Defense Industry Office Advice: Giving a Supervisor a Holiday Gift

Q. What is the proper etiquette for buying a supervisor a gift for the holidays? I don’t want to seem cheap, but I am worried about perceptions if it is inappropriate to spend too much.

A. That really depends on the relationship you have with your supervisor and what the guidelines are for your particular company or organization.

If you work for a private company, you could buy something under $50.00 and likely won’t be violating any policies or restrictions. Be sure to check company regulations and also consider the kind of relationship you have with your supervisor, and if a gift would seem like an attempt to curry favor or would be well received.

If you are a contractor and your supervisor is a federal employee, you should try to find a thoughtful token under $20.00. There are strict rules about government employees accepting gifts from contractors, which are on specifically explained on the U.S. Office of Government Ethics website. For federal employees and contractors, gifts that are based on a personal friendship/relationship – meaning gifts from family members or friends with whom it is clear there was an existing friendship, are allowed. The restrictions are specifically for cases where the relationship/friendship developed between a federal employee and a contractor while on the job.

To play it safe, your best bet would be some baked goods or something you made yourself. A nice card, an inexpensive, book, a pen, or similarly modest gift is more than acceptable.

Diana M. Rodriguez is a native Washingtonian who currently works as a professional writer, blogger, social media expert, commentator, editor and public affairs practitioner. Diana previously worked as an editor and senior communications analyst for the Department of Defense.

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Diana M. Rodriguez is a native Washingtonian who works as a professional freelance writer, commentator, and blogger; as well as a public affairs, website content and social media manager for the Department of Defense.