October 16th is National Boss Day. Or Boss’ Day, or Boss’s Day. Nobody can really decide on how to stylize it. Apparently, nobody can decide on how to celebrate it, either.
It makes sense. Why should you buy a gift for your manager? Doesn’t it bring up some ethical concerns when that person is responsible for evaluating you and giving you a raise? That’s why Alison Green of Ask a Manager recommends getting rid of the holiday all together.
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How Boss’s Day Began
Boss’s Day was first celebrated in 1958, when a secretary at State Farm thought her boss, who happened to be her own father, was underappreciated at the office. Apparently, she thought that young workers didn’t realize how hard their bosses worked and wanted to show her appreciation.
So the origins of the holiday are definitely kind of icky. I guess every generation thinks those darned kids don’t work hard enough.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly had bosses that let their subordinates do all the work while they took all the credit. Let’s just say that I wouldn’t be talking about celebrating Boss’s Day if one of them was still my manager. And trust me, if you do have one of those bosses, don’t think that giving them a gift card is going to magically solve your problems. They won’t appreciate it, and you’ll be wading into those murky ethical waters.
But I’ve also had some great managers who work ridiculously hard. Managers who support their team members and prop them up whenever they can. Those are the managers you want to celebrate on Boss’s Day.
If you have one of those managers, here’s how to celebrate them on Boss’s Day.
1) Throw a party.
We’re still working remotely at my job, so I’m definitely limited in what I can do for Boss’s Day. That’s why I’m planning on hosting a Virtual Happy Hour. It’s completely free, will include all my team members so nobody has to worry about what to do for the boss for the holiday, and will allow us all to have a little fun.
If our bosses get an entire day dedicated to them, I think it’s only fair to embarrass them a little! If you have a conservative workplace or a strained relationship with your boss, this might not be the best idea. But if your team gets along well and you often joke around with your manager, play classic party games that will make your boss the center of attention. See who knows your boss best and maybe expose their five-cup-a-day coffee habit in the process!
If you’re in the office and can spend a few dollars, order in lunch (you can have everyone pay for their own or expense it if that’s allowed,) and have a low-key party. Everyone wants an excuse to take a long lunch and have fun during the workday. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant to show your boss you care.
2) Write Your Boss A Quick Note
Another free option is to write your boss a quick note thanking them for their support over the last year. Write a few sentences showing your appreciation and be specific! If your boss helped you prepare for a presentation, thank them for the public speaking tips. If they’re always there for you with words of encouragement during tough days, let them know that you notice, and it means a lot. A brief note can mean so much more to your boss than a gift that cost a day’s pay. When done right, managing a team can be very challenging, so showing your manager you recognize the effort they put in can go a long way!
3) Make a Video
4) Sign a Card
This is another low-cost idea that involves minimal effort on your entire team’s part. One person will have to get a card, but that’s about it. If it’s October 16th and you’re reading this because you frantically Googled what to get your Boss for Boss’s Day, you can even print one out and have a gift ready in seconds. Or if you’re working from home, you can send an e-card. Just pass it along to every member of your team, have everyone write a one sentence thank you, and you’re all set!
5) Give a framed photo of your team.
This may be what you gave your mom when you were finally old enough to give your own gifts for Mother’s Day but not yet old enough to get a job and pay for a present. But it works. Whether your boss was recently promoted or has been a manager for years, it’s nice to give them a memento that will remind them of your team. If you’re the first employees they’re managing, how nice will it be for them to look back years later and remember their first team? If they’re a seasoned manager, they’ve probably worked with dozens of team members, and will appreciate remembering your specific group. It’s a super inexpensive present, but it will mean a lot to your boss.
6) Buy a Small Gift as a Team
One final suggestion is to pool your money and buy your boss something small as a token of your appreciation. Something like a succulent or motivational quote art to decorate their desk won’t break the bank but will remind your boss of your appreciation all year. And of course, giving a gift card for them to buy their coffee for a week will go a long way!
However you celebrate Boss’s Day, remember that it should be about showing genuine appreciation to a person who supports you every day. If your manager doesn’t do that, you absolutely don’t have to give the holiday a second thought. Celebrating Boss’s Day can be a nice way to break up the workday and have some fun in the office, but it shouldn’t be an expectation. Your boss has to earn their accolades.