Today's ProfessionElle

A modern guide for ambitious, chic professionals

How to Impress your Boss with your Holiday Gift 

FYI, none of the below suggestions are sponsored – in fact, nothing on this site is sponsored. These are all just suggestions that I know and love. Let me know in the comments below if any of them worked for you!

I’ve recently learned the importance of giving a stellar gift to your colleagues. There are occasions when a gift is the perfect (and expected) way to express your appreciation. Whether it’s your mentor, your boss, or your assistant, people who go above and beyond their job description to help you out at work deserve a little recognition.

Nothing says ‘this was a last minute gift’ like a gift card, so let’s scrap that idea. Most people who want to seem thoughtful opt for a bottle of wine. This is a fine for someone you work with casually, but it isn’t exactly personalized. If you’re buying a gift for someone you work with closely, you can do better.

My recommendation? I love giving great books that people will keep on their shelf forever.


So here are my tips for always gifting the perfect book! You can use the same tips for your friends and family (bonus – you won’t have to worry about coming across as ‘professional’ in your selection).

1. Know your Audience 

This is the key to success when it comes to gifting a book. Do not give someone a book just because you liked it.

One of my closest friends and I could not be more different when it comes to our tastes in literature. I get excited when I hold a new shiny 500 page drama in my hands…and she visibly cringes. 

Pro-tip: choose a travel book that provides fuel for a ‘take me backkkk’ Instagram post and shoutout from your officemate.

The point of a gift is the personalization. Choose something you know they’ll enjoy. Is your boss a self-help nut? If so, something like The Gratitude Diaries would be a trendy but interesting choice. Is your office bestie planning to move in with her boyfriend anytime soon? The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up might be the perfect complement to her upcoming life change.

In a professional setting, you probably won’t go wrong with a book that’s generating a lot of buzz around the office (anything by Michael Lewis [The Undoing Project is a good one for your boss because it’s about rethinking organizational structures] or Malcolm Gladwell [The Tipping Point, or What the Dog Saw if they prefer short articles] or an inspiring biography (Michelle Obama’s Becoming for anyone with an interest in politics or law, or Phil Knight’s acclaimed Shoe Dog for the aspiring entrepreneur). Skip the classics like How to Win Friends and Influence People – chances are your boss has already read it.

If your giftee is not an avid reader, choose a coffee table book. Almost anyone can appreciate travel, wildlife, fashion, culinary, or architectural photography.

2. Read the Reviews before you Make your Choice

Obvious, right? You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this.

Do you have a book review site that you use to research before you buy? You should. If you don’t, I guarantee that you will end up buying something that’s supposedly on the Bestseller list but is actually a complete dud (hello, The Goldfinch).

Even if you have a book in mind, read the reviews. I personally check out the Goodreads reviews before I buy any book. You might stick with your original pick, but you also might get ideas for an even better read.

3. Leave a Dedication Inside

Always, always, always write a dedication. It’s classy and keeps the gift personal (…and it also prevents a book from being re-gifted). Briefly explain why you chose that book for your giftee and what it all means to you.

I usually write my note on the inside of the back cover. There’s enough space for some writing, but it doesn’t interrupt the flow of those all-important first pages.

4. Stay Flexible

The key thing to remember is that you’re buying a gift that is meant to inspire a positive reaction in your recipient. If you know your boss hates sitting down to read, try gifting them an audio book through Audible to see if they can get into ‘reading’ by listening during their morning commute.

If all else fails, scrap the book idea. If your giftee truly hates reading, then stationary, notebooks, and other knick knacks can be just as personalized- as long as you choose a theme or colour scheme that the recipient will love.


Happy gifting!


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