Boss’s Day is a crock and we need to kill it off

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

Sorry, bosses. But the day is a crock. Here’s why:

1. The power dynamics are all messed up.

It’s not appropriate to solicit recognition from people below you, especially when they feel it’s obligatory! Plus, many offices have started doing celebrations that involve money – employees’ money – to buy gifts and meals. Because these are often group expenditures, people 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.

2. Obligatory appreciation is silly anyway.

Of course it’s nice to hear sincere appreciation for one’s work. But any appreciation offered under the auspices of Boss’s Day is inherently suspect. Managers have no way of distinguishing between an employee who’s sincerely glad for the chance to tell her boss how much she enjoys working together and an employee who is acting out of obligation (real or perceived) in an effort to maintain her standing with the person who signs her paychecks.

3. 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.

4. Etiquette forbids it.

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.

How to Get Out of Boss’s Day In Your Office

If you work in an office where people are talking about taking up a collection for a Boss’s Day gift, do your coworkers 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.” Or just send them this article! Chances are good that most of your coworkers will appreciate it and be breathing a sigh of relief.

And 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.

I adapted this from a piece I published at U.S. News & World Report back in 2015.

{ 217 comments… read them below }

  1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    Ooooh. I didn’t realize this was tomorrow and (coincidentally) scheduled a brief staff meeting for first thing tomorrow, so guess I am bringing everyone donuts. :)

    (Because, gifts should flow down!)

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        It’s a pretty informal (and non-mandatory!) meeting, but yes, all the more reason!

    1. TootsNYC*

      that’s what I did for my birthday once at a job that celebrated birthdays, and I was in charge of organizing it.

      For other people’s, I was OK with sending an email around to say, “Does anyone want to bring in treats? And here’s a card to sign.” (we bought some treats, but often the people who worked closely with someone would decide to bake something)

      I couldn’t bring myself to do that for mine, so **I** baked and brought in food.
      Like grade school!

      I’ve never worked somewhere that there was a boss’s day, but if it were a thing around me, that’s what I’d do. I’d co-opt it to be “the day I get to be the best kind of boss.”
      So I’d bring the treats, and maybe I’d have one-on-ones to say, “here’s what I like about your work.”

      (That’s what I do for Mother’s Day–my MIL and DH were always wanting to take the kids off my hands so I could go to a spa or something. I was like, “no, this is when I want to BE a mother–but with only the good parts, like playing with my kids, and no homework or chores or whining.”)

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        I think that a strategy for “I’ll bring my own darned treats for my own darned birthday … if I choose to celebrate with all of you” is a much better and natural scenario for the office environment, as opposed to the obligatory interruption of birthday cake in the middle of the day.

        A card, if a person chooses to be in the card trading circle, is fun. A chance to have something festive on your desk for a little while.

        Requiring people to chip in on a cake that may or may not be the birthday person’s choice, and will otherwise require everyone to stand around awkwardly until they can grab a piece and scurry away back to their desk, not so much.

        And I’m not even a curmudgeon. I just do my celebrating with people of my choice, in my own way. And I love free office cake. But putting control in the hands of the grown up who is celebrating seems to make things fairer for all.

        1. TimeTravelR*

          A co-worker and I shared a birthday so we did this…. brought treats instead of others doing it. It was fairly traditional at that workplace to do birthday treats (and we all looked like it!). But she and I thought it would be fun to mix it up a bit!

        2. PepperVL*

          I worked at a place where the tradition was, if you want to celebrate your birthday, you bring in treats and you decide who you tell about them. That way, each person was in control of how big of a deal was made out of their birthday and there were no hard feeling because coworkers brought in more for someone else. It worked much better than any other way I’ve seen it done.

        3. MAC*

          This is how it works at my current job. It’s up to the birthday person to decide how (or even IF) they want to celebrate. We only have 12 staff, so it’s not a big burden, and it results in a nice variety of treats. One person does a different taste test each year (potato chips, ice cream, Oreo flavors). Another made taco soup for lunch. I made a sinful chocolate concoction and held a “Life’s Short, Eat Dessert First” party at 10:30am.

          I’ve been at this office just over a year, and in my 28 year career it’s the first place I’ve been that handles it like this and honestly, it’s my favorite. It’s so much less stressful to be in charge than to wonder what/if co-workers might do, and act bashfully grateful while eating carrot cake that you hate.

      2. Door Guy*

        While I’d heard of Boss’s Day before, I’ve never actually seen anywhere practice it. Today, however, our service coordinator was looking at the calendar to schedule something, snorted, and said “Hey boss, it’s Boss’s Day tomorrow!” We laughed, and that was the end of it.

        It was a good celebration.

    2. TimeTravelR*

      That’s a great idea! I think we pissed our grandboss off today so i highly doubt he will bring us donuts! LOL So glad I work in an industry where it’s considered an ethics violation to give a gift to your boss.

  2. Construction Safety*

    “I adapted this from a piece I published at U.S. News & World Report back in 2015.”

    Yet, here we are. . .

    1. Ashley*

      We all need to do a better job promoting Alison’s work. Before this blog I never thought much about the day and am now horrified by it.

  3. Oh No She Di'int*

    I also think this “holiday” is a crock and wouldn’t allow it in my workplace.

    But I do wonder about the appropriateness of employees who–completely unbidden–just up and offer their manager a gift on some random day. I once had an employee give me a watch. It was one that had been given to my employee as a gift but didn’t fit that person’s style. So it was a regift. It’s also not unheard of for me to receive some little trinket as a memento when people go on vacation–say a little polished rock from such-and-such National Park, for example, or a pencil from the Museum of Thus-and-So.

    I’ve tried to be gracious about these, including attempting to refuse the watch–until it just started to seem insulting not to take it. But I wonder if I should be doing more to discourage these sorts of gestures?

    1. LawBee*

      Those don’t bother me as much as a seemingly obligatory Gift To the Boss. The watch is a little much but a pencil or cute stone? That’s fine, imo.

    2. ELWM73*

      As someone who is firmly against Boss’s Day, this kind of little gift does not bother me because (with the exception of the watch) it is a token gift and likely one of many bought and given to all coworkers as a, “Thanks for covering my duties so I could take my trip.”

    3. Phoenix*

      I think the scale and the context probably matter a lot. When I went to a specific museum on a shared favorite subject while on vacation, I brought back small but relevant gifts for my boss and my coworker, who at the time was the only other member of my department – think novelty pens and magnets, but on subjects I knew they’d enjoy. We’ve all brought back snacks and coffee from vacations before, so this felt in the same vein – and it helped that it was only the three of us.

    4. Jamie*

      The little trinkets are fine if people want that, but I definitely wouldn’t accept anything of value including the watch.

      It’s not insulting to tell someone it’s not appropriate for a manager to accept gifts like that, and if they chose to be offended that’s their problem.

      1. Longtime Lurker*

        When I was pregnant with my first kid, I was the manager of a team that was made up of all men in their 20s. They figured out that my pregnant lady kryptonite was a specific kind of cookie from a shop down the street from our office. The first time they brought me one after lunch I insisted on giving them the $1.50, but they seemed really disappointed because they were all pleased with themselves for thinking of getting me one. So afterwards, every other week or so, I would accept my favorite cookie when we had a busy day.
        A few years later — after I’d left that job but one of my team had stayed on — he told me that when his wife was pregnant, he liked to bring home cookies from the same bakery. :)
        I was a young manager and didn’t want to blur boundaries, but sometimes a cookie is just a cookie, if it’s given freely and without obligation.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I think when it’s a group thing, that helps too. And it’s more “we thought of you as a human being” and less “we’re giving you A Gift because you are Our Boss.”

          1. Jedi Squirrel*

            “we thought of you as a human being” was my thought too. Pregnancy isn’t easy, and it’s nice when people go out their way for you.

          2. Quickbeam*

            well, I hate getting strong armed by the Polly Planners on my team Bosses Day. They’ve tried to shame me into participating. I just say leave me off the card and it horrifies them.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          The sweetest thing that anyone has ever done for me was buy me a gourmet chocolate from a local shop and leave it on my desk with a lovely “Happy birthday” note.

          When it’s a cookie or a piece of candy, it’s really just a sweet gesture in the end that shouldn’t be denied.

          I liken it to back in grade school, I was the kid that stopped to pick flowers from my mom’s garden to take to my teachers. It was also acceptable to bring in a candy bar or something that’s very small but packs a powerful message.

    5. TootsNYC*

      at Christmas once, my deputy said, “I know you say that gifts shouldn’t flow upward, but I don’t care, you have to accept this Christmas present anyway.”

      Just recently our dept. was re-org’d, and while I have one person who reports to me, I don’t actually do his review; I’m almost more of a project manager.

      And I think he seized that change as an opportunity to give me a token Christmas gift, because when I was a true department head, he didn’t.

      In those cases, I figured the gracious thing was to accept. But it felt awkward.

      If I had a really good relationship with my boss, I could see something like, “let’s all pitch in a buck or two and get a replacement for that mug she loved and broke.” That would have me willing to pitch in, and I’d be OK accepting it. But if you were going to do it, it shouldn’t be more than a token.

      In fact, that might be a way to push back–sometimes it’s easier to steer than to stop. So saying, “it’s just so awkward to give anything of real value. He’s always buying Skittles from the vending machine; let’s just give him a box of Skittles, if everybody who wants to, pitches in a small amount. And we can just say it’s from the staff, because if someone doesn’t want to pitch in, we don’t want to create something awkward.”

      With the watch–it may be more a case of “I got a freebie I can’t use; I’m passing it along” and less “I’m giving you a valuable present.” That would be OK, to me. Especially if it was a freebie that came because of work.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Souvenirs are completely reasonable.

      I once bought water bottles from a charity event that I attended. It was because I wanted to purchase their items so that it would go to the charity but I don’t need 12 water bottles, lol. So I went around and “gifted” to everyone, including the big bosses because they shouldn’t be left out just because of their position. I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase them an individualized gift for a commercial holiday but I come back from vacation with trinket gifts for everyone, “I got us all these silly pencils with animals on them from the aquarium!” style. I view that no different than bringing donuts in for the team and the boss enjoying one.

      It’s the scale, it’s all about the scale in the end.

      1. starsaphire*

        100% agree about scale.

        Homemade cookies? Absolutely. $1 souvenirs from Jellystone Park? Sure. Especially if you brought them for the whole team or your whole cube row, and include the boss.

        Bigger/expensive gifts, no.

        (…and now I’m craving homemade cookies…)

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I don’t bake.

          But I’m a sucker for a sale. So when I’m grabbing lunch at the grocery store and see the cookies on sale, I’m like “Sounds like the crew is getting cookies today!” I mean they’re $5 a dozen and I send more on bird seed or cat treats, lol.

  4. Linzava*

    I’ve only ever contributed to bosses day once. The office manager pushed it on us for the CEO, who was universally disliked. A few employees didn’t have the money and she complained about paying more of the share for months and was pretty vindictive to those employees. I know for a fact, one of those employees was supporting a family on his income alone and the CEO in question found ways to keep this employees commission whenever possible.

    It was an uncomfortable and avoidable situation where a middle boss used subordinates money to make herself look better and the most financially strapped employees were punished. I agree, please end this “holiday”.

  5. Witchy Human*

    According to my single Google search, October 16 is also ​National Liqueur Day. Let’s celebrate that one.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s pretty easy to get them established, lol.

          I learned this because one of the women from Vanderpump Rules did it for her “outfit of a day”

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m cackling because you are joking but I’ve drank with just about all of my bosses.

        My last holiday party at one one place ended up in “smuggled” in tequila by my boss. It ended well with drunken air hockey with his kids.

    1. glitterdome*

      Now that’s a holiday I will gladly support!!!

      We did Bosses Day yesterday, or rather the office that I am peripherally linked to did. No gifts, collection, or anything, just we brought in breakfast. Someone did eggs, another bacon, etc. And while I’m not a fan of Bosses Day, everyone else wanted to do it and it’s always pretty low key so I just go along. I do not do anything for my actual boss(es) though.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      16th October is my birthday (still today, in my time zone) so I agree you should all have liqueurs to celebrate. And thank you for the heads up because I shall now have a birthday liqueur too. Perhaps green Chartreuse…

  6. Murphy*

    We’re having a lunch tomorrow for boss’s day, ugh. I don’t know who’s paying for it, but thankfully I’ve only been asked to sign a card and show up. I’m uncomfortable, but relatively new, so I don’t feel like I have standing to say anything. Had I actually been asked to contribute something though, I might have.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Hopefully your company is paying for it! Do they do Administrative Professionals day as well? Lots of places will do these kind of “appreciation” days or weeks and it’s expensed. So it’s like “Everyone is invited to celebrate our leadership” but really it’s the same as if they were celebrating their biggest sales month with catering.

    2. GRA*

      Yes please update us in the Friday thread if they paid or if you had to pay … I feel like any company who celebrates Boss’s Day probably thinks their employees will cover the bill, too.

  7. Wing Leader*

    Oh yeah, I’ve been through the usual rigmarole of it all this year. I’ve given my money to the collections plate to buy boss a Big Gift, and I’m getting up early tomorrow to cook because everyone (and by everyone, I mean all the admins) is supposed to bring a dish tomorrow morning so we can serve breakfast to the executives. Any attempts to stand up to this tradition in the past have been shot down. I have to do it every single year whether I like it or not.

    1. [insert witty username here]*

      Sending much sympathy. I would be super on board with printing out copies of this article and leaving it in conspicuous places for the organizer of your craptastic event to find.

    2. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “we can serve breakfast to the executives”

      Is “butler” part of the job description? :-O

      1. WellRed*

        I seriously hope by serve she doesn’t actually mean like a waitperson. But she probably does. sigh.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Why would you want to continue to work somewhere that disrespected you every single year like this? I’m serious, is this the only place in town? Do you work in some backwoods town with a bunch of jackholes that run the entire place?!

    4. Bad Janet*

      omg. I would get petty and passive aggressive AF.

      1: If I was hourly, I would add those hours spent cooking onto my time sheet.

      2: I would not cook well. A little over/under done, spices a little unbalanced – or not at all and completely bland, or low sugar/awful sugar substitutes. No “bad cooking” that would actually HARM (like undercooked meat)…just, not good.

      3: If this culminated in someone saying “just buy something” I would expense report that ish. Eff it all. I would become known as the one whose food you just don’t want to eat. “I just don’t know how to cook” much like the convenient sort of ineptitude that keeps people from learning how to use the printer, or some necessary work-related software.

      (And even if you’re known as a good cook, you just “tried a new recipe,” and next year your oven “seems off, maybe it needs calibration,” the next year “I was in the middle of cooking and my dog got really sick and we had to make a trip to the all-hours vet. Fido is doing ok now and I tried to salvage my dish but I don’t know if I succeeded…” etc…there’s always a convenient way for cooking to go wrong)

      1. Dancing Otter*

        I have a raisin bran muffin recipe for these occasions. The people I like, I warn.
        They’re delicious, and all the experts say people should eat more fiber, right?
        If the office piggy eats too many and suffers the natural consequences, it isn’t MY fault, is it?

    5. JustaTech*

      Gad, that’s awful.
      Now I think I understand why my company developed this big thing about being “served by leadership”. I don’t know how it started, but now it means that any time we have a BBQ at the office the people grilling are the big bosses. (And after the raw chicken incident many years ago they only cook sausages and not-meat sausages.)

      I wonder if some senior person saw something like what Wing Leader is subject to and decided “no way”. That would be nice.

  8. Edianter*

    I am the newest member of a team of 5, we all report to the same manager. He is a good manager and our whole team gets along well and enjoys working together.

    This will be my second Boss’s Day while working here, but some of the people on my team have worked with him for more than a decade. They celebrate Boss’s Day every year with a gift card for him. It would appear obvious (and almost hostile, which I don’t intend) if I were the only one of the 5 people to abstain from contributing. And if I were to suggest we stop the practice altogether, it would really ruffle some feathers, since I’m the newest hire and this has been going on for several years in a row.

    Both years, I’ve been asked to contribute $25 to the gift card (which means my boss is getting a $125 gift card from us annually). $25 isn’t uncomfortable for me or for anyone else on my team–we’re in a well-paid field. It’s more the principle of the thing that drives me crazy. But I don’t feel like I have enough standing to speak up among my teammates, and I don’t want to appear like I’m the only one on the team who “doesn’t appreciate” our manager (even though I totally do!).

    So I guess I’m coughing up another $25.

    1. Lance*

      $25? It’d be one thing for them to celebrate Boss’s Day with a lunch or whatever, but $25 per person? That’s just ridiculous.

      1. Thornus*

        Ho ho ho hoooooo…

        At my old really bad job, the bosses/owners’ son worked there in a junior clerking role that in the typical hierarchy was quite beneath my role (he didn’t have the required post-graduate degree or required license). Well, this office had the unfortunate policy of gifts flowing upwards (expected contributions for birthdays, Christmas, and even Boss’s Day), and these were essentially mandatory since either the son or the owner’s mom who worked there went around collecting the money.

        Well my last year there, I decided I wasn’t going to contribute for Christmas. I was planning on quitting just after New Years’ anyway, and I had already burnt other bridges while still on the island. Anyway, a few days before the office holiday “party” (five minute gathering then BACK TO WORK), the son went around soliciting everyone for money. I walked in the door that day, and he immediately said people were contributing $40 PER BOSS and asked if I would. I said I would have to check my finances. Around lunch, he asked if I was contributing and stated that people were contributing $50 per boss (yes, it had gone up $10 in about three hours). I reiterated I would have to check my finances. I eventually gave only $5 per just to have the right to sign the card. I was never given the card to sign.

        Prior to giving the money, I had heard the bosses and him talking about how they were going to have a lowkey Christmas, not much gift giving, $5 limit per person, etc., so I had the sneaking suspicion he was using the office to subsidize his gift to his parents. Turned out I was right. At the holiday “party,” the bosses were given personalized gift baskets with blankets, socks, books, wine, spa gift cards, etc in them. There were also cards for each boss. I was never given the card to sign. The son kept going on about how much he thought each boss would like the personalized gifts. Comments like “Well I wanted to get you [ITEM IN BASKET].”

        The only gifts given were from the office workers to the bosses. There were no bonus checks or even Hickory Farm baskets given downward. I quit when I got back from my Christmas vacation one week later.

        1. Roy G. Biv*

          That is nuts – shaking down your employees. “Family” and “racketeering,” but not necessarily in the Don Corleone sense.

          1. Thornus*

            Oh I forgot about one Boss’s Day. One boss typically got in about 10 to 10:30. We didn’t do the dumb Boss’s Day “celebration” until around 2 PM. It was sandwiches or something like that. The senior boss then made a comment like “oh since there wasn’t anything this morning, I was worried we weren’t going to do anything!”

            And he actually meant it that way. Like he was going to be hurt and mad if there was nothing for him that day.

      2. Edianter*

        I mean, I definitely don’t disagree with you, but as someone who hates socializing with coworkers outside of work, I’d almost always pay $25 to get *out* of an appreciation lunch.

    2. ELWM73*

      There are 6 of us and I have no problem being that person. Come to think of it, I’m the only one of the 6 who has any idea what a boundary is…

    3. WellRed*

      Your boss is not doing his part. He should be ashamed of himself for accepting such a generous gift instead of shutting it down.

  9. Sal*

    How would you recommend heading it off beforehand? If you are a new manager, and don’t know if your employees are planning something, what should you do?

    If someone does give a gift, obviously as you said be gracious, but how do you course correct for the future? Say something privately to them (now? next year?)? Say something to the group before next year?

    1. TootsNYC*

      I announced it to the group shortly before the next event.
      “Bosses Day is coming up, and I don’t know what you’ve done here before, but I just wanted to say, I don’t celebrate it, and I don’t want you to either. I firmly believe that gifts should only ever flow downward, so birthdays, Christmas, etc., are not occasions you should give me gifts. The biggest gift you could give me, you give me every day when you make me look good by doing your job well.
      “I get to say thank you with a gift. But it could be really awkward for people if any of you are giving me a present.”

  10. bubba g*

    UGH! An administrative assistant that moved to our site from another has gone all in on “Bosses Day.” First, she collected money, etc. for the boss’s birthday two weeks ago, now this. The “boss” is not my boss (I am the only person at this site that does not report to him), so I’m not contributing to the gift card she wants to get him (nor did I do the birthday thing, because we don’t celebrate birthdays here!). The admin pushing this makes probably 4 times less than the “boss,” and I’m pretty sure the boss doesn’t want a gift card for “Bosses Day.”
    I don’t know how much I can push back, since he’s not my boss, giving me plausible deniability, but getting several emails about this is ridiculous. I’ve encouraged a few others to push back, but I know they won’t, and I don’t know what my role here is, as the boss/supervisor is not my boss/supervisor. I was hoping the fact that no one really ponied up after the first email would lead the admin to figure out that it isn’t done here, but she just sent additional emails.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      Maybe somebody should anonymously forward the emails to the boss, if you’re sure they wouldn’t want the gift card.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I wonder if you could go to that boss and say, “I thought I’d alert you–the admin is really pressuring people to contribute to a gift card as a present for you. We’ve never done that here, and it seems to me that people are uncomfortable with saying no to her, but they also don’t seem comfortable with the fundraising for it either. I thought you might want to know.”

      Or email her back, no reply-all, and say, “If you’re not getting responses, it’s because this is not something our location does. From what I know of Your Boss, I don’t think he’d be comfortable with this.”

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I would setup a rule (assuming you use Outlook) that forwards any emails from Admin about this particular subject to my deleted folder. Don’t let someone bully you into contributing money if you don’t want to give. And you’re also not obligated to provide a reason of why you aren’t contributing.

      1. bubba g*

        Thanks for the suggestion, and I’ll try to set that up in my email.
        I don’t feel bullied at all. As someone pushing 60, I long ago learned to stand up for myself at work and to push back when necessary. It just seemed like it wasn’t MY issue to push back on, since he’s not my boss. I’m looped in on all staff emails, kind of as a courtesy so I know what’s happening here. I also won’t anonymously do anything, such as forward the emails, as I believe in being fairly direct, but kind with people.
        I just hope there’s not some other ridiculous made-up holiday coming soon. We do not give gifts for Christmas, so I’m wondering if she’ll try to do a gift for the boss.

        1. UKCoffeeLover*

          Seems to me the suggestions above to push back are good and you’ve in the ideal situation to ensure this ‘holiday’ does not become a thing in your office. You’d be doing everyone a favour!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


      I love a theme and I’ll decorate for just about anything but there are limits.

      Unless your “holiday” has cute decorations attached, you’re of no use at all to me. I’m now imagining decorating with paper dolls in expensive looking suits and cigars, just to throwback to some of the oil baron days.

      1. TootsNYC*

        print out banners with the boss from Dilbert, or from Blondie/Dagwood. Or the Simpsons. Or the Boss Baby movie.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I thought about Boss Baby first thing and then realized how awful it would be given the pain of being a ‘young’ manager.

  11. !*

    I thought Bosses Day had already passed! Now I’ll have to deal with one group giving their boss flowers and stuff, and my boss getting nothing (there are 5 who report to her, and I’m the only woman). The only time she’s ever gotten anything was when another woman worked for her (they were friends though), and she collected money from us to get her something. Ever since she left, we’ve not done anything because it’s such BS, and it would be such a forced gesture.

    1. OfficeGrl2019*

      100% can relate to being the only female on the team and being responsible for organizing gifts and things. Sometimes it is great being the only female, but sometimes it sucks.

  12. Volunteer Enforcer*

    Well said! For what it’s worth, this isn’t a thing in the UK, only seems to be the USA.

    1. Spargle*

      It’s a greeting card holiday – created by card companies to sell product, that’s all. Be glad.

    2. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Ditto Assistant’s Day, or pretty much any “let’s celebrate an abitrary employee level Day”.
      Definitely not a UK thing.

  13. Rebecca*

    Finally, absolutely NO mention of it this year at my workplace! And it’s not on my calendar. And, since my wallet is basically empty (haven’t been to an ATM) if someone does dream something up, I’m going to decline participation and use “no” as my answer.

  14. Sometimes Always Never*

    I had one boss who asked me what I had gotten him/was doing for him for boss’s day, and I told him, ” Every day is boss’s day! Name a day where you don’t get what you want done!” That ended that. In his defense, he did see others in our office who had gifted their bosses . . .

  15. Anonymous Boss*

    The fact that this ridiculous “holiday” falls at a time when a lot of organizations that run on the US government fiscal year calendar are doing annual evaluations makes this even squickier than it already was; I would feel deeply troubled if I started receiving gifts from direct reports. Thankfully, I had never heard of Boss’s Day until I read Alison’s older articles about it, and I hope to never work in an organization where it is a thing.

  16. yllis*

    We got a petty boss who loves this crap.

    “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.” – everyone knows it would be a lie. She loves butt kissing.

    Our team does a token thing. I tried to do the “gifts upward, etc” thing last year and was overruled because we know she’d be a ….you know.

    So we do it but do it cheap. Reminds me of Office Space where the employees are singing “Happy Birthday” to Lumbergh all monotone and boring

  17. Cat Person*

    My boss’s admin JUST stopped by to ask me to buy a card and to say that we will get him pastries or something. I told her that no, I don’t participate in Boss’s Day because it’s a fake holiday that card companies created to sell stuff. I like my boss, but in the past I have been pressured to go in on boss’s day for a boss that I LOATHED. I can’t tell you how demeaned I felt for having to stand in his office with others, smilingly thanking him for everything he did for us. That guy was a SNAKE, too.

  18. Sleepless*

    There was an admin at my old job who was deeply, deeply loyal to the boss. Seriously, she was like a person from another century who would be ready to sacrifice themselves to their lord. She eagerly tried to take up a collection for Boss’s Day every year, and every year she was politely shut down by her peers for all of the reasons Allison listed.

  19. Jamie*

    I have never worked at a place where anyone acknowledged Bosses Day, but I’ll always applaud Alison for being the voice of reason decrying this stupid made up thing.

  20. Audrey*

    I just started at a new company with only 10 employees, and was told that it’s a tradition for the employees to pool their money for the CEO’s birthday gift each year and get him an expensive bottle of alcohol. Apparently, this is a tradition that everyone participates in, and the CEO not-so-subtly has said that he expects and actually DOES want to receive a gift from his employees. I feel awkward about it, but I don’t want to be the one person on this small team who pushes back, especially when I’m so new. Thoughts? I feel like it’s not the hill I want to die on.

  21. Kramerica Industries*

    Last year, New Coworker thought it would be swell for us all to chip in to get Boss a $100 gift card for a spa. I pushed back. At Christmas, New Coworker pushed us again to chip in for a $100 gift card to the mall. Yet again, I pushed back and caused “drama”. Boss gave us all a notebook for Christmas. I don’t think anyone would’ve felt slighted if they hadn’t chipped in for two $100 boss gifts.

    10/10 would push back on giving inappropriate boss gifts again.

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      Boss’s Day and getting gifts for the boss over Christmas was definitely a thing at my last job. The first two years I kicked in because I honestly didn’t know any better and kicking in $5 was an amount I could easily afford. The straw that broke the camels back was when my team and I admittedly went a little overboard and got the boss a fancy margarita set for Christmas (probably about $25 per person). Boss’s gift to us were $5 gift cards which, if given on their own is fine but felt pretty cheap after what we had given boss. I never gave another cent to Boss’s Day/Christmas gifts for boss again and will never contribute towards it.

      1. Quill*

        Bosses get cookies saved out of the cookie exchange *if* they deserve them. I’ve been temp/contract during a lot of holiday seasons.

        … I’m just glad my boss at lab from hell didn’t know this was a thing.

  22. OfficeGrl2019*

    I like Boss’s Day…for my situation. I have two bosses who I admire and respect. One has taken a mentoring role with my career and I appreciate that relationship. I bought two cards and wrote a brief message and that’s the extent of Boss’s Day. I do like the holiday for my “situation” however I completely understand why people don’t like this holiday. Expecting employees to put on a catered breakfast and provide gifts and cards for Boss’s Day is inappropriate.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      As someone who has had great bosses just about every time and many who have acted as mentors.

      Tell them that they’re great without feeding into a commercial holiday that prods you to give Hallmark money.

      I live my life and my career carrying on the legacy of the boss who helped launch me into the professional I am today. He’s passed away now but when he was here, I showed my appreciation by treating his business like it was my own, fighting for his money and keeping his other employees taken good care of. Along with lots of warm fuzzy conversations when he was healthy enough for them. Again, no need for a holiday to show my respect.

    2. Mediamaven*

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with a lovely card if that’s the way you feel. It’s ok to show appreciation for a kind boss.

  23. EBennet*

    In theory I am among the many who oppose this holiday and blame the greeting card industry.
    In reality – I enjoy celebrating it! I’m a teacher and we have the most amazing department chair so we voluntarily celebrate Boss’s Day because we love any excuse to tell him how much we appreciate him. We don’t do a gift but take turns bringing in treats. Appropriately, the greatest curmudgeon in the department organizes a card. She realizes that she is a pain and wants to thank him for putting up with her.

    1. Rugby*

      Do you think that maybe you are setting a precedent for other departments that don’t want to celebrate this day or even for future employees of your department? There are plenty of amazing bosses and plenty of ways to show a appreciation for them without celebrating this stupid holiday.

      1. A*

        This is a good point. Might be worth doing the celebration at a different time, so it isn’t linked to this “holiday”?

  24. Andrea*

    I read this after somewhat grudgingly handing over $5 to order our boss cookies and brownies. I don’t appreciate this day and feel resentful! But I felt like I couldn’t say no.

  25. Phony Genius*

    According to the internet, which is always accurate [sarcasm], it was thought up in 1958 by an employee at a particular nationally-known insurance company whose employees are often seen wearing red polo shirts (like good neighbors). It was made more prominent by the then-governor of Illinois. Should we hold this against that company and/or that state? My vote is no on the state, but undecided on the company.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I hold everything against insurance companies. Of course they’d come up with this nonsense.

    2. Thornus*

      It wasn’t just an employee. It was an employee who wanted to use it to celebrate her dad’s birthday. She also worked for her dad at the time. She literally invented the celebration in order to get her coworkers to help her subsidize birthday gifts to her dad.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        As a resident of said state, I would hold that we are already being punished for pur mistakes enough.

  26. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    We’ve never celebrated this ever in my career of nearly 20 years now.

    I was confused for a split second when I saw a card the other day that was for Boss’s Day. Now this confirms that my eyes weren’t ef’ing with me.

    Burn it down.

  27. Aurora Leigh*

    Honestly, I wouldn’t mind Bosses Day so much if it were more reciprocal. Each year we chip in $10 to get the boss a gift card to her favorite hair salon (comes to $50 gift card). She loves it and goes on and on about it.

    Customer Service (our dept) appreciation gets celebrated maybe once out of every 4 years . . . usually it’s grandboss that funds the pizza party.

    Boss whines and complains about having to pitch in for anything. When Christmas rolls around, we pitch in to get a thoughtful gift, and she gets us generic $2-$5 gifts that show no thought about us as individuals at all.

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        Because of the one lady that has been here for 20+ years who organizes it every year (she does the cards and collections that go around for bereavements, and organized a baby shower too). She is a nice lady, but old fashioned in her opinion of how grateful we should be to the boss for the privilige of employment. I don’t want to hurt her feelings.

      2. Important Moi*

        Yeah, the dynamics of a place are a factor. It is not always to just stop doing something that has always been done. Nor is it easy to make something a smaller gesture when it has always been large (sincerity aside).

  28. jamberoo*

    Ugh. I used to work for minimum wage in a clothing store that never did reviews, raises, nor bonuses, and every Christmas season we employees were all expected to chip in for a luxury item gift for the woman who owned the store. She was a cruel, Babadook of a person.

  29. !*

    My company is pretty good at recognizing milestones, we get monetary gifts for specific anniversaries, for perfect attendance, and other recognizable accomplishments. These are given across the board to everyone who reaches those milestones and has nothing to do with favoritism or brown nosing unlike Bosses Day. The department I’m in has different teams, each with a manager, who reports to one director. One team is very close, especially the women on the team, they are always getting each other gifts and sharing clothing, etc. My team we can barely tolerate each other and our manager is not great, she is averse to confrontation when it’s warranted, and speaks to us like children when one of the team is not following procedure (instead of talking to them directly). It’s demoralizing and that’s not a behavior I will reward. I hope it just passes by quietly like it never (and should NOT) happen.

    1. Jamie*

      for perfect attendance

      Ugh – one of my ultimate pet peeves. Work, school, doesn’t matter this is a terrible practice that needs to be abolished everywhere.

      Perfect attendance awards reward people who either have kick ass immune systems (in which case nature already rewarded them) or those who refuse to stay home and keep their germs to themselves when they are sick. I think it sends a terrible message that encourages people to push through illness for kudos.

      I speak up about this every time it’s come up and I’ve never been able to stop it. Insidious stupidity.

      1. Peaches*

        Totally agree. I had a college professor who would bump students’ grades up TWO PERCENT at the end of the semester if they were there every day, and on time. On the first day of class, he “bragged” on a girl several semesters prior who came to class one day shivering, wrapped in a blanked, red-nosed and watery eyed with a box of tissues. He was “so proud” of her commitment to get her 2% bump, despite being very ill.

        This same teacher questioned my absence one day when I was missing to have ACL surgery (FWIW, I was an A student and has never missed class). I had been on crutches the whole week before surgery – guess that wasn’t convincing enough.

  30. AnonANon*

    So how do you deal with a boss that brings this up almost monthly or more? None of us want to participate for the reasons all mentioned, but the boss is practically begging for gifts?!

    1. Thornus*

      Gift an etiquette book with bookmarks tabbed on the chapters about gifts not flowing upwards and how gauche it is to beg for presents.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        This. I have no kids, but whining from anyone grates on my nerves LOL. Don’t reward your boss for bad behavior.

    2. WellRed*

      Feel sorry for how pathetic her life must be that she needs tangible gratification from her employees? Also, post a copy of this article above the coffee pot.

    3. TootsNYC*

      buy them something token.
      pitch in $1 each and get a jumbo bag of their favorite candy, or a bag of coffee, or something. From everybody.

  31. MOAS*

    I agree with each and every bit of this.

    Still……last year I got my boss a card and had our team of 6-8 ppl sign it. No money collected, just a card with a few warm friendly notes in it. I still love him but I don’t plan to do that this year.

    1. TechWorker*

      I do think a card is completely different – it certainly shouldn’t be obligatory but if you *do* have reasons to appreciate your boss a card with nice sentiments in is very different to a present!

      1. MOAS*

        yeah, I felt like that was way more valuable, good words from reports. I may get him a coffee from time to time, but that’s not something I’d expect anyone else to do. AFAIK no one else in my office celebrates it.

  32. Kheldarson*

    My office uses it as an excuse to do a potluck. We’re doing soup and grilled cheese sandwiches tomorrow. Our bosses are getting cards otherwise. But we use Hallmark days as party excuses so maybe that changes things?

      1. TootsNYC*

        when there’s a potluck and I’m the boss, I bring more than anybody else. Or I bring the big-ticket item (usually meat).

  33. Kat*

    I hate bosses day and all workplace recognition holidays. Luckily my current workplace usually only does a card which everyone signs. (And our admin who keeps track of this type of thing is on vacation this week so I bet we won’t do it this year.) I don’t mind signing a card (we have a very good boss and our whole team is a pleasure to work with) but the awkward part is I am the only one on our team that doesn’t report directly to her so I wondered if I should have done a card for my direct supervisor. The worst in the world though was when I was a brand new manager myself (a terribly struggling manager – I quit after 6 months and never went back to managing) and my 2 direct (amazing, smart, kind, deserved better than me) reports got me a gift for boss’ day. Not only is Boss’s Day the worst, but I was SUCH a bad boss that I deserved nothing!

  34. TXAdmin*

    At my old job I used to give my boss a Christmas gift every year- but we were close and the gift was always personal and inexpensive. I believe the most I ever spent was $35. He always thanked me and used whatever I gave him in his office (I gifted work-related things on purpose) but also always reiterated that I never had to get him something. That said, he always gifted me something much more expensive (~$100 range) for my birthday, Christmas and administrative professional’s day.
    When I got to my new job, the first Christmas I gave my boss a bag of specialty coffee beans and he never even acknowledged it. He is otherwise not a bad boss, but that was definitely the end of gifting up for me.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Some people really aren’t good at accepting gifts and choose to ignore them when possible, so that’s not too surprising. I would have stopped gifting to him but I wouldn’t have stopped gifting all together, one person shouldn’t spoil it for everyone else is my life long motto.

      I gift things to my bosses over the years but it’s always been personalized in some way. Which isn’t hard since I work for a bunch of drinkers, so it’s easy to just slide a handle of their favorite drink their way or in one case, inexpensive local wine was well appreciated. [I knew they drink, I would never give booze to anyone unless I know what their poison is!]

  35. Elenia*

    I sent this message to my staff last week.
    Subject: Boss’s Day
    “OMG it’s around the corner! Just my yearly reminder that I think Boss’s Day is silly and I want/expect NO gifts. You are already giving me a gift by working hard, completing all tasks to the best of your ability, and taking on extra projects and responsibilities whenever possible.

    However I am 100% not averse to anyone bringing in any sort of baked good to share with the whole team!”

    I do remind them every year. :)

  36. Pickaduck*

    I usually give my boss a token joke gift. But overall, it’s a vile holiday that should not exist. The last few years, I have given gifts to the managers that I manage as they are good bosses to their employees.

  37. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

    I worked for a micromanaging gas lighter who used “signs of a bad manager” articles as a how-to guide. He would pout and get seriously cranky if he didn’t get a gift on his birthday and Christmas. His employees were paid an average of $10-12/hr and the expected contribution was $15 each. If you didn’t contribute the office manager would bully you until you gave in. It was a small office so no way to get away from it. We ignored boss’ day at least.
    For the record, we usually got nothing as employees for the major holidays and sometimes a card and donuts for our birthdays.

    1. Jamie*

      I worked a temp job once where they, with a straight face, wanted me to contribute what was more than an hours pay for me for a holiday gift to a manager. No.

      I have contributed to things over the years, just today to an upcoming office lunch for Halloween…but because I wanted to. Special place in hell for people who feel entitled to their co-workers money.

  38. Joie De Vivre*

    I had a long time HR employee remind me that “Boss’s Day” is tomorrow. I told them that I learned that gifts should “flow down” not up.

    They seemed pretty invested in it though……

  39. MrsFisher*

    This is apparently a thing at my new office. But I don’t really mind TOO much because there’s no gifting, we’re just bringing in simple snacks to share, and it’s totally cool if you don’t/can’t contribute. (My coworkers will be unwitting guinea pigs for an apple cake recipe I’ve been eyeing). Also my boss is a truly lovely human and I really do appreciate it!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Does your boss bring treats too?! I think that if it’s just a general snacks/desserts potluck “acknowledge it’s a Day” thing, it’s not exhausting.

      The only reason it needs to be burnt and buried completely is because of the whole “This is why we can’t have nice things.” stuff. Your office is reasonable and fine! But others are out of frigging hand, it’s the beast that must be slayed.

  40. I'm A Little Teapot*

    There are 7 management people in my department:

    1 is oblivious to what’s going on, and also can’t make up his damn mind about what he wants
    1 we warn new people to put everything into writing because he WILL throw you under the bus to try to avoid getting blamed when things screw up, and considering he’s an idiot and incompetent, things screw up a lot
    1 I actually called HR to report verbal abuse from her to the rest of the team, AFTER I (and others) had reported it to dept level mgmt and it hadn’t improved.

    that’s 3 of the 7. 42%. You can take Bosses Day and shove it.

  41. A*

    I had no idea this was a thing when I first started working – I first found out about it from this blog! I’m glad that I did, because five years ago I found myself at a new employer that didn’t just support Boss’s Day.. they LOVED it. Each department would spend a week or so planning ‘surprises’ for the bosses, including parties, treats, gifts etc. It was absurd, especially because we were in an extremely low paying industry and most of my co-workers had a second job at night just to keep a roof over their heads. I pushed back with explaining that I firmly believe that gifts do not flow up in a professional setting, and they looked at me like I had three heads. It spiraled into me being ‘dramatic’ and ‘not a team player’. Unfortunately HR was a no go as the HR ‘head’ (not qualified) was the owners ex-gf from high school and the biggest drama stirrer at the company. Finally I pitched in $5 to make it go away. I started my job hunt not that soon after – the whole Boss’s Day experience told me a lot about the culture there.

  42. Blergh*

    I have never worked at a company where we celebrated Boss’s Day. I like my boss and have a great relationship with her, but I wasn’t even considering doing anything (because I have never done this in the past!). Lo and behold, I came into work yesterday to a group e-mail from the VPs of my company asking if we want to do anything for my boss (the President).

    I am my boss’s Executive Assistant and I definitely felt like they were waiting for me to chime in and offer some direction. I replied that I am happy to get a card for all of us to sign. I’m a card person anyway and a card isn’t a huge deal. Unfortunately, our VP of Human Resources suggested we chip in and get my boss a $100 gift card to her favorite store. :| She even calculated what we would all owe and provided that breakdown in her e-mail.

    Ugh. It’s really not a lot and I won’t be spending more than $15 on this gift. However, I’m a little resentful that we are chipping in to get a gift for my boss who makes six figures. All the VPs make significantly more money than I do, too. Our VP of HR has already offered to take the reigns so I won’t need to do anything except give my $15, but I really have reservations about this.

    I worry if I chime in and say I think this practice is backwards and I don’t want to contribute, our VPs are going to take it personally and think I have something against my boss – which is so far from the truth! I really like her a lot. I actually feel terrible for her right now because she has been dealing with a crapton of drama from our Board of Directors and is going through a rough time. I do think she will appreciate this gesture from her direct reports, which is another reason why I am remaining quiet. I’m just glad this stupid “holiday” only happens once a year.

    1. Important Moi*

      You can show appreciation on a day that isn’t National Boss’s Day. Do you have a sense of the dynamics of your work environment? What would your boss appreciate that doesn’t dent the wallets of your co-workers?

    2. TimeTravelR*

      Poke your head in their office or send an email to acknowledge it’s boss’s day and you want them to know how much you appreciate them. I do tell my boss periodically, and might again tomorrow. But no gifts!

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      Thank them then and there when they do something great. “Thanks, boss, for doing x.”

      (Of course, part of my mind goes the Sheldon route and says to start conditioning them by giving them chocolate.)

    4. Urdnot Bakara*

      do you have a regular check-in with them? let them know then! just say, “i wanted to let you know that i really appreciate _____” or whatever you’re thanking them for. if you want to give them something, i think the consensus here is that cards are fine since they’re relatively inexpensive, but it’s best to not do it on boss’s day or near your annual review date or some time when it would look like you were trying to suck up to them or otherwise felt obligated to get them something.

    5. Washi*

      Why are they amazing?

      Whatever your answer is, tell them that, as specifically as possible. I like writing notes because I’m someone who keeps positive feedback to look over when I’m down, but verbally in a check in would also be fine!

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Seriously, just say it to them! Bosses are typically always there to field issues and keep things running, they’re knee deep in gunk and it’s a thankless job in the end. So a “Thank you for being you!” kind of card, on a day that’s not for this commercial ick-nast holiday is key.

      I say this on Valentine Day every year when people ask me what I got, “We don’t celebrate our love for each other on one day. We do it year long.” Celebrate them year long, say thank-you when they do something that you think is awesome/amazing!

      Just like when we do BBQ’s or a pizza party, everyone says “thanks” to the people who planned it, got the food together and the boss who signed off on it being done since it’s his say if we can do it [since we’re not monsters, the company pays for these things but it still takes efforts of others to collect the groceries and cook them up.]

      That’s all it really takes. Being kind, courteous and respectful throughout the year is worth more than any expensive spa day you can sign them up for.

  43. funsneakers*

    My team loves our boss and my colleague thought of a really fun idea for boss’s day! Our boss wears really cool sneakers, so our team is all going to wear fun sneakers for the day. Otherwise, fully agree with the post.

  44. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    I’m celebrating Boss’s Day by buying all of my staff lunch tomorrow! Trickle Down Giftonomics!!

  45. Vi*

    We have the kiss-ups here who insist on making a big deal of b-days, boss’s day, Christmas. They make a gift selection and tell us what $$$ we’re supposed to contribute.
    They think it’s odd that someone would have an issue with the upward flow of gifting…
    Gifts have already been purchased plus taking ’em out to lunch…
    Boss, grandboss, great-grandboss etc..


    1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Didn’t see this comment before I posted below. I know what you mean about the kiss-ups that make it awkward for everyone, including the boss. Too bad they have nothing else to focus on. Maybe they should all work together rather than the rest of us having to deal with them! :)

  46. Urdnot Bakara*

    my current place of employment is actually really excellent when it comes to gift-giving and recognition. we don’t do boss’s day or admin’s day or anything like that, but we do have a quarterly (i think?) employee recognition event, which is basically an all-staff meeting with snacks where we recognize new employees, work anniversaries, and anyone can give shout-outs to other employees. i don’t think we do birthday cards bc there are just too many of us, but we do circulate cards for major things like a coworker’s wedding, a new baby, if a team member is leaving, stuff like that. also, the only person who regularly gives gifts (on my team, anyway) is the head of our department, who gives everyone very thoughtful gift bags at christmas and occasionally brings back small souvenirs for us when she goes on vacation.

    anyway, tl;dr i wish all my previous places of employment had done it like this!

  47. Master Bean Counter*

    I had to tell one of my employees there will be no such non-sense in this office. She asked where I would like to go out to lunch tomorrow. I said we are not doing that.

  48. The Grinch Who Stole Boss's Day*

    At an old workplace we were required to chip in to buy our division head (my boss’s boss) three Coach purses a year: on her birthday, for Christmas, and on Boss’s Day. She had catalogues she would pass around after circling what she wanted, or she would “accidentally” leave pages on the printer for weeks of whatever new bag she just had to have.

    I refused to participate and I encouraged my employees not to as well. I even shared around Alison’s old article on the subject. But MY boss pressured them, and he routinely cited my refusal to chip in as his one and only example of me “not being a team player” and therefore making me ineligable for a raises or bonus. It was also made clear at the holidays that gifts were ONLY to be given to her because giving gifts to your reports or peer gift exchanges were potentially offensive.

    This was part of a much, much larger toxic environment issue. But years later whenever I’m in a workplace that takes Boss’s Day seriously I consider it a serious red flag.

    1. Urdnot Bakara*

      what? WHAT?!

      this is beyond outrageous lmao. thank you for sharing and glad you got outta there!

    2. Quill*

      1) That’s bannanas
      2) I got turned down for a job at a coach outlet once because of my appearance. (Not sure if it was the short, the stocky, or the curly hair.)

    3. Jamie*

      This makes me ragey. That participation is being factored into decisions which affect your career…I’m glad it’s a former workplace and I hope the Coach whisperer gets her comeuppance.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Like a division head is lacking money to buy her own ef’ing purses.

      I buy a new purse every 2-3 years. I don’t subscribe to greed. She reminds me of my cousins at Christmas, who effectively ruined Christmas for me. As a child. A child who turned into a little baby sized Grinch because of the greed of others. *spits*

  49. SDSmith82*

    I’ve worked in a number of small and very dysfunctional office before finding the large and better functioning office I’m in now. My last office was 9 all female employees, and our ring leader would actually get offended if boss day wasn’t honored. Even though she knew she was underpaying every single one of us by $10-15k a year, and also sort of implied that we get her a gift worth around $200/year for boss’ day, Christmas and her birthday. She’d then pretend how we shouldn’t have- but knew we had to.
    I complied my first year, then she had me start doing my own departments accounting. I realized just how badly I was being underpaid compared to what I was bringing in (and knowing industry standards) that I pushed back and opted out. I began plotting my escape when the mean girls in the office got mad that I went against their traditions.

  50. Auntie Social*

    I worked at a hospital. The CEO took us all to his private club for lunch (no way we could pay for it, he just signed his name). He liked baked goods so we all brought in those but since they were left in the conference room they wound up being for everyone. Not sure if he loved brownies or he just didn’t want us to buy him a gift. He would thank us for making him look good and then tell us specific things he knew we’d done (I have NO idea how) over the past year. I got singled out for tackling the receptionist (sweet but. . .) who told a caller that if they wanted “ground round” to call the cafeteria. Took the phone away from her—the visiting doctor who was supposed to help present on Grand Rounds that day was lost, so I went and got him and helped him set up, etc. Even got his parking paid for. Got an attagirl for that.

  51. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

    One problem is that there’s always that one kiss-a** co-worker that tries to guilt the teeeeaaaam into chipping in for a gift for the boss. It makes it awkward for the other co-workers and the boss alike.

  52. nora*

    A few years ago I worked for a boss who probably should have retired long before I met them. There was one position that was something of a revolving door because it was incredibly thankless and difficult work. When Boss’s Day rolled around this particular year, the latest person to fill the role had been there a few months and was clearly not going to last but was trying mightily to hang on. She found out the boss’s favorite kind of cake and made one from scratch for the entire staff (7ish people). It was really delicious! Not only did the boss publicly decline to even try it, they also refused to take any home. It was mortifying for everyone but, apparently, the boss.

  53. justarandomrant*

    I just had to listen to my coworker order flowers for our boss tomorrow, of which I was pressured/bullied into contributing almost $10 to. For her birthday last month, she was given a huge gift basket easily worth $50-60, and I made cookies to go with that so I didn’t have to buy anything. It had other snacks, a gift card, a stuffed animal, and a balloon. It’s always my coworkers (specifically one) that organize things, and send passive-aggressive messages, then ask us to check our emails about what they just sent. Plus, these same coworkers also complain about issues with mixed messages from her about performance expectations.

    Boss has never refused the gifts, and while she does give us appreciation tokens (snacks, mugs, etc.) it’s of course never of equal value. Also, no amount of mini Snickers bars will make me feel as appreciated as a raise, which I haven’t gotten since I started over a year ago. Plus she’s not a great boss, so there’s that. UGH. Hopefully I can escape this place soon!

  54. Greg*

    Saw a sign at a major chain of US grocery stores yesterday reminding people to get something from the floral department for Boss’s Day and I audibly groaned and rolled my eyes. I agree with everything that Allison has written on the subject.

  55. AnonAndFrustrated*

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I hate that this “holiday” is printed on calendars, making the lower peons feel obligated to do something. Every day is Bosses Day when they make way more money than everyone else and can do whatever they want all the time anyway, right? Whoever came up with this bogus holiday should get a demotion.

  56. LeisureSuitLarry*

    I work in an office that would probably give Alison a heart attack. My direct boss and I regularly meet in the bar upstairs (in our office) with enough liquor to make a bartender happy where we proceed to get drunk and chat. Everyone is welcome to stay and chat – from the lowest paid hourly workers to the CEO, and they often do – so it’s not exclusionary. We chat about everything… families, politics, religion, etc. There is literally no subject that is off the table. We have had shouting matches over politics, and then he made sure I got home.
    Last week the subject of xmas came up. He HATES getting gifts from his employees. I’m fine with that. I’m not a huge fan of the holiday anyway. I’m not going to give the guy I work for a gift when I can’t even be bothered to get a gift for my niece and nephew. He told me that when he gets a gift from an employee – we do have a few who try too hard at holiday season – he just leaves it wrapped up on a table in his office, and he never opens it. He’ll have meetings with the giver present, and it’s just hovering there on the table watching the giver the whole time. He has told people “don’t give me gifts, that’s not the way it works”, so it’s not like he hasn’t been proactive about it
    He may break all the other manager rules, but he doesn’t break the gifts-flow-down-not-up rule.

  57. AnonAndOnAndOn*

    I’ll be the odd man out. I got all four of my execs S’well bottles as Boss’ Day gifts because I wanted to, I can afford it and I really, really like all of them.

    Plus, I’m helping drive the initiative to move toward filtered water and branded company water bottles, so they’re my test bed for the water bottles.

    To be fair, all the bosses reciprocate like crazy on Admin Day (another hated holiday around here) and for Christmas. But to be clear, there should never be an OBLIGATION to get your boss a gift for this day. Only if you want to, because you like them, period.

  58. WRITEON*

    I actually like celebrating it with my current boss. Mostly it’s me sending in (semi appropriate) bosses day memes and one year I made him a candy card. But I don’t expect anyone I supervise to do anything for me.

  59. CallCenterBabe*

    My team at work is starting a new tradition: charitable giving in honor of our supervisor. His birthday is this week, so we’ve all chipped in for a donation to Operation Smile. He was born with a full bilateral cleft, and he has been transparent with us about the challenges he has faced as a result. We want to recognize what an excellent leader he is and the difference he makes to all of us on our team.

    1. Cat Person*

      In my opinion, that’s a bad idea also. What if the favorite charity is Planned Parenthood? Or a religious organization? There are a lot of land mines with that approach. Plus, I have my own charities that I support and would rather give to them than something that I don’t have a personal connection to. Or maybe I don’t want to give to a charity because I can’t afford to?

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Wasn’t Operation Smile that horrible charity that makes job applicants buy, plan, and collectively cook a large meal for the employees? There was an infamous AAM letter about that.

  60. Blobola*

    We don’t do boss day in the UK, not something anyone here would have heard of thank goodness. Hope it stays that way.

    I tell my boss how much I appreciate her when the opportunity comes up but wouldn’t give a gift unless it was something free or £1. We’ve worked together for years and we work at a non-profit with low salaries so there isn’t a massive imbalance in knowledge/money/power but there are still boundaries which we respect

  61. Rewe*

    I completely agree about boss’s day (and similar day, appeciate each other all year around). How other gift giving occations? Let’s say the office has a tradition to buy something if a person gets married, has a baby, big birthday etc. Should there be a collection to boss like there would be to any other employee? Technically it is still gifting up, but it would be weird to ignore it.

  62. anonymoose*

    WOW. I’m pretty sure this is a coincidince, but my boss (who sucks) is having their baby shower today. And we’ve all already given money to a pricy item on the list. Ugh.

  63. Jessica Fletcher*

    I agree 100%! Unfortunately, I work in an office that’s very into it. Last year I contributed to a gift because I was brand new and didn’t want to rock the boat. This year, I bought a single card, and when my coworker asked what we were getting our boss, I said, “we got him this card.” I had to say it a few times, but they got the message. Progress!

    1. Jessica Fletcher*

      Update! A coworker brought a basket of donuts. Boss is allergic to gluten. No gluten free donuts. An accident, or an intentional misstep to get donuts for the rest of us? The world may never know.

  64. TRM*

    I have already been approached twice about a donation for Bosses’ day. I just started a few months ago and I don’t want to rock the boat with my new team. So I’m just politely declining to contribute to this last minute plan.

  65. Dessi*

    I remember this woman who called herself the “gift fairy” at one of my previous jobs. She’d send an email to our team explaining that next week was Bosses Day, manager X’s birthday, manager X’s last day is Y, etc. and she’s say how much she hopes to collect to get gifts for them. For my managers birthday she got a card, a $50 flower arrangement, and a $75 Nordstrom gift card. She was thrilled and had no issue accepting. Mind you, she made well over $100,000/yr. and our commissions were cut by 70% and long term disability and 401k match had been eliminated that year due to financial hardship. We were only making about $40k. The culture didn’t forgive those of us who really couldn’t swing this and the fact that managers didn’t suffer pay cuts like us yet willingly accepted lavish gifts from us made me sick

  66. UKCoffeeLover*

    Oh my goodness, I don’t think this is a thing yet in the UK and I really hope its not coming our way!
    Boss’ Day sounds awful!

  67. Happy Pineapple*

    If you do have to participate, I highly recommend something simple and free/almost free like a card or DIY. This year I went to a dollar store, got some glass containers and hard candy, and then attached a nice note. Cost me less than $2 per person and it’s a token of appreciation they can keep on their desk (and eat!).

  68. !*

    Yup, so the day was going along just fine, no mention of Bosses Day until a guy on my team sent us an email and his exact words were

    Hi, I understand that today is Boss Day.
    Please suggest if we might be doing something for (our manager’s name) today.

    He asked me as I was walking by and I said nope, it’s a fake holiday and kept walking.

    Of course he then went to two women on the *other* team to ask them and they went right out and are doing who knows what for who knows who.


    1. !*

      Oh, and the women just came back to tell us they bought our boss a plant from us…and to let her know. Um, no, I did not ask them to do that, and I am not going to contribute.

  69. AMPG*

    So I was in the middle of our senior staff meeting this morning (our CEO and his direct reports), when we’re interrupted by one of our front-line staff with a gift and balloon for our CEO. He of course was delighted and proceeded to rib all of his actual direct reports for “forgetting” for the rest of the meeting, and then went to thank her personally. The kicker is that *I* am actually her boss! She’s incredibly passive-aggressive and it was clear to everyone in the room (except our CEO, of course) that she timed her presentation as a swipe at me, but of course it was done in a way that would make me look petty if I attempted to address it at all. It’s been one of those weeks.

  70. Doc in a Box*

    I’d never heard of Bosses’ Day before I moved to a new university with a really strong hierarchy and my division’s staff assistant gets really into this sort of thing. (Also: baby showers, bridal showers, retirements, every holiday on the Hallmark calendar… I think she just likes putting purple glitter all over everything.) Luckily, Wednesdays are my admin day, so I just work from home or go in for specific meetings, and therefore avoid the awkward altogether.

  71. Roscoe*

    Ugh, I’m in this situation now. Its not exactly the same. But there was just a new “class” of employees at my job. My new boss has been great with training, taking us out for lunch/drinks, etc. I really like him. But apparently yesterday the other people decided to get him a gift (I was doing something else when this was discussed). IMO this is just a part of his job. While I appreciate him, I don’t think giving a gift is necessary. But everyone decided this and kind of brought me on after it was decided. Now I’d feel wierd NOT contributing when everyone else does and I’d also feel weird crapping on what they think is a nice gesture

  72. Qmatila*

    Sigh. my office can not let this holiday go. I already chipped in $XX and now they want to also take the boss out for a fancy lunch when she gets back from vacation. I of course sound like the horrible person when I said, well I may not go then. I’m sticking to my guns, but I’ll be interested in the push back

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