Should you give your boss a gift? (If you answer yes, we have a few ideas.)

It's a weird year in many offices, a sad year in many offices. So we are all looking for a few moments of merriment and reasons to celebrate. Sharing gifts with coworkers is one way to end the year on a good note. But is your boss on your gift-giving list this year?

The answer for most of us is probably no. But there are times, maybe in small offices, or in certain circumstances, when giving a gift to your boss is okay. Just don't assume you should buy the boss a gift, even if you receive a gift from her.

This Yahoo! HotJobs article
says we should approach gift-giving in the office as any other work project. Don't do it willy-nilly. Know the protocol of how gifts have been exchanged and between whom in past years.

Once you have the full picture, if you still want to get your boss a gift, think about why. If it's to curry favor, don't do it, says Jo Bennett, partner in the New York City executive search firm Battalia Winston. If it's because your boss gets presents for you and other direct reports, that doesn't necessarily mean you should reciprocate. To play it safe, you may want to stick with homemade presents -- cookies, jams, wine -- that you are giving to other coworkers. The last thing you want to do is make your boss feel uncomfortable. It's been a tough year as it is. We don't need to add to the tension or any bad feelings.

That said, every office is different. And if yours is a small office, and your boss is part of a gift exchange, we've got a few ideas for you to keep it fun, nice and maybe a touch personal but not too personal. A too-personal gift is never a good idea when it comes to bosses. Dallas-based business etiquette expert Colleen Rickenbacher, author of "Be on Your Best Business Behavior," told HotJobs the bottom line is always, 'Don't give something that touches the body.'" No clothes, perfume, or even flowers.

So, if you draw your manager's name in an office gift grab bag, or you feel compelled to get her something as a thank you for a specific act of kindness or something she did during the year to help you out of a jam, here are a few ideas. Please, please add your own gift picks below if you've ever ended up trading gifts with your manager.

Keep it light.
If life at work has been a little too stressful lately -- and where hasn't it been? -- a simple Koosh Ball is always a good call, a light something to take the edge off an edgy time. ($3.75, Office Playground)






Is your boss a tinkerer, a creative sort? This Executive Tinkertoy Set is kind of fun for someone who likes to put things together and take them apart as they strategize your future. Plus, if by chance your boss played with Tinkertoys as a tyke, you've hit a nice nostalgic chord. ($20, The Obssession Box Company)







Keep it thoughtful.
True, you don't want to get too personal, but you can be thoughtful without overstepping a boundary. A gift that touches on something you know your boss has an interest in can be a big hit. Just don't cross the creepy line. Say, for example, your boss is an avid reader. Instead of buying a book or a gift card to a book store, this book journaling and organizing set is a nice gift. It's called "A Life Well Read -- My Personal Journey Through Books" and it's a beautifully packaged way to keep track of favorite books and passages. It comes with 56 lovely bookplates to keep track of your books, and gift labels to include in books you give as gifts. ($30 --$20 through Dec.15, A Life Unplugged)



Keep it simple. You may want to stick with homemade gifts, especially if you are handing them out to other coworkers. Signature cookies or a special family baking recipe whipped up in your kitchen and nicely packaged is a lowkey, thoughtful way to go. Or, you can always go for the you-bake-it approach by layering ingredients for Christmas cookies in a mason jar, set off with a festive ribbon. Here's Nestle's Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix In A Jar.

Will you be exchanging gifts with your boss? If so, let us know what you are giving. We won't tell.

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Under-$20 gift ideas for coworkers