The Impossible Bosses Gift
December 07, 2006

In a bizarre ritual, we have to buy the partners we work for, whose names adorn the front of the building, holiday gifts. I believe the tradition began when they were a baby firm. Three, four attorneys all working closely (probably too closely) together. At that time a sense of family and a sink-or-swim mentality prevailed. It was natural and easy. I also think gifts flowed in both directions. We are no longer there. On any level. Partners are partners. With Mercedes' and estates. We are bigger, much bigger, a dozen attorneys and 50 staff people. We are swimming, merrily along. But yet that last vestige remained.

I guess it would be rude to be the first group of associates to end the tradition. What message would that send? Questions would fly about our happiness level. But it is not that; this tradition is not tied to happiness. In Real Simple they did not have gift suggestions for your bosses. There are suggestions for your hairdresser, post man and yoga instructor. Even do's and don'ts. But not for your boss. Because simply put you should not be buying gifts for your bosses. Unless, they add, you are sucking up or you want to bribe them. The message was obvious, no one wants to be considered a suck up. Well here it is not really about that either. Since all associates chip in. But the idea behind what Real Simple had to say is still there. Don't buy gifts for your boss. "But! But!", I putter to myself...."what about the rest of us?" We are stuck in a tradition that is frowned upon by the manners' gurus.

Given these circumstances it makes gift purchasing, IMPOSSIBLE. Of course none of the websites list boss as a potential recipient. Since people are not supposed to buy things for their bosses. Duh. Go figure. Plus, what do you buy people who have more money than necessary and all the trappings of a successful life? On top of the fact that the typical office type gifts, business card holders, paper weights and such were used up years ago. Can we re-gift those ideas? Or do we need creative different ideas? Last year was gift baskets picked in an attempt to match personalities. That was a task. But again, these are our bosses, so it needs to be tasteful. We want the gifts to be meaningful, polite, sophisticated and appreciated. This seems very difficult for any boss. Lets add four and make that three men and a lady. One who does not drink. At all. Ever. IMPOSSIBLE.

What makes it worse. Absolutely the worst, in a I am whiny baby way, is that we get nothing. As associates in a law firm, we do not get a Christmas bonus nor do we get a small token of holiday cheer. Nothing. So our efforts to shop for the right gift and our money spent paying for it, make the gift that much more IMPOSSIBLE.


Blogger Ally said:

That's ridiculous. What a dumb tradition--that the partners could easily put a stop to or at least reciprocate and give you guys gifts.

Well on a positive note, you've helped me see something I should be grateful about. Now if I can only think of something to buy my secretary....

8:06 PM 

Blogger e.b. said:

It is pretty amazing...the boyfriend suggested we make a donation in their names. Which I think is a wonderful idea.

6:27 AM 

Blogger Accidentally Me said:

Give to "The Human Fund" like George Costanza did.

I think maybe you should make your lasting contribution to the firm by not doing it. As long as you keep billing enough hours, I have to feel like the partners will look the other way

7:58 AM 

Blogger e.b. said:

Ahhh the incredible edible billable hour - impeded these days by shopping on the internet looking for this impossible gift.
Damn it - charity it is.

8:15 AM 

Blogger Ally said:

Excellent idea! You have a very smart boyfriend. Picking a charity will be much easier than choosing "gifts." For the office lush, send money to AA. For the overweight partner, send money to Save the Whales, and so on. Just kidding, of course. No matter how many hours you bill, they wouldn't forgive you for that.

12:22 PM 

Blogger brookem said:

I'm in the same boat. Not partners- but supervisors and bosses and us all chipping in and actually trying to agree? Impossible. I like the donation idea!

1:24 PM 

Blogger Cute Jewess said:

Giving your bosses gifts when the bosses *don't give gifts* goes against every spirit of the holidays! Boo on them.

There are lots of bad traditions that were broken long ago. Like women not being able to own land. Or slavery. This gift tradition thing has got to go!

2:54 PM 

Blogger icadle said:

This is the most ridiculous tradition I've ever hear of. I don't even know what else to say.

7:50 AM 

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