftovers.

    2. Rebecca*

      I tried, using Alison’s reasoning about gifts flowing downward, not upward, and the power dynamic, and was told “what a terrible way to feel!”. Yep, I’m out 4 bucks, not a lot, but still – I’m being forced into this because I’d be the only one here not participating, and it looks bad.

        1. Rebecca*

          I guess I’ll get an “needs improvement” in the Works and Plays Well with Others section of my report card this quarter.

        2. Big Tom*

          I can understand what they might mean, though. To someone who sincerely thinks these things are good ideas, it can sound like “I only want to RECEIVE gifts, I can’t be bothered to GIVE them!” They’re not thinking about the power/pay differentials, just the alleged politeness.

      1. AtrociousPink*

        Same here. I didn’t do it last year, and It Was Noticed. I actually felt like the “full participation” comment was aimed at me specifically, since I was probably the only non-participant last year. I’m such a curmudgeon.

          1. OriginalYup*

            Nope — punishment.

            I once showed insufficient enthusiasm for Ugly Sweater and Hot Cocoa Day because I was under a brutal deadline, and was put in charge of the holiday games the following year.

            1. Soupspoon McGee*

              They tried to do that to me at my old job. I usually missed the holiday festivities because of grant deadlines. Didn’t matter. Twas noticed, and I was voluntold to be on the planning committee, and get all the grants, and be happy about it.

              1. Hornswoggler*

                I love ‘voluntold’ and I am stealing it and running away quickly before you notice what I’ve done.

          2. AtrociousPink*

            Too funny! At oldjob, I was the one who abstained from the first annual holiday potluck that the staff did for the bosses (who, of course, had their own holiday party that didn’t include us). The second year the holiday potluck was held, guess who was the coordinator of that juggernaut.

          3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            If you’re the organizer, can you shift the whole thing? Like instead of asking people for money, designate a wall of the break room as “appreciation wall”, put post-it’s and pens nearby, and ask everyone to write a note about what they appreciate about the boss and stick it to the wall.

            1. Court*

              Oh, that’s a really neat idea! I just organized a completely voluntary brunch and let people sign up as they wanted. No money toward gift cards or ridiculous presents, no mandatory participation; just volunteers to bring in food. It’s been really well received, thankfully! :)

      2. Green*

        I love the “What a terrible way to feel!” I am going to use it to manipulatively shut down everyone I disagree with from here on out.

      3. rdb0924*

        I’ll make room in that boat for you – if I hadn’t kicked in $5, I would be A Terrible Person.

    3. OriginalYup*

      “there is one coworker who always wants to start up a card or a collection for a gift.”

      In my experience, there’s usually one super-social-verging-on-codependent happy-fun-why-aren’t-you-in-the-spirit-yet-I’ve-sent-you-15-emails organizer in every office. And that one person is often the nexus for a lot of the resentful forced fund and inappropriate blurring of work and personal festivities. I often wonder if they’re frustrated event planners. Or lost elves from the North Pole.

      1. Almond Milk Latte*

        I have had to drink, mix, and serve a wide array of Korporate Koolaid in my day, and I hated it as much as you did. On behalf of us who’ve been “encouraged” to spread such asshattery against their will in order to get that Exceeds Expectation at the end of the quarter, I apologize.

      2. some1*

        Yeah, I’ve dealt with a lot of Cruise Directors at my jobs, too. Always women. They think because *they* love being a host and cooking for large groups that everyone else must love it, too.

        And in my case, none of my coworkers who jumped at the chance to plan any type of office party performed the tasks that they were actually being paid to do up to par – that’s the most annoying part. “No, Jane, for thr third time, I am not bringing anything to the potluck. But any chance I can get those TPS reports that were due yesterday?”

        1. Beezus*

          I think it’s a warped result of the whole pink collar thing in some cases. I think women who get pigeonholed into handling social and thankless crap, and who have the talent/drive/leadership to do more, end up exploring that part of themselves by becoming a Social and Thankless Crap Despots and try to draft other people (mostly women) into being Social and Thankless Crap Minions, and thus the cycle continues.

      3. Carrie in Scotland*

        Ah those people. The ones like Monica from Friends where she is all like “We’re supposed to start having fun in 15 minutes!”

    4. Anon Accountant*

      Ugh. Please do your best to squelch this. I’m sure there are others who will appreciate this being stopped.

  2. JoJo*

    At oldjob we made up a gift basket for our wine-loving boss. We got him a box of generic wine, a box of saltines and a can of cheez-whiz. Luckily for us, he had a great sense of humor.

    1. AtrociousPink*

      Epic! I’m thinking I could just mix up some saltines and Cheez Whiz and call it a breakfast casserole….

  3. TheBeetsMotel*

    Last year I made a card (found something humorous and industry-related in a Facebook post and it sparked the idea) and everyone signed it, but that’s as far as it went. I feel that was appropriate, but not awkward. I wouldn’t want it becoming more than that, personally.

    1. Jeanne*

      A card is the only level of appropriate gift giving to your boss. Even then some people will roll their eyes but it’s not expecting money.

  4. brightstar*

    How, as a manager, can you prevent your employees from giving gifts? Last year I was very surprised to receive a Boss’s Day gift, but felt it was rude to refuse it.

      1. Temporarily Anon*

        I’m seriously considering reposting your article on my Facebook page, though I need to figure out a way that doesn’t look passive-aggressive (I may have to go full-out “Why You Need to Stahp This Practice Post-Haste” and let the fur fly where it may).

        I have coworkers who are adamant–adamant!–about giving their bosses gifts. Birthdays, Christmas, Boss’s Day…I swear a mulish expression crosses at least one of their cheery faces when I’ve given the reasons you’ve outlined. I even include, “Think of how your boss would feel about this. You’re putting him/her in an uncomfortable position.”*

        Their response is always along the lines of how they’ve “always” given gifts in past companies and never had a problem. Well, that’s nice, but…to me, they’re thinking more about their pleasure than their boss’s.

        *Each of the bosses in question has told me privately how uncomfortable the practice makes them, but none of them are comfortable speaking up about it.

        1. Green*

          I think retirement is the only time it’s cool to give your boss a gift. It’s a one-time gift recognizing their service at the company, and there’s no real benefit to you from the “icky-you-supervise-me” dynamic since they’re retiring.

          I just generally do not like gifts in the workplace. We pretty much just go there to earn money. No need to then spend that money on workplace gifts.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            Yes, a retirement gift feels acceptable to me, as would a 100% voluntary and small gift for some life milestone (like a small baby toy if the boss had a baby – but NOT a baby shower with gifts, though a baby shower with a cake paid for by the organization would be nice and fine).

            1. SMT*

              We had a babyshower for one of my managers a couple of years ago – it actually felt kind of inappropriate to me, since I saw hourly food service employees bringing in large boxes and bags. I gave her a card and some baby washcloths, and never got a thank you note. Granted, it wasn’t a large gift or anything, but still an annoyance, and I wonder if anyone else received one.

    1. Sadsack*

      This year, you could tell your team today that you saw it on the calendar and want to assure them that you don’t expect anything this year. Tell them why, too, that you appreciate their hard work year round and that’s all you need (if that’s true!).

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      GAWD, if anyone has a good answer for this, I want to know. (Although thankfully no one in my industry seems to subscribe to the boss’s day BS — it’s more how to put the kibosh on holiday gifts.)

  5. Allison*

    I’ve never worked in an environment that observed Boss’s Day, thankfully. I don’t think I’d even know about it if it weren’t for this blog!

    1. olympiasepiriot*

      Me, neither. I work at a partnership anyhow, so I can’t imagine how that would work…there’s nine of them!

    2. Sadsack*

      Our two admins will probably bring in food. Not sure how they really feel about it, or if I should say anything. We don’t do cards or gifts, just some food.

    3. Stephanie*

      Yeah, my first job was at a federal agency, so there were pretty strict rules around boss-subordinate gift giving. So I’ve never experienced this phenomenon before.

      I could see this being a thing at my current company, however…

    4. Elizabeth West*

      They don’t do it here either, but they do Admin’s Day. I can’t complain about that one because we get gift cards and I want mine!

      My first year, I sent my bosses an email with flower pictures and “Happy Boss’s Day!” I don’t think I did anything after that. But I was super happy to have a job that wasn’t completely dysfunctional, and I think they got that I was psyched to be here.

  6. Menacia*

    I work in a department where there are 4 managers and a director. One of the managers has this “way too” close relationship with her staff, and so for every birthday, holiday, etc., they are always going to lunch, giving gifts, etc., etc. My manager and the team I work on is *very* different, we are not buddy-buddy, and never go to lunch, which is perfectly fine with all of us. My team and the other are in close proximity to each other. So the problem is that the one team will make a huge deal about Bosses Day, and we will basically ignore it. Makes for a weird environment. I hate made up days like these…ugh.

  7. Stranger than fiction*

    Thank goodness this is so not a thing here. Although, I do have one coworker who always goes out of her way to gift up to our boss on birthday and Christmas- last year she knitted a full size blanket for boss and boss looked truly shocked and uncomfortable. I finally made a comment around the holidays last year that employees were not supposed to gift upward so we shall see as this week goes on if she remembered and or got the message.

    1. Charlotte Collins*

      My bosses have received for Christmas an identical box of handmade treats that I make for my coworkers. It’s one evening worth of work. You have to be related or have a social relationship with me to get on the list that gets the big box of 10-12 different treats that takes me three or four days at home to make. (No one at work has made it to this list.)

      1. Jane, the world's worst employee*

        I’ve done this in past jobs and it has worked out very well. Last year, I made sure to give the box of treats early in the holiday season, as a subtle way to let my coworkers and former manager know the treats were my gift to them, and I would not be purchasing additional gifts.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        And expensive! Both in terms of time and yarn. You have to be related to me or getting married to get a hand-knitted afghan for a gift. (Hand-knitted baby blankets have gone to coworkers as shower gifts, but they’re lower investment. Also, since I don’t have kids it gives me an excuse to make adorable little items.)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Hahaa, that reminds me–my mum sent me a crocheted afghan at work one time at Exjob (I told her to ship it there because a big box on my stoop would just get nicked). I opened it up and took out the afghan to check it out–it is green with a scalloped tan/brown multicolored edge. Really nice–Mum’s made so many they come out perfect every time, LOL.

      Bosswife saw it and freaked out. “Oh my God, that’s really great, so PRETTY, I LOVE it,” etc. I was scared she would ask me to ask my mum to make one for her!

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        That’s when you check on what your mother charges for her handmade fiber artwork. (The term “fiber art” makes the price go up.)

  8. Jerzy*

    We never did Boss’s Day at my old job, but we would all chip in for a Christmas gift for the director we all reported to. There were more than 12 of us, and we’d all chip in $3-$5 and get him something nice. He, on the other hand, would provide each of his team with a card and gift at the holidays, which could include gift cards and fancy chocolates. In the end, he put out much more money, and no one begrudged (as far as I know) the small contribution. He was an awesome boss who treated everyone with professional respect, and let us know how much he appreciated our work on a regular basis.

    1. SL #2*

      Sounds like my boss, who goes all out for us on birthdays and Christmas and gives great, consistent feedback year-round, but makes it very clear that she did not want the same when her birthday and the holidays roll around. The one time we didn’t listen was when we made a care package for her, but that was an extraordinary circumstance, not an annual thing!

  9. Charlotte Collins*

    I just started reporting to a new manager a couple months ago. She may or may not be surprised to realize that my 2-person department doesn’t do anything for Boss’ Day. (It seems to be a Thing with some people around here.) But she has other people reporting to her, so they can pick up the slack if they want to…

  10. Lionelrichiesclayhead*

    My second week at the new job and things are going great! But, I came in this morning to an email about signing a card for boss’ s day which made me groan. But then someone chimed in about getting balloons as well. Doh! This wasn’t a thing at my old job. Not sure if it’s a regular thing here or just my group.

  11. F.*

    I fortunately don’t work in an office that celebrates Boss’ Day. Our boss knows we appreciate him because we treat him with (well-earned) respect. We used to have a fresh-out-of-college HR Manager who thought it was fun to celebrate everyone’s birthday with a cake and song while being held captive in the conference room, despite having people who did not want their birthdays celebrated for various reasons, including religious. Engineers do not stand around singing “Happy Birthday” willingly. I thought I was back in Kindergarten.
    I would also like to see Administrative Professionals’ Day go the way of the dinosaur. When I was an Admin, I found it patronizing. My boss was a bit%h the rest of the year but could be counted on to give me some heavily scented products I couldn’t possibly use every year for Admin’s Day. It was also hard to know where to draw the line regarding exactly who was an “administrative professional”, and that made for some hard feelings. Management should treat their administrative support with gratitude and respect EVERY day of the year!

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Oh gawd the bday singing in the conference room! We have one of those happening today too, thankfully not for me.

    2. yourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

      Administrative professionals day makes me angry- its the same day as Phlebotomist day but im always left out. all of them are outrageous but my network celebrates EVERYTHING down to midwifery day so after 4 years of Administrative assistances getting prizes, lunches and gift cards but us phlebs being ignored I have an strong dislike for that day.

    3. Harriet Vane Wimsey*

      Right on Administrative Professionals Day. So stupid! I had an admin (although the company gave her a manager title so they could claim she was exempt) that would not not help anyone with anything because “I have an MBA.” She lined right up to glom onto anything being given for A P D and would get SO OFFENDED if she was not included with the idiotic massages and/or pedicures! Just do your work, get a fair pay, and go home and enjoy your family. I HATE THIS CRAP!

    4. nep*

      Oh, man — That birthday thing. That is terrible. I would slip out and not show up in the conference room. I don’t observe my birthday and that should be respected.

  12. Stranger than fiction*

    And guess what I just got a chat msg about? I made my point ala Alisons advice and I’m sure they’re talking behind my back what a Scrooge I am but I said a card should suffice…we’ll see if I’m vetoed or they take my advice.

  13. yourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

    Our department is spread our between 11 health centers- one phlebotomist per center and 4 in the office we have our monthly staff meeting Monday and one of the office girls had decided that we are all bringing a fall themed snack to celebrate.
    *first of all that’s 15 people bringing snacks- that’s too much food
    *the staff meetings normally only take 20 min, this is going to make everything last longer
    *I don’t eat unhealthy food- they are bringing cookies, pie and other sugar filled stuff that I most certainly will be openly criticized for not eating
    *I don’t like them, I come, sit in a corner, listen to them talk about the same things they’ve been talking about for 4 years and I leave.
    I think I forgot that our meeting is Monday, maybe im sick or have car trouble. maybe my boss will read this because I am on the work computer during work hours and she will excuse me from attending the meeting…..

    1. LQ*

      I think it’s weird you call them office girls (unless they are actually like 8, in which case adorable but not likely good for health care!)
      When people at your office do this does everyone actually bring in food? That’s a crazy lot of food! Especially snacks. Good grief.
      I’ve got a group of people who both try to set up food things like this often, and complain about unhealthy foods. So I’ve tried to switch to bringing in healthier snacks. I almost always have to take all the healthy snack home and the sugary/fatty/chocolatey thing always disappears. I’ve just quit bringing anything, no one complains. So my strategy is go healthy and then stop, apparently.

      1. pope suburban*

        Welp, I think that’s one of the reasons the holiday is so terrible. It contributes, as Alison noted, to the dismissal and disrespect of people working in these jobs. People talk to me like I’m a child, or like I’m stupid (and lazy!) all the time, and no, frankly, a $5 Starbucks gift card once a year will not do anything to make that less inappropriate and horrible. People see this kind of thing– yes, even if one assumes they are in their positions because they are not very bright, perceptive, or motivated– and it gets old. For myself, it’s hard enough to be doing a job I don’t enjoy anything about without people constantly taking digs at me. Alison is 100% right about getting rid of the holiday and reforming how we think about admin work.

      2. yourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist*

        I call them girls naturally, probably because they act like they’re 8. Its really a toxic environment, im working with a fractured wrist rather than work in the office with them. I had head phones in listening to music last week when I was doing office “light duty” work and turned the song off so I could listen to a voicemail I got and ended up hearing them all talking about me and my injury- it was caused by a dog, the speculated that it was actually abuse from an affair that they imagined. Im married and not having an affair… *phones and internet access are completely fine and normal at my job.

  14. Anon for this*

    In the past I have acquired and circulated cards for Boss’s Day. No one is expected to contribute money or time beyond that needed to sign the card and pass it on. This year someone else is coordinating a potluck. Totally voluntary. Our workplace loves potlucks, so eberyone benefits (those who like to cook get to cook; those who like to eat get to eat).

    I personally don’t object to the idea of recognizing good bosses because having truly good bosses can really have a huge impact on a workplace. But I would feel weird about anything beyond a card, a potluck, or some other low/no cost, voluntary, low commitment way of doing it. Forced participation, a big gift, etc. defeats the point.

    1. Court*

      ^^ This. Potlucks are very much the way to go in our office. I think past years have included gift cards, but I nixed that as quickly as I could.

      1. Harriet Vane Wimsey*

        Does anyone but me have an issue with potlucks because I don’t know how clean people’s kitchens are? Or is that just my germphobia?

        1. anonanonanon*

          I feel the same. This is actually why I prefer catered events at work or parties where food is bought from a store or bakery. My mum’s school instituted an unopened food items policy for holiday parties awhile back for various reasons, but part of it was germs.

          I love baking and I appreciate when other people want to share food they made, but I don’t know if they washed their hands before cooking or pet the cat and now there’s cat hair accidentally in the food (and I say this as someone who owns a longhaired dog that sheds a lot. I refuse to bring food I bake places on the off chance that theres a stray dog hair in there).

        2. nep*

          Same here. I take it as far as not wanting to eat at restaurants. Can’t stand the thought of it — never know exactly how that food was handled before it was set in front of you. I’ll prepare my own food, thank you.

        3. Guera*

          What’s especially stomach-turning is when a coworker gleefully announces “my kids helped me make them!”. I know what that means…sneezing, coughing, talking over the food while it’s being prepared not to mention the fingers that are being licked throughout the whole process. NO thanks!

          1. Charlotte Collins*

            I think for some people, this is the case, but when my dad was teaching me to bake, part of that for me was definitely learning good kitchen hygiene. (Then again, his first job was as a busboy in a very exclusive club, and his grandmother and grandfather had both cooked professionally, and bother his parents were accomplished home bakers, so I might have been an outlier.)

  15. MaryMary*

    I only celebrated Boss’s Day once at OldJob. We realized it was Boss’s Day the morning off and felt like we should do something (my manager was a great boss), so we bought her a latte and cookie from Starbucks. She laughed, teased us about being brown nosers, and told us Boss’s Day was a made up, BS, greeting card holiday.

  16. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

    I had never heard of Boss’s Day either until now. Hope I don’t go to work tomorrow & find a message about celebrating!

    I do hate the Christmas gifting for my boss though. I am in a very small family business. It started out years ago with a small food gift for the 3 bosses. Now, years later, we are giving gift certificates for nice restaurants that have to cover dinner for their spouses also. No matter how often I say this is not appropriate. And no , can’t refuse to participate. There are now only 2 bosses & 3 employees including me. And it’s gone on for years. Ugh.

  17. Jane, the world's worst employee*

    Ugh, how timely – I just got an email this morning from one of my co-workers. They want to purchase our manager (who I like very much) a very expensive gift. I really, really wanted to send my co-worker a link to this article…but I chickened out and said that I’m broke right now because I’m in the process of buying a house and have no extra money. Co-worker took it well. My other co-worker simply ignored the request all together.

    1. Court*

      I’m actually glad you specified that you do like your manager because that raises my main problem with Boss’s Day. Not contributing to a gift does not mean you hate your manager. The idea that Boss’s Day perpetuates is that gifts are the only way to convince your boss that you don’t hate them, and that’s ridiculous. Good managers will get good results. That should be enough of an indicator, right? And I think, as Alison has pointed out, that it is enough for reasonable managers.

      (And I definitely think you should send out that article via Alison’s wording.)

      1. James M*

        Exactly. And besides, if that’s the message you really want to convey, call a florist and order a “I Don’t Hate You” bouquet.

  18. Carrie in Scotland*

    Is this just a US trend? I have never seen it in the UK* but perhaps some of my fellow European commenters have.


    * have seen secretaries day though.

    1. Worker Bee (Germany)*

      Thankfully neither one of them in Germany… But give it sometime and we’ll have it too. *Shudder* At least that is what happened over the years with Halloween…

  19. eplawyer*

    I’m the boss and I darn well expect something from my employee.

    I’m the employee I’m not getting that pain in the neck anything for Boss’s Day.

  20. J*

    I think part of the spread in popularity is because people want to kiss up so they don’t get fired or laid off. So the expression of gratitude isn’t even genuine.

  21. Anon Accountant*

    If someone is set on doing something for Boss’s Day (which I’d advise against) would it be possible to do something light such as have donuts, bagels or fruit in a common area? An email of “there are donuts/bagels in the kitchen area if anyone is interested” would be nice and it isn’t restricted to just bosses. It’d be a compromise of sorts.

    We did this last year when an employee was set on buying gifts for each of 5 partners but was upset no one was going to contribute much to get decent gifts for them. Finally we each pooled a few dollars and had bagels, donuts and fruit. There’s about 20 of us total though and everyone seemed to enjoy and it was inclusive to staff and the partners. More of a “day with snacks” than Boss’s Day. Can you tell we like food? :)

  22. Nobody Here By That Name*

    I make sure my direct reports know that any gifts should be from me to them, and that this holiday is BS.

    What boggles my mind is an SVP in my company who makes a 7 figure salary who takes Boss’s Day gifts from his employees, one of whom is a single mother of 2. IDEK.

  23. wannabefreelancer*

    I am so thankful for articles like these. At my old company, boundaries were incredibly blurred. I was out at least $100 each holiday season for my team alone. I was low many on totem pole and I bought all of my higher-ups gifts. (To be fair, I was VERY green and out of college, so I thought this is what we did – AND I barely had the funds to do it!)

  24. Tax Nerd*

    Ugghh! I’ve only observed Boss’s Day in a sarcastic way, and then only twice. One sarcastic Shoebox card when I was already leaving the boss, and one year we made a “card” out of copier paper and colorful pens.

    As a middle-manager, I feel guilty when staff do this. I know I make more money than them. Many are still dealing with student loans, and a rapidly increasing cost of living in this city. They don’t need to spend a dime on me. Nor should they waste their free time, which is very limited, especially around a tax deadline.

    The one time a staff gave me a gift in a way that I couldn’t refuse, it was Christmas. I ended up buying them a Visa gift card of equivalent value, and having an awkward convo about not buying gifts for people up the food chain.

    Oh, and can I go on record that having a “connection” to get something for free doesn’t make it okay? If your parents own a winery or a golf store, a gift that retails for $200 but is free to you doesn’t really ease the awkwardness. You still shouldn’t be giving gifts upwards, and far worse, your coworkers are going to start feeling obligated to give a commensurate gift. If they don’t have connections, they may feel like they have to go out of pocket. This will ratchet up the awkwardness exponentially. Please do not do this!

    While I appreciate the gesture is usually coming from a good place, the awkwardness I feel far exceeds any pleasure from any gift from the staff. Nevermind the awkwardness from fellow teammates, who may not have the spare cash or inclination to participate.

  25. Mirilla*

    Thank God we don’t celebrate this where I work, because I would not participate, however the annual Christmas gift is coming up and somehow I ended up in charge of it last year. I’d really really like to do away with it this year (assuming I’m still working there – I am job searching). The problem is everyone has been doing it for years…how on earth do I put an end to this.

    1. Winter is Coming*

      I used advice I got from this site last year for the same situation. I knew that if I just stopped, some people wouldn’t be too happy about it. So, I sent out ONE e-mail (vs. any follow up reminders), saying that if anyone wanted to make a donation to the boss’s favorite charity (he sits on the board of a local breast cancer foundation), then they could do so through me in lieu of a Christmas gift. He absolutely LOVED this, more than anything we’d ever given him in the past. I sent them a check, and everyone was happy. It was great idea that the commenters here had, it satisfied the people that wanted to give him something, yet we didn’t really give him anything but a good feeling that his charity was being supported.

      We are on pay cuts this year though, so I will not be asking for anything. I think he’d be mortified if we did anything under the circumstances. Maybe I can use this as my stopping point. We’ll see.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do you know for a certainty that everyone in your place celebrates Christmas? If no, use that. “I think that not everyone here celebrates Christmas the way some of us do. So instead of doing our traditional Christmas present for the boss, I would like to do something more inclusive.” Then launch into an idea you have. I thought of setting up something where people who want to can bring in treats to share on New Year’s Eve day.

    3. SojournHR*

      At several workplaces, I have suggested adopting a family or giving to a charity instead of this dumb round-robin of gifts. It’s ridiculous for person A to buy a gift card to store A for person B; person B to buy one at store B for person C and person C to buy one at store C for person A. Please!!!!! People actually signed on to this donor idea for a few years. It kind of wears out after a while but by then you can be out of the habit of giving all those little worthless two-bit gifts to everyone. How many candles and ornaments does a person need!!!!!!!!!! Everyone can call me Scrooge. I call myself rational and practical.

  26. meower*

    I don’t celebrate any Blank’s Day type holidays except Cat’s Day. That is celebrated every day at my house.

    Seriously though, when I had a long term temp admin assistant job I didn’t get to go to the Secretary’s Day lunch because temporary, but still was expected to contribute five dollars to bosses day. I didn’t feel appreciated.

    1. F.*

      According to, National Cat Day is October 29. See, we all have time to go buy presents for our favorite feline family members! (This comment typed by Charlie, Feline Extraordinaire and Mistress of the House and All Who Reside in It!)

  27. Thankful in Texas*

    In my case, I have to disagree with you. Six months ago I was being laid off (our work was being transitioned to a corporate site) from a job I truly loved for 8 years. A wonderful person heard I was on the RIFT list and contacted me two days before my last day and asked if I was interested in working for him in a new department. He gave me an increase in pay and I got to stay with the company I love working for. I will be forever grateful to him for his kindness and you bet I bought him a card and his favorite candy for Bosses Day!

  28. Dr. Pepper Addict*

    Something I’d like to point out also is that 99% of the time, bosses make more money than their employees. So asking employees to purchase something for a boss who makes more money than they do and could probably purchase the same thing on their own – if they truly wanted it – doesn’t make sense.

    Thanks for this Alison, I hope the rest of the world catches on.

  29. Not So NewReader*

    When I was little, I asked my father about grandparent’s day, mother’s day, and father’s day. I wanted to know why there wasn’t a “parent’s day”. Wisely, my father said, “Everyday is parent’s day.” Meaning that parents are running the show, they are making the decisions and reaping the rewards of those decisions.

    Likewise, everyday is boss’ day. Employees work all day long to make things go the way the boss thinks things should go. Bosses have the autonomy to make their own decisions and when things go well, they benefit from their own decisions. Meanwhile, employees are doing their damnedest to make it all go right.
    I’m in favor of saying “thanks for being a good boss”, it costs nothing but means a lot.

  30. JanetPlanet*

    I hate that Boss’ Day is a thing. Thankfully I’m on maternity leave, so I don’t have to decline to participate in the gift giving this year. But I know my co-workers are planning a potluck breakfast and buying a spa gift card for our boss.
    Last year, our boss forgot it was Teacher Appreciation Week and didn’t say anything to us about it the entire week. A week later she organized a lunch out, but we each had to pay for our own lunches and she gave us each large decorative metal keys as appreciation gifts.
    I don’t like gifting up in the first place, but it’s even more “wrong” when the boss forgets her employees’ appreciation day!

  31. Sayrasomething*

    My (thankfully) former boss highlighted it on the manager schedule. New boss crossed it out with an appropriate eyeroll. Old boss was definitely the type to need constant praise and coddling, even though he was extremely wrong for the position, and our location greatly suffered for it. He would have expected a Grand Event.

  32. Lily Rowan*

    Boss’s Day has never come up in my current job, but I’m a semi-new manager of a team, and now I think it would be hilarious to send this around all, “I KNOW you were planning something elaborate for me, but PLEASE, don’t bother!”

  33. SojournHR*

    You don’t have to participate in these things. I’m the one working while everyone else has time to party so they can bring their own food. Just say No.

  34. Allie*

    I am totally excited about Boss’s Day. I have worked for several I couldn’t stand for years and would suck it up when asked to hand over money to one of those brown nosing co workers, for a boss’s that I couldn’t stand.. The guys I work for now, more than likely, don’t even know it is Boss’s day Friday. But they will when they arrive to the office Friday morning. I am the only female working in a office of about 6 other employees (so we are pretty small) of a mechanical bone yard that purchases large commercial machinery. I was hired with no experience in the field at all. All of my education and work experience was in social services. These guys guided me and taught me the industry with lots of patience and positive understanding. When they decided to renovate our building they gave me a restroom in my office because they thought I may need a little extra privacy and cleanliness. Its never been held over my head, when I need to take a day off, when I am running late, or need to leave a little early for personal matters. They work as hard as everyone else and sometimes even harder. My Boss’ have always spoke to me with respect and kindness and include me every project.
    I hope some of the terrible boss’s read my comment. Because, in return, I love coming to work everyday and never miss a day unless its a true emergency. I am able to work in a office that is totally stress free and that means I get double my work done. I would rather stay at the office through my lunch because going any place out, is more stressful than being here. We do not have gossip, rumors or lies floating around the office because they have set a great example of being team players and we all work together as a team and are respectful of one another. So, anyways.. I will celebrate Boss’s day with a big smile on my face..

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