I am leaving a company where I have worked for a few years on friendly terms, as I got a job with another company.

In the past I worked in the same kind of role in a couple of companies in the Netherlands and both had an 'office tradition' where a person who leaves the company orders pies (they are the size of small pizzas) on their last day, to be shared by their colleagues.

I don't want to be ignorant about this, so here is my question:

In the USA, are there any customs (or polite things to do), similar to that Dutch tradition, that a person leaving the company might be expected to do?

  • 3
    You're giving at least 2 weeks notice?
    – user8365
    May 6, 2015 at 15:30
  • 3
    Typically there's not a whole lot of tradition in American business practice. Two weeks notice is all you need to worry about, but I would suggest also making sure that you are not slacking your last few weeks. Sending out a professional farewell e-mail is appropriate and maybe bringing in food for your last day depending on where you work and your relationship with your fellow employees/boss, but it's not considered inappropriate not to do so.
    – zfrisch
    May 6, 2015 at 18:58
  • 6
    At a decent company, the tradition is actually the opposite...your teammates get you a treat/lunch/happy hour.
    – DA.
    May 6, 2015 at 21:57
  • 69
    There is a tradition for blaming the guy who's leaving for everything that goes wrong for the next few weeks/months, but I don't think that's the kind of tradition you're looking for.
    – BrianH
    May 6, 2015 at 22:21
  • 4
    As a side note, even though there isn't an American tradition really, I think it would be a big plus to bring pies and mention that it's a Dutch tradition to bring them on the last day. It leaves a good impression because it's personal and professional.
    – zfrisch
    May 7, 2015 at 19:36

5 Answers 5


There's not really anything specific or expected, other than giving 2 weeks notice prior to leaving formally. Saying goodbye to coworkers, perhaps leaving contact information.

Oftentimes a team might go out for a lunch, depending on circumstances of the person leaving. Or bring treats/donuts/etc.

But there is nothing similarly traditional in the USA. Each company/team will have its own culture for this.


If you have worked at this place for multiple years, some colleagues of yours probably have left before you. What did they do? Let yourself be guided by the traditions that have grown up at this particular place.

If nobody left on good terms before you did, you could simply ask someone with longer tenure than you.

And donuts are probably always appreciated.

  • 6
    This. If there are any traditions, they are by definition set by precedents. May 7, 2015 at 6:07

If you are leaving on good terms a really good thank-you email goes a long way. You can even call out specials thanks to a couple key people you worked with and then thank others. Leave a personal email address for sure and if you are feeling really frisky, throw in your cell phone.

Going out for drinks, bringing in breakfast, group lunch are all norms but a great thank-you email has the most impact. I personally have a "Old Contacts" folder in Outlook and things like this go in there. I have pulled from that folder quite a few times for job openings in our company.


The courteous (and possibly contractually obligated) thing to do is to give your employer your two-weeks notice before leaving your position. You are also usually expected to hand over any company equipment, documents, and anything else they may have given you during your tenure.

Commemoration-wise, there's no national tradition for an employee leaving a company. Some offices will host a party for the employee, thought that is more typical of a retirement than an elected departure. Some employees will elect to bring in donuts for their co-workers, or a cake, or some other gift to the office to thank them for their time together.

But it will vary from state to state, and from town to town, and from company to company. United States businesses are very individualistic, and you'll find each company does things differently - in fact, even offices within the same company will do things a little differently from one another - there really is no standard.

If you want a suggestion, you could mention to your current boss that you'd like to give the office a going-away present to thank them for the many happy hours you worked there, and they might be able to suggest something (baked goods, a new coffee machine, et cetera) but they're just as likely to say 'that's not necessary', and completely mean it. As long as you're responsible in your departure, you've covered all your obligatory bases.

  • 3
    I'm not sure anyone in the US is 'legally obligated' to give two weeks notice. Contractually obligated, perhaps.
    – James Adam
    May 7, 2015 at 15:32
  • 1
    @JamesAdam A contract would be a legal obligation I believe, but only if it's binding. I'll edit my answer though.
    – Zibbobz
    May 7, 2015 at 15:37

All the answers recommending giving 2 weeks notice are correct, but leave something out: you are expected to work those full 2 weeks, and not take vacation time during them. After your last day, you should be compensated for any earned, unused vacation time you have accrued. If your employer does not pay you for unused vacation days when you leave, you may want to think about taking that time off before putting in your 2 weeks notice. I don't know if it's legally required that they do so in the US but I am in the US and the 3 companies I've worked for in my career all reimbursed for unused vacation time when an employee left.

  • It's not legally required. It's company policy at some places, but not at others. Either way, it should be spelled out in the employee handbook or other such company policy/employee benefit document.
    – reirab
    May 7, 2015 at 18:57
  • Why the downvote?
    – Dan C
    May 12, 2015 at 14:53

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