So I got an internship and we had the orientation and everything. I am going to my actual workplace tomorrow and thinking of taking a box of doughnuts for everybody. Would that be okay?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Jim G., Michael Grubey, jcmeloni, gnat, Adam V May 21 '14 at 17:11

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I am going to my actual workplace tomorrow and thinking of taking some donuts in the morning. Would that be okay?

You mean for yourself, or others?

If you are thinking about just getting a box of doughnuts for all, go for it.

But for your first day, don’t bring your own food for lunch or snacking.

You might be stuck in meetings and they will give you food there. Or your manager/supervisor could take you out to lunch.

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    Thanks for the tip. I meant taking a box of doughnuts for everybody. – balbzr May 21 '14 at 2:19
  • @balbzr Then please do that! – JakeGould May 21 '14 at 2:23
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    Note that this might also be culture specific. In Dutch culture for example, providing treats on your first day might be seen as trying to suck up to the existing staff. Of course, this also varies heavily between different types of companies/industries. – Paul Hiemstra May 21 '14 at 13:24
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    Why wouldn't you bring your own food? Worst case: you eat the food on the way home/at home. But what if nothing of that happens? – Jeroen Vannevel May 21 '14 at 23:04
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    @JakeGould Ive never heard of anyone thinking it weird to bring a lunch, and I have had jobs where they don't take new employees out to lunch. – Andy May 23 '14 at 21:55

There are some risks to bringing snacks for everyone:

  • There may be a few people who don't eat certain things, whether it's for allergies, diabetes or religious reasons.

    There may be an unspoken rule that no-one brings snacks for everyone in consideration of those who may not eat it.

    Worse yet, there may be a spoken rule to only brings snacks conforming to certain requirements, and perhaps due to a lack of judgement or obliviousness to the fact that it was brought by a new employee, someone may eat something they're allergic to and end up in the hospital, or worse.

  • It may be seen as sucking up.

    This certainly varies between cultures though.

  • Perhaps some are on diets and may not appreciate the temptation.

  • You may not bring enough.

    It probably won't come across particularly well if you just bring enough for half the employees.

On the other hand:

  • Despite any of the above, it could be seen as well-meaning.

  • It might be seen as a fairly standard (i.e. expected) thing to do in some cultures [speculation].

Bottom line:

There are risks either way. Based on the factors mentioned above and any knowledge regarding them you might have, you should decide whether it would be a good idea or not.

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    Given the above, it might make more sense to bring them at the end of the first week, when you have the lay of the land, to say thanks to everybody for helping you settle in. – MJ6 May 21 '14 at 16:48
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    I would really hate to work at a place where any of these risks are a reality. Anyone that gets upset about a box of donuts will be impossible to please. – Eric Wilson May 21 '14 at 16:59
  • Additional downsides for doing this if you're a woman: inc.com/alison-green/… – BSMP Jul 19 '17 at 17:43

You're asking if it's okay to do something nice for your coworkers? Definitely! Lots of people like doughnuts, and it definitely doesn't hurt to be the nice guy in your office.

When I started working at my current job, I brought in mini cupcakes for my birthday. People stopped by my desk to say thanks and happy birthday, and so I was able to meet people and learn some names (and they all remembered who I was).


I wouldn't do it, particularly on the first day. It gives the impression you're barging in like a bull in a china shop, and that you're a kiss-ass. You have no idea what kind of politics you might be stepping in, who this might alienate or cause to resent you. Bad idea.

After you've been there for a few days at least, you've learned some of the customs and habits and culture of the place, seen what other do, etc, and you still feel bringing donuts in for everyone is appropriate, then OK. However, I caution that it's unlikely to be viewed positively when the lowest guy in the hierarchy brings donuts for everyone else. Given no other information, my first reaction as a more senior co-worker would be being slightly insulted that you think so little of us that you expect buying us off with donuts to actually buy you any favors. Of course I'd never tell you this, I'd just quietly think less of you and maybe laugh at you a little with others behind your back.

When you're the intern, act like the intern. It's somebody higher up's job to do little surprise favors for the staff on occasion. By doing it yourself, you are essentially pretending to be more than you are. I really don't see any upside here.

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    Really? Your first thought when somebody brings in donuts to share with the office is they are sucking up to you? – Ramhound May 21 '14 at 14:46
  • I agree with Olin. Can imagine various awkward situations caused by bringing treats for everybody in a new workplace. You just have no idea what is acceptable there and what is not. Take you time to find out more about the work culture and maybe you can bring doughnuts on your birthday. I changed my job recently, it's never occured to me to bring treats on the first day and it wouldn't be a good idea as i was busy with administrative and technical issues and simply wouldn't have time for introducing myself to everybody. – greenfingers May 21 '14 at 15:45
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    you expect buying us off with donuts to actually buy you any favors ... Wow. That is some hard-core cynicism. I wonder if you ever receive a give as a simple kindness. – Eric Wilson May 21 '14 at 17:01
  • @Ramhound: If they are low level providing treats mostly for those higher up, then yes, especially on the first day. Well, at least sucking up to the boss anyway. – Olin Lathrop May 21 '14 at 17:43
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    I can't imagine bringing snacks as a potential minefield, which must indicate that the political realities of my jobs have been very different from yours. (Or maybe I'm just oblivious to how I'm perceived.) – Eric Wilson May 21 '14 at 18:48

I think it would depend on how you bring the doughnuts. If there's a lunchroom that you could just leave them in, I doubt anybody could take exception to that.

However, if you bring them in to a meeting or pass them out to people in such a way that they are certain to know exactly who brought the doughnuts, it might get you labeled as socially needy. Also a bit presumptuous. Once you have worked with these folks for a while it might be okay, but give it a month or two. Also, you didn't mention your gender but on the off chance that you may be female I'd be doubly cautious. Bringing food, (especially food that you have baked yourself, btw), may lose you professional respect. Sad, but reality often is.

If you don't want to pass them out anonymously because they are intended as an overture of friendship or camaraderie, there are better ways to do that.

Give it a few days, then inquire around and ask about the office culture. Do people go out to lunch together, or generally bring their own lunches? If you ask around, that lets people know that you are open to going to lunch with them. Leave it to them to invite you, at least until you get to know people.

If you have been there a few weeks and no invitations, you might casually say "I was thinking of going to lunch at (pick someplace with wide appeal, not too expensive, but not fast food) and was wondering if anybody wanted to go with me?". Best to invite in a group of at least two or three; if you extend individual invitations people are likely to feel you are trying to get too personal with them. Especially if you are inviting someone of a different gender.

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