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The Holiday Gift Guide for Your Co-Worker, Boss, and Client

When it comes to gifting there are people that are hard to find the right gift for and then there are people that are almost impossible to find the right gift for. Co-workers, bosses and clients fall into the latter category. Which often means they get the short end of the stick and end up with something generic and rather lackluster when it comes holiday time. And although a gift might not be necessary at all for all people that fall into these categories (which totally depends on your work place and your relationship to them) there are times when it can be appropriate and appreciated to show your gratitude through more than just a few words in a card. So for those moments we tried to think out of the box and pull together a list that all of us here at EHD would either love to gift or love to receive. I played ‘the boss’ in this scenario 🙂

1. Daily Planner:  This simple daily planner would be a simple gift for any co-worker who loves keeping everything in order (or maybe for the one that constantly shows up to meetings late).

2. Pencil Set: You know what a styling planner needs? An equally stylish pencil set. This one is real cute.

3. Leather Tray: Your co-worker’s desk is a great opportunity for some style. This leather pencil tray would bring a little bit of organization to what may be a cluttered mess. Can you tell I love stylish organization yet?

4. Lunch Box: This one is for the co-worker who is doing much better than most of us and ACTUALLY brings their lunch to work everyday. It’s so cute and with two stacking compartments it is very functional as well. Maybe if I get one I’ll be better at bringing my lunch to work? Put that on the 2018 new years resolutions.

5. Carafe Set: Water is essential for me (well for any human for that matter). I drink a gazillion glasses a day. Having this very cool water carafe and glass set would save me from a lot of water cooler time.

6. Pencil Notepad: Can you ever have enough notepads and pencils? I don’t think so. I love the style and function of this one.

7. Ceramic Vase: Having flowers around makes me happy and probably would make your coworker happy too. Only thing missing is some fresh flowers to go with it. That’s your job.

8. Black Deck of Cards: Everyone loves playing cards and this deck is very sleek. An easy and affordable gift that is sure to win no matter what their style may be.

9. Flask Bracelet: While I do not promote drinking at work…well most of time at least, this fun flask is weird and cool and could come in handy when the clock hits 5pm on Friday. JK. Use it on the weekends or you are fired.

10. City of Saints Coffee: Coffee is usually a safe bet for anyone and especially when it’s enclosed in some very well designed packaging. I haven’t tried this one myself but notes of cranberry, oak and old fashioned definitely has me interested. You know I love some pretentious foodie gifts.

11. Coffee Spoon: This may not be the most necessary item but it’s so pretty and makes the perfect gift duo with that bag of coffee:) I actually am buying this for Brian because we have an ugly coffee spoon and he loves all things coffee …

12. Mug: Spare your co-worker of the typical ‘Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee’ mug and instead give them this awesome handmade ceramic one.

13. Bath Salts: Stylish looking spa products are usually a win. A) because you can display them at home and B) after a long day of work what better than to pop open this pretty little bottle to destress and get your mind off the work day.

14. Hand Lotion: This hand lotion smell sooooo good, feels great and looks good too when it’s on display.

15. Facial Spray: Sometimes all you need is a little spritz in your to face to make you feel refreshed. This is a great gift that I don’t think many people get for them self until they try it.

16. Journal: A beautiful and classic looking journal is always a great gift. Those pencils would look very cute with it too. Perhaps they can write down appreciation and adoration for their boss?

17. ‘Commune’ Design Book: ‘Commune’ is one of my favorite design books of all time. It’s my go-to for any design lover. I actually gave it to Jess (from my office) last Christmas and she is obsessed – so it is a pretty safe bet for a coworker as well.

Emily Henderson Gift Guide For Your Boss1

1. Personalized Monogram Necklace and Stationery: I can’t imagine any boss that wouldn’t like a little bit of monogramming this holiday season. Especially when it is the form of some jewelry and a stationery set. This is SOOO pretty.

2. Pour Over and Coffee Set: For said boss that constantly asks you to fetch their coffee. Give them a kind little nudge that they can make their own brew every so often.

3. Alwin Mug: We love this mug. I mean those handles are so good. It’s a stylish option for that boss that keeps the coffee on tap. It also comes in a handful of other colors and styles if black isn’t their thing. All of us were like, ‘oh what a cool mug’ and thats saying a lot considering we are in the design field and see a LOT of cool mugs.

4. Personalized Brass Luggage Tag: If your boss is anything like me they travel A LOT. This is a very stylish and thoughtful gift, and again everyone loves a bit of personalization. HINT HINT I WANT THIS.

5. Mule for Two Kit: Instead of going the more classic holiday drink direction (aka the Old Fashioned) try this awesome Moscow Mule kit. Just add a bottle of vodka and you are set to impress. Cheers to that 🙂

6. Boss Necklace: I have this necklace and love it. Boss APPROVED! Its patina-ing really beautiful, too. Sadly, I bought it for myself. They are fired.

7. Mini Wooden Container: This guy does double duty as a beautiful sculptural object and a useful piece of storage. Gone are the days of your boss asking you for a paperclip. I WANT THIS.

8. Tom Dixon Brass Pen: Pretty pens are always a winning gift for bosses. Indeed.

9. Personalized Brass Collar Stays: Depending on how formal your workplace is, this could be just the right gift for that boss that always has a button up on.

10. Candle: A candle may seem like a generic gift but it’s not because 9 times out of 10 people don’t buy nice candles for themselves everyday which makes them great gifts for the holidays. As long as you steer clear of anything too cheesy smelling. When talking fragrance the other day, Brady and Sara without blinking said Le Labo was amazing and both of their favorites. So with that in mind plus a sleek custom label this candle will be sure to please and the scent is great for anyone. I’d never heard of it but Sara is also going to teach me the ways of perfume soon and we are going there. Stay tuned.

11. Wooden Matchbox: I love this handmade wooden matchbox. It’s not cheap but will last forever and is a special gift.

12. Vase: Depending on your boss and how close you are professionally with them, I love the idea of creating a little tray area for them. This vase would work perfectly on said tray area.

13. Tray: No one ever says no to more organization, and if your boss’s desk is a disaster then this might help them out a little bit in that department.

14. Dish: A pretty dish to throw paperclips/change/keys or anything else in while keeping things organized.

15. Ceramic Tumbler: Put this on the same tray, fill it with a plant, some pencils, some m&m’s whatever is your bosses favorite.

Emily Henderson Gift Guide For Your Clients

This may be the trickiest and really depends on what ‘client’ means to you and how many you have. We have a few diffrent tiers – our big sponsors, our design clients, and our smaller-sponsors (more one-offs). But then there are a lot of PR people, ad agencies, producers, etc. So we typically send out #3 to all of them, then splurge on our big ones (#1 or #7). But all these things feel special, thought-out and curated. Listen its a write-off and its good marketing. The trick is making sure that its worth the dough, and we think the above are. If I had more time I would have custom-made something with some EHD branding 🙂

1. Vermont Wood Candles Gift Box: Food 52 doesn’t mess around with a gift box. This very beautiful candle gift set is one you would need to get shipped to your home or office and then send out to your clients and/or contributors as they don’t offer multiple address shipping. While not cheap at $90, this box is sure to make anyone feel very appreciated and home smell very good 🙂

2. The Sill: I love and need plants around me. Treat your clients to some easy care greenery to enhance their space. This company has a ton of options for planted pots starting at $20!

3. Maggie Louise Confections: How pretty are these chocolates? I have personally used them to send gifts to clients and sponsors. You can purchase their pre-made boxes or work with one of their associates to customize your own. They also offer multiple address shipping so you don’t have to deal with any of that hassle. A big ol’ plus in my book. EHD personally endorses this.

4. Lizush Bath Bomb Box: A great and more affordable option, plus who doesn’t love a luxurious bath? These bath bombs are all natural, a non GMO product and get their colors from plant roots. An added plus is they make shipping to the recipient an option on the main page. Done and done.

5. Greetabl: This is such a cute gift box and a great affordable option starting at $13/box. First you pick the type of person you are gifting it to (aka professional for our purposes) and the occasion. Then pick a box design, confetti if you like and a very cute curated gift. Lastly you can personalize the inside of the box with pictures or a note to the recipient. Don’t worry the website is insanely user friendly. (Stay away from confetti if you are on the fence. Maybe I get a lot of confetti boxes but my kids just make such a mess).

6. Bouqs: We like The Bouqs fans over here at EHD. They are always beautiful and fresh and like I said before I love plants. Bouqs is awesome because they work with farmers all over the world. All the flowers are cut the day you order and shipped from one of their farm partners so they last (hence the freshness). And all of their farms practice sustainable, eco-friendly farming, and they cut only what we sell. They also offer corporate gifting.

7. Valleybrink Road: This gorgeous gift box is a very pretty and well designed. They are a bit pricier than some of the other options but depending on your line of work, your clients might deserve something really special this holiday? They also offer beautiful floral arrangements.

8. Gratitude Collaborative: While another great gift box option, this company gives back to help provide meals for those in need. It makes the higher price point a bit easier to digest knowing a lot of good is coming from it. They also work with local artisans to really create a special curated gift for your clients. You even have to option to work with them to create custom box. Win, win, win!

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5 years ago

Nice article. Think so new form of features have included in your article. Waiting for your next article. keep posting

5 years ago

These are all really nice items, but I feel like your boss section should say, “don’t buy a gift for your boss!” I dunno if it’s different for small businesses, but in my experience gifts should only flow down the chain, not up. A card or shared treat for the office are a better way to go if you want to celebrate with the boss.

5 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

I don’t know if it’s different for the design industry and/or small businesses. At my current job, we are actually forbidden from gifting anything “up the chain” that costs more than $10. Plus, I have actually not seen gifting up the chain done in my office except for my first year, when I did it, before I knew any better (I did get made fun of by other coworkers, even though they got the same gift from me that year too).

5 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

That’s right! No boss presents! And bosses should get out in front of this if they even think it’s coming and institute a no-gift policy to bosses! “I’m so happy to work with you, but all I accept at the holidays are your good wishes! If you want to shop, please shop for your family and loved ones!”

5 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

YES! Check out ask a manager for SUCH a good argument for no gifting up.

5 years ago
Reply to  Kristin

I wish I would have known this years ago! Is this the norm? I always find it so awkward buying gifts for my boss that some years I just skip it and that seems weird too.

5 years ago

Regarding the lunchbox & the New Year’s resolution to pack your own lunch: yes, do it!! I resolved several years ago to pack my lunch at least 2 days a week. I wanted it to be a reasonable goal that I could actually stick to, but I almost always pack 4 or 5 days a week. It’s the only resolution I’ve ever been able to keep into the next year (sadly). Yes, you will save money and eat healthier, but you will also avoid SO MUCH PLASTIC and other packaging. This is an important, yet easy, change you can make by merely adjusting your habits.

5 years ago

You’re NEVER supposed to gift up! You don’t buy gifts for your boss!

5 years ago

Lizush!!! Thank you for introducing me to this AMAZING company, currently shopping for all the girls in my life (including my co-workers!!!!).

5 years ago

A lot of these are great ideas, and I think your office environment determines if and how much you “gift up”. It can be seen as buying your position, but if your boss always gifts you something sweet and personalized, it does seem appropriate to return the favor.

Just one heads up from a CPA – gifts to clients, employees, etc. are only deductible up to $25 per recipient per year. If you can make a strong argument that it is advertising, not a gift (needs to be heavily branded, perhaps a product you sell rather than something you went out and bought), then you can probably classify it as advertising and deduct 100%, just keep GOOD records of what it is.

Or, in the giving spirit, just accept that gifts may not be fully deductible and keep track of it for your CPA so they can calculate the correct amount to deduct.

If you’re concerned about this, perhaps make a donation to a charity that your client or employee holds near and dear in their name? Charitable contributions are deductible without the $25 limit!

5 years ago
Reply to  Jessie

Thanks for all the insight and totally agree that your office environment (how casual it is, how closely you work with your coworkers/colleagues, etc) will dictate how appropriate it might be to get something for them. Although it may not be appropriate in larger office spaces or more corporate environments we wanted to pull this together for those of you that might need a little inspiration if you do work in such an environment where it may be fitting. And if not then almost all of these gifts can work for just about anyone else. xx

5 years ago

I love your blog and this is a great list of items to gift; however, I would argue that gifts should flow down, not up–i.e. from boss to employee, but not vice versa because of the power dynamics and income disparities involved. Ask A Manager’s blog explains this really well if you would like to take a look:

5 years ago
Reply to  Lauren

Oops, missed the previous comments–nice to see other AAM fans!

5 years ago

So many good ideas here! I particularly love those personalized collar stays, but the ad copy for it is kinda hilariously bad:

“In every situation your love will be the thing keeping him clean and presentable. You’re already the force behind his success, why not propel him more with these custom stays?”
“The Custom Collar Stays are the perfect way to draw the two of you closer together. Whenever he slips these stays in and out of his favorite shirts, he will be reminded of the number one person in his life: the reason he puts in the long hours, the one he sacrifices for, and the one he loves unconditionally and without hesitation. ”

I mean, was it written by an ardent teenager living in the 1950s?

5 years ago
Reply to  Katie

Bahahahahahaha! This is hilarious. Good find.

5 years ago

These are all really nice items!

5 years ago

Great list ~ Le labo is seriously THE best! Santal 33 is divine. I bought the laundry detergent on Amazon …Le Labo “Santal 33” Signature Detergent 16 oz by The Laundress…’s basically liquid gold @$50 for a shampoo sized bottle, but it makes me so so happy to wash my clothes & towels. It’s definitely a luxury, but I wasn’t ready to drop the $300 on the perfume and this makes you smell really, really nice and not in an overly “perfumey” kind of way. Trust me try it!!! Wash your towels and step out of your shower and breathe in the delicious aroma.

5 years ago

Man, folks are freaking out about boss gifts! i don’t see the big deal about getting your boss something nice! It doesn’t have to be something expensive! A thoughtful card wishing a merry Holliday season and something funny or useful in the work place is always a nice touch….unless you are “forbidden” but ignoring the boss is a rookie mistake. A card is a MINIMUM folks! The boss would like to be wished well too.

5 years ago

Can you do for your difficult but lovely, “mother in law?” pretty please?

5 years ago

Yes! THANK YOU for this! Such a clever and thoughtful list. I will definitely be picking up a few of these items this season.