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I am currently serving notice to my current company where I have worked for almost 3 years. I like my current company and colleagues, but as we are expecting a new baby in our life I need a better paying job to be more comfortable financially.

After I joined this company, I got married and got a cash gift from my manager and boss for my wedding. I did not invite them to a reception since my wedding happened in my home country.

I learned a lot of technical stuff from my manager who is a very cool person and a great mentor.

Now, I am thinking to give them a gift on my last day. I don't know what to get them since they are already rich and my budget is only 200 USD for each. Is it appropriate to give them a gift or is there any other way I can show my gratitude?

UPDATE:

Thanks for all answers and comments.

My reasoning for fixing $200 is because I received a cash of just over $100 for my wedding. In our Asian cultures, we always do slightly more than what they did.

I accept that lunch idea is great. But I understood from other colleague that it is not encouraged in our office for leaving employees. So I am now planning to give a small token gift like pen drive or something and say a big thanks.

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    Two hundred dollars? Is that a typo or are you seriously considering spending that much when you admit to leaving for financial reasons? – Lilienthal May 9 '16 at 11:20
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    A lot of folks talk about the $200 dollars limit but we have no clue how much these bosses gave to him/her for the wedding. My thought is people are too hung up on $200 dollars each with the idea that there is money issues. Could be the OP is leaving a 100k job for a 150k job. – Dan May 9 '16 at 12:16
  • I have given small token gifts to co-workers and bosses from time to time, nothing big, just from the heart. However, I have never given anything upon departure. Well sorta. Just a farewell lunch and few kind and honest words. The best gift I have given ex-bosses is unyielding friendship and support after I have left. So many have remained my friends even 15 years into retirement. I like loyalty, friendship, kind words, support, and just plain calling from time to time to show how much I have appreciated their support and kindness over the years. Cheers!! – closetnoc May 9 '16 at 15:33
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    @Lilienthal At least in Korean culture, gifts do not work the same way that we are used to in Western society. So cultural context is likely important here. – Timothy Lee Russell May 10 '16 at 22:11
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    @Lilienthal - indeed, in many cultures (particularly Asian) "gifts" tend to come with some future expectation of reciprocation. In one culture I was reading about - all the "gifts" are actually tallied by government officials to ensure adequate reciprocation and relative expenditure at future events. – HorusKol May 11 '16 at 3:00
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Cater a big lunch for the office would be my suggestion, probably come close to the $400 mark if it's a reasonable size office. Personal gifts sometimes might not be appropriate but free food always is.

Take the opportunity to make a small speech and thank them then in a nice way. A private acknowledgement is great, but a public acknowledgement in front of their peers and staff is a valuable morale boost for all concerned. They'll appreciate and remember it.

"Well, today is my last day, and finally I don't have to worry about you people anymore, so I'm going to be brutally honest and you guys can't fire me.... pregnant pause.... This is absolutely the best place I have ever worked at. XXX has been the best, and YYY has done such and such... etc,."

Insert a bit of humour, get a few tears flowing, and then everyone fills their stomachs and life is great. Judgement call on how you word it.

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    (+1) Just gave one yesterday. It's simple and works (almost) always :) – Dawny33 May 9 '16 at 7:48
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    Yep, so long as you keep it fairly short, nothing worse than people getting bored and the food going cold. – Kilisi May 9 '16 at 7:54
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    I have only ever seen big catered going-away lunches for people who have been at a company for decades, or who made a huge impact during their short time there. I do not get the impression that either of these situations apply to the OP, so having a lunch with a speech seems a little over the top. Just have a happy hour and offer to buy them a drink. – David K May 9 '16 at 12:39
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    I threw a friday afternoon pizza party at the last job I left, and briefly named and thanked the managers that gave me the biggest challenges and opportunities at the company. That was very welcomed by both management and my peers – Mathias R. Jessen May 9 '16 at 13:51
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    In New Zealand, leaving gifts are usually given to the staff member by their former company. If you want to give something back, food and/or alcohol is appropriate. There's a gourmet cupcake company in my city that is commonly used for this purpose. – Greenstone Walker May 10 '16 at 3:57
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Thank them. You can do that via a mail/card, in person or both. Gifts should always flow down, not up the chain of command. Yes, people routinely give gifts to management and many managers appreciate that. Many managers are however uncomfortable with the practice but will accept a gift to avoid embarrassing the employee or because they appreciate the gesture.

You mention learning a lot from your manager and how he's a "cool guy". I wouldn't word it quite like that but a genuine thank you is something that will be cherished much more by your manager than a small gift.

Alison Green from Ask a Manager explains why gifts should flow down, not up:

Etiquette says that gifts in a workplace should flow downward, not upward – meaning that gifts from bosses to employees are fine, but employees shouldn’t give gifts to those above them. This rule stems from the power dynamics in the boss/employee relationship, because otherwise people can feel obligated to purchase gifts when they don’t want to or can’t afford to – and managers should never benefit from the power dynamic in that way.

If you absolutely want to give them something, baked goods or other food are generally acceptable, preferably shared with the office or individually wrapped and given to all your colleagues. But you need to respect the cultural norms around this at your office and be mindful of allergies and the like. A bottle of wine is a dangerous gift because of that and people typically stick to baked goods.


EDIT: I've just reread your question and noticed that you put down two hundred dollars instead of the twenty that I thought I read. That is a ridiculous sum to spend on a personal gift and way, way, way too much for a workplace setting. Twenty dollars would be fine. Fifty is pushing it but within the realm of reason. Two hundred is just obscene and I strongly suggest that you rethink that sum. I can't imagine a manager who's aware of the problems of gift giving in the workplace accepting a gift with such a high value.

The fact that you got a cash gift for your wedding doesn't mean that you have to pay them back. That's why gifts flow down, not up. And keep in mind that if that cash gift was substantial it was likely paid for by the company, not the managers.

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    Too much can be made of such etiquette rules...it depends on the workplace, the people, etc. But I agree that a personal thank you is the most valuable thing to give in this situation. – user45590 May 9 '16 at 9:17
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    @JoeStrazzere It was, but that hardly matters. A parting gift is a gift no matter how you dress it up. Many managers will think it's unnecessary (and be much happier with a thank you email or card) and a fair few will be uncomfortable with the notion and fear that it sets a precedent. Simply put: a thank you will say more and stay with them much longer than any physical gift will, unless you can truly make it something personal. But in that case the OP wouldn't have to ask this. – Lilienthal May 9 '16 at 11:11
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    The edit part is completely out of line. It depends on so many factors that you do not get to call a certain amount "ridiculous". Words like ridiculous and obscene aren't really good advice. If you have the money (leaving for a better paying job doesn't mean you're poor, it just means you can get a better paying job), why not? – Nanne May 9 '16 at 14:27
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    @Nanne In 90% of the offices out there, an amount like that is out of line for a gift from a report to a manager. Sure, I'm assuming that he isn't making 300K a year but that's a fairly safe assumption to make and this site should have answers that apply generally. For most people, gifting this kind of money would be considered out of touch with workplace norms. – Lilienthal May 9 '16 at 14:33
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    @Nanne I'm talking average 9-to-5 offices here and I'm basing my answer on what I know of average US incomes and advice from a US workplace blog. Replace "90%" by "a majority" if you take issue with that number. Unless a question specifies otherwise this site defaults to answers for a typical office environment where that amount probably represents multiple days' worth of salary. Please ping me in The Workplace Chat if you want to disagree further. – Lilienthal May 9 '16 at 14:51
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Now, I am thinking to gift them on my last day. But I don't know what to gift them since they are already rich and my budget is only 200 US$ for each.Is it appropriate to gift them or is there any other way I can show my gratitude.?

$200 is far too much to spend, in my opinion. Find something much smaller, that is meaningful to you.

When a boss of mine left the company, he gave me a book that was personally meaningful to him. He wrote a little note on the inside cover expressing his thanks.

I thought it was a wonderful touch. I still have that book more than 10 years later.

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    Agreed. A meaningful but affordable gift will say much more than expensive wine or some other generic luxury gift. – Lilienthal May 9 '16 at 14:50
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    OP already mentioned that they are from another country from where they are currently working. A gift of something traditional from OP's country would be much appreciated. – Level River St May 9 '16 at 23:00
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A flower basket or some chocolates would probably be more appropriate. It's boring and vanilla but these are always more or less a safe bet. Include a personalized card when you feel like it.

Be mindful of food allergies, however - if your manager, for instance, has lactose intolerance and you know about this, then don't do chocolates.

The dollar value of the gift is almost irrelevant. It's about keeping a good impression and connection, and to show that you care.

That said, you certainly don't have to give a gift. A personalized card instead of a gift is equally nice to show appreciation, and in some cases can mean more.

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Company policy

Some companies have personnel policies forbidding any kind of gift or payment between certain employees, especially between a boss and underling. The idea is to avoid any kind of corruption or ever the appearance of corruption. Some policies have a monetary value limit to allow small token gifts. I suggest checking with the personnel office first if you decide to proceed with a gift. Otherwise you may be handing your boss/co-workers a problem rather than a gift!

Often such policies allow gifts when broadly benefiting a number of people, like the entire team or department. The key is that the monetary value be low and that the gift not discriminate amongst individuals. “Doughnuts for the office” is the idea, putting goodies in a shared space like the lunch room for any and all to take.

As other suggested, I would:

  • Go the latter route (treats for the office).
  • Give special heartfelt thank-you, handshake, and note for the individuals for whom you have a special debt of gratitude. That means more than any trinket or bauble.
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    Worth noting that it's far harder to claim undue influence when you're leaving the company the same day - unless you really want a good reference – Basic May 10 '16 at 17:36
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Many people here are recommending consumable items: chocolate, baked goods, flower baskets,... However, people often have dietary restrictions, either biological or self-imposed. You need to be certain that the person you're gifting to does not have such restrictions before you give them your gift. Even flowers could be risky, considering hay fever and pollen allergies.

If you do not know whether they have such restriction, or don't want to tip them off while asking for these, an alternative is to give them something leisure-related. Many bosses mention their hobbies or personal life during less formal moments, like during lunch breaks, smoke breaks or just randomly during work hours. If they mention something specific, like a certain hobby or sport they do, you could gift them something related to that. A boss that likes to golf (clichéd, I know) might enjoy receiving a set of personalized golf balls, while a boss that likes to play video games might enjoy a gift card for their preferred platform.

On gift cards: Many people consider these impersonal and not really suited as a gift. however, they have 3 main advantages:

  1. Gift cards are much more transparent in how much they are worth, both for the giver and the receiver. You're not going to run into hidden costs or calculations concerning how much your gift is worth.
  2. Gift cards can be pretty closely tied to the hobby of the user. True, if you just gift an Amazon or Walmart gift card, that's pretty vague, but giving a 20 USD Steam gift card to a PC gamer, or a 20 USD Barnes & Noble gift card to someone who likes to read, you show that you paid attention to what your boss enjoys.
  3. Gift cards always have value for the receiver. You're not going to gift someone a book they already own, or a game in a genre they don't like. They can choose for themselves what they spend it on.
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I would take this question, rewrite it a bit to remove the query, and put it on a card for your boss. (Since I like to create calligraphy, I'd do that, too, but it's not a biggie.) To that, I would simply add a warm farewell to the guy and explain that he's been a good friend and that you would love to stay in touch. Invite him to a dinner, possibly after you leave.

Mentors usually love to hear their proteges are doing well, so (and this is the hard part) actually follow up and call on him from time to time. Invite him to social things when you do some times. If you hear something that could help him, tell him. (basically, I just mean to say, put in the time to be a friend)

For the rest, a group shindig is a good idea. Filtering for a going-away party is rather rude, so if you have one of those, you pretty much ought to invite everyone.

On the other hand, as with your boss, if you'd like to emphasize ongoing friendship, inviting your friends to some stuff unrelated to work is a good approach. (Could be anything from taking a boat trip, a trip to a zoo, or potluck picnic, formal dinner... Truly, whatever works for your friends is fine.)

  • If OP wants to stay friends, then inviting ex-boss to dinner after leaving may be well received. Kind of "You're not my boss anymore, so our relationship has of course changed, but I'd like to change it to friendship". – Law29 May 10 '16 at 6:51
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To answer the OP's question: Is it appropriate to give them a gift or is there any other way I can show my gratitude?

No, it's not appropriate to give them a gift. Your work over the past three years has been enough of a gift. They paid you for that work, and you learned.

I would never accept a gift from a departing employee. In fact, our tradition for an employee that is departing is to ask them where they want to go to lunch, then pay for their meal.

You have done a lot of work for them over the past 3 years, and that's a managers way of saying thanks and good luck.

So tell you manager where you'd like to go for your going away lunch.

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