Gifts for Bosses That Take the Work Out of Shopping
A “boss” is more than just the person who signs your checks. If you’re lucky, they can be a mentor, friend, role model, cheerleader and lifesaver, speaking up for you on your behalf and saving your behind more than once. You likely spend more time with this person than with your spouse, family and friends, which is crazy considering how little you may know about their personal life. Gifts for bosses can be tough because you want to enrich their lives in some way, not clutter their desk or add more obligations to their already maxed-out days. You want your gift to help them relax, expand their mind, or add some fun, beauty or comfort to their day with little to no effort required on their part. If you know anything about their out-of-office hobbies or big-picture dreams, help them pursue them. Buy something that nudges them toward their goals or fills a need that helps them get back to pursuing those pleasant activities sooner. Or buy something that upgrades something they have to use anyway–glam up their ordinary tools to add a pop of sizzle and a smile to their day. And as any teacher will tell you, think outside the box. Don’t get them a “boss gift.” Personalize it if you can with a monogram or a funny note, or err on the safe side with something that is classy and unique. No matter what, they’ll be thrilled that you took the time to choose something special for them.
Beaches, by Gray Malin
If your boss is an avid beach lover–or never seems to use all of her vacation days!–this beautiful photography book will deliver a meditative opportunity to daydream, or inspire her to book her next trip now. Shot from a doorless helicopter high above beaches around the world, artist Gray Malin pulls you in with rich images that contrast the sparkling turquoise and sea-green hues of the freeform water with its human worshippers scattered across the sand or lined up like brightly colored pieces of candy. If you hold the book to your ear and close your eyes, you can almost hear the waves.
To buy: $28, amazon.com.
Yampa Valley Sauce Company Habanero Hot Sauces
Help a foodie boss wake up those boring desktop lunches with this arsenal of hot sauces from a married couple based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. (Apparently he knew she was “the one” when she pulled a bottle of hot sauce out of her purse at lunch.) There are four flavors: “Broja” starts with a traditional tomato base, but adds an infusion of carrots. Sweet and rich “Purple Blaze” has blueberries and is great on stir-fry or grilled veggies. “Habacado” features the flavor of avocado, and “Strabenero” has (drum roll) ripe strawberries in the mix, and works well for grilling or as a marinade.
To buy: $33 for a set of four five-ounce bottles, uncommongoods.com.
MIKOL Real Marble Notebook
Does your supervisor eschew electronic calendars and Notes for the satisfying feel of recording ideas, to-do lists, and doodles in an actual notebook with a pen? It may feel retro to write things down, but obviously the feel of touching pen to paper grounds your boss and unleashes her creativity. Don’t let them jot down the next big idea on a cheap, flimsy spiral-bound pad. This gorgeous, light and sturdy notebook with a real marble cover adds gravitas and elegance to even the most mundane thoughts. Each is unique since the covers are cut from 100 percent natural marble. Available in either Carrara white or nero marquina (black), each has 180 acid-free, archival-grade pages and measures 8x5 inches.
To buy: $85, ahalife.com.
S’well Water Bottle
Water bottles may seem like a lame gift, but this work of art will elevate the act of sipping water, coffee, champagne or whatever else your boss likes to drink while exercising to a style statement. This double-walled, stainless-steel, 10¼ x 2¾-inch insulated bottle is created to keep cold drinks chilled for up to 24 hours, hot drinks toasty for up to 12 hours, and sparkling seltzer or other carbonated drinks bubbly. Its wide opening makes it a cinch to fill, add ice cubes and clean. Bonus: S’well donates a portion of the proceeds from each bottle sold to UNICEF to help bring clean drinking water to kids around the world.
To buy: $35, nordstrom.com.
West Elm Stone Bookends
Avid readers often treasure their books as prized personal possessions. The most special tomes are handled with kid gloves, loved and even hugged, their pages filled with memories and revelations. If your boss loves her hardcovers, these handsome gray marble bookends with brass-finished inlays will be stylish sentinels to keep them securely propped on a shelf and spotlight their meaningful place in her life. If her shelf or desk is tight on space, buy just one (each measures four inches x two inches x four inches) to act as a paperweight or a swanky piece of art deco sculpture.
To buy: $78 for two ($39 each), westelm.com.
UncommonGoods Desktop Golf
Succeeding at golf and life requires hard work, intense concentration–and lots of quiet breaks to mull over problems, options, or putting pitches! This miniature golf course looks static but you can tweak the surface to change the pitch of the green on both sides, helping to make the shot a little different each time. If your boss likes golf and needs an anxiety buster, this is a relaxing treat and small enough to fit on a desk and then hide in a drawer. When she makes a hole-in-one, the flag has a magnet for easy ball retrieval. Gophers cost extra.
To buy: $35, uncommongoods.com.
Huzi Design Infinity Pillow
Business travel can be a special form of torture for weary workers. Give your boss a little bliss for their journey via this hypoallergenic, anti-bacterial pillow loop inspired by the Mobius strip. They can twist, fold or wear it like a necklace to add a little cushion for their neck or back, or use it to prop up books or block out light. Available in grey or navy and made of bamboo fabric and 3M Thinsulate, this travel pillow also includes a carrying case with a strap that fits easily over a carry-on’s retractable handle for accessibility and transport.
To buy: $39, ahalife.com.
Anthropologie Celestial Coaster Set
These striking clay-and-glazed-glass coasters are a great gift for a boss who you may not know well, but hope to impress. These demonstrate your own sophisticated taste, as well as showing that you care about keeping their tables safe from evil glass-shaped water rings! They’re so pretty to look at, even just propped up against a backsplash or a cubicle wall. Available in seven lovely colors–from icy white or blue to “springy” rose garden or sherbet hues–these four-inch square, made-in-the-USA coasters will definitely impress and enthrall.
To buy: $40 for a set of four, anthropologie.com.
Wood Tray Brooklyn Desk Lamp
Often the best solution for making someone feel like they have everything handled is to help them achieve the appearance or illusion of control. One small corner of order can influence the rest of the room and lighten a busy boss’s load, especially when this oasis is beautiful to boot. Great for a desk or office corner–or entryway or bedside table at home–this walnut-finished pine lamp and tray illuminates and cradles small items so that your boss can really avoid sweating the small stuff. Best of all, the Edison-inspired bulb is included and casts a soothing candle-like glow.
To buy: $50, worldmarket.com.
Axel Design Beta Inkless Pens
Novelty-loving bosses–those who revel in new technologies or inventions, are curious about the world and are eager to share what they just read about or discovered–will seriously dig these eco-friendly inkless pens. How do they work? We have no idea. That’s what makes them irresistible. Sold in cherry wood, gold and silver or black aluminum, these pen/pencil hybrids are the brainchild of Jac Zagoory Designs. The lead and metal alloy tips create a grey line like a pencil does, but what you write won’t smudge or erase. There’s no ink to refill and they can be sharpened with fine sandpaper. Go figure!
To buy: $28 each, ahalife.com.
West Elm Bamboo USB Speakers
Turn it up! Is your boss a music junkie? Does she listen to classical for report writing, country twang for lunch, and rock and pop to help her stay awake in the middle of the day? Then this is the gift for her. Nicely sized to flank a computer screen, these vintage-looking, 100 percent natural bamboo speakers are ideal for streaming whatever musical genre makes your boss’s day a little better. When she’s ready to leave the office, she can take the music with her: The speakers are battery or solar-powered and measure in at 2.3 x 3.9 x 8” for easy transfer to the beach, a balcony or park blanket.
To buy: $59, westelm.com.
Anthropologie ‘Idiom’ Cord Wrap Set
An idiom is defined as “An expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements…” but we think you’ll know exactly what purpose these little satchels serve. Emblazoned with “It’s a wrap,” or “All tied up,” they are ideal for corralling the rangy chargers and earbuds swimming around at the bottom of your boss’s bag. Simply wrap up any errant cords into a neat circle, wrap one of these open-ended pieces of leather around it and secure with the tie. The gold color makes these easy to find in cavernous tote interiors and the cords will emerge safe and ready for action.
To buy: $12 for a set of two, anthropologie.com.
Gentlemen’s Hardware Bicycle Repair Kit
Does your boss cycle to work every day? Then we’ve got the gift for her. This flat-repair kit for bikes has everything your freewheeling boss needs for emergency tire patching. This kit tucks the seven essentials she’ll need to patch the wheel into a tidy little tin box. Assuming that she also carries a small bike pump (that might be a smart second part of this gift), she will be pedaling along again in no time. The kit includes four Allen wrenches and two screwdriver tips, a patch repair kit and two tire levers.
To buy: $20.50, jcrew.com.
Farmhouse Pottery Vermont Wood Fir Candle
Mmmmm-smelling candles can be pricey and are a purchase many people have a hard time justifying for themselves, which is why they make a wonderful present for meeting-wracked executives in need of a little chill time. This woodsy pine fir scent is created with American-farmed soy wax and hand-poured into reclaimed vintage glass in the dreamy state of Vermont. The amber-colored glass and cozy glow of the flame will refresh tired bosses and lull them into a creative or meditative space to relax or reminisce. Bring them a cup of hot cocoa and you’re golden.
To buy: $36, domino.com.
StikIt Tape Dispenser
Bosses who appreciate efficiency do not have time to chase a tape dispenser around their desk while they hold the item to be affixed with one hand and try to tear off a piece of tape with the other. It’s too easy to topple the dispenser, tear off a strip that’s too long or short, get the tape stuck to the dispenser, or tangle fingers in the tape. This tape dispenser turns down the stress by firmly gripping whatever surface you stick it to. When you’re ready to relocate it, gently peel it up and move along. Available in fog, mint and navy.
To buy: $20, bedbathandbeyond.com.
Coffee Syrup by Dave’s Coffee
Happiness in a bottle times two. Coffee-swigging supervisors who have discovered cold-brew coffee or crave a stiff shot in a hurry will appreciate these all-natural, hand-roasted elixirs. Now your boss can easily pull out one of these cane sugar-simmered and intensely rich coffee syrups and throw back a swallow, or mellow it out with milk and ice. They will receive one 16-ounce bottle of original–just coffee–and one 16-ounce bottle of mocha. These can also be drizzled over ice cream and added to coffee cake or muffin batter. Made in Rhode Island.
To buy: $22 for a set of two, food52.com.
Marble + Wood Geometric Objects
With mixed materials, this isn’t your average desk accent. The marble adds a clean, elegant look, while the wood brings an earthy quality to the piece. Choose from three different shapes—pyramid, hexagon, and polyhedron. These artful paperweights will sit pretty on your boss’s desk.
To buy: $22, westelm.com.
Rabbit Foot Fern ‘Totes on the Same Page’ Pencils
Show your allegiance to an awesome boss with these black pencils stamped with “TOTES ON THE SAME PAGE.” These make doodling, brainstorming and crunching numbers for your next raise much more fun (subliminal messaging, anyone?). What boss doesn’t want to be reminded how much they are adored, admired and agreed with every time they pick up a pencil to jot down an idea or puzzle through a problem? It reminds them that they’re good enough, they’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like them! And who doesn’t love a bouquet of sharpened pencils?
To buy: $28 for a set of 18, domino.com.
Suede Boho Zip Pouch
If your boss is always on the go, this roomy eight-by-11-inch pouch will help to keep her bag organized. She can use it to stash a small notepad, pens, or other office supplies—there’s even room for both her work and personal phones. In soft suede and bright colors (magenta, cobalt, orange, and seafoam) with a matching cotton chambray lining (except the black, which is lined with gray cotton chambray), this bag also comes with a free embroidered monogram for extra personalization. Free gift wrapping is also available, so this gift can go right from the package onto her desk.
To buy: $69, markandgraham.com.
Art Easel Desk Calendar
Your manager might rely on her smartphone’s calendar for everything, but there’s still nothing like a beautiful desk calendar for quick reference. This version, with marbled designs in a rainbow of colors—from pink and yellow to black and blue—will make a stunning accent on her desk. And she doesn’t have to throw away the pretty artwork once the month is over—she can tape or glue a photo over the calendar portion and use as a colorful mat inside of a frame. The 12-month set comes with a wooden block to keep the calendar upright—no thumbtacks or tape required.
To buy: $30, papersource.com.
Tea to Go
If your boss is more of a tea drinker than a coffee connoisseur, then she’ll love this on-the-go find. Place loose-leaf tea or tea bags at one end of the travel mug, fill with water, shake to steep, and drink from the opposite end. The glass cup will keep tea hot during the commute, while the silicone sleeve makes it easy and safe to carry.
To buy: $28, uncommongoods.com.
Old Fashioned Carry-On Cocktail Kit
For the business traveler, this TSA-friendly kit is the perfect way to enjoy a deliciously crafted in-flight cocktail. The small tin canister comes with everything you need to craft two Old Fashioned cocktails—cane sugar and aromatic bitters. Four other tins with the contents to create popular drinks are also available: the bloody mary (bloody Mary mix, rimming salt, and two mini pickles), the champagne cocktail (elderflower syrup), the gin and tonic (small batch tonic syrup), and the Moscow mule (ginger syrup). All kits also come with a recipe card, the appropriate bar tools, and a linen coaster.
To buy: $24, amazon.com.
Herb Garden Grow Jar Kit
Green thumb or no green thumb, this self-watering grow-your-own herb kit is easy to assemble. Plus, it doesn’t matter if your boss is an urban dweller with no backyard or misses all that yard he has at home when he’s cooped up in the office during the day, these herbs can be grown indoors or under a covered patio. The kit is packaged in a brightly colored Mason jar—choose from non-GMO organic cilantro, oregano, or basil seeds. Once the herbs outgrow the container, he can transplant them to a bigger pot or a real garden.
To buy: $20, shopterrain.com.
How to Play Like a Pro Kit
If your boss spends most of her time outside of the office at the golf course, this kit with golfing essentials will get plenty of use. She’ll always be prepared for a session on the links—included in the small tin are a golf tee, ball marker, divot tool, mini pencil, and a handful of toiletries. Two other styles also available: How to Be a Gentleman, which includes 15 essentials for men (collar stays, grooming tools, and more), and How to Be a Happy Camper, which comes with tools for the great outdoors (a compass, a plastic utensil, and more).
To buy: $16, birchbox.com.
Business Card Holder
Now she can keep her cards in one place instead of at the bottom of her bag or stuffed in her wallet. These monogrammed business card holders are ultra-professional and classic with the goldtone plate and enamel detail. A snap closure means the compact case will stay shut even in the most cramped and cluttered purses. Each initial comes in a different colored case like black, pink, red, green, or aqua. For a sweet surprise that’ll keep her caffeinated through even the busiest networking events, place a Starbucks gift card inside the empty case before wrapping it up.
To buy: $30, nordstrom.com.
Mint Plant Print
Instead of the requisite office fern (which normally dies in a month or two, especially in a dark office with overzealous air conditioning), this print will cheer up her desk and requires zero watering and not even a hint of sunlight. The watercolor comes unframed, so order early and frame the piece so she can hang it on her office wall or prop it up on a shelf. The shades of green will wake up a boring space, but the design is simple enough not to be distracting. Available in other designs—from flowers to kitchen utensils—too.
To buy: $21, thejoyofcolor.etsy.com.