National Boss Day 2015: 10 Affordable Gift Ideas

From desk plants to presents for pets, there are plenty of ways to thank your boss for having an impact on your career.

Workplace pressures like deadlines and multiple projects can make it difficult to thank bosses for everything they do. Supervisors fulfill an invaluable function; not only do they act as the glue that holds the company together, keeping workflow on target and managing staff, but they also provide the motivation employees need to excel. Friday, October 16 is National Boss Day 2015, and it’s the perfect chance to show gratitude for your supervisor, director, editor, coach or mentor.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money or buy an expensive Boss Day gift. In fact, most bosses appreciate the time, creativity and sentiment put into homemade, do-it-yourself gifts or affordable keepsakes. The goal is to express gratitude, not to try too hard to impress with a big price tag.

Related: How to Convince Your Boss to Give You a Bigger Paycheck

How Did National Boss Day Begin?

National Boss Day’s beginnings date back to about 1958 when an Illinois insurance company employee named Patricia Bays Haroski went to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, successfully pitched the holiday idea and had it officially registered. She chose her father’s birthday — October 16 — as the date because he was, according to Haroski, an example of a perfect boss.

Later in 1962, the governor of Illinois made National Boss Day official, ensuring it a permanent place on the calendar. Today, National Boss Day isn’t just an American tradition — it’s widely celebrated throughout India, Australia and South Africa, among other countries.

Creative and DIY Gifts for National Boss Day 2015

On your own or together with your co-workers, take National Boss Day as an opportunity to show your manager or supervisor you care. The following budget-friendly gifts are ideal for honoring that special boss who’s made a difference in your career.

1. Homemade Zen Rock Garden

Designed for stress relief and relaxation, prepackaged miniature Zen gardens are beautiful but often overpriced. Instead of shelling out for the store-bought variety, make your boss a garden from scratch. You just need an empty picture frame filled with some sand and pebbles, votive candles and a mini rake.

2. DIY Desk Plant

Instead of a last-minute bouquet or wilted plant from the store, create a DIY desk plant to honor your special boss. Do you have a houseplant at home? Cut off some trimmings and plant them in a pot to create a new plant for free. Herbs picked from your garden work just as well. A living, growing plant is a great way to celebrate how your boss has helped you grow as a worker.

3. Potluck Lunch

Everyone appreciates a free meal. One option for National Boss Day is for everyone at the office to pitch in and take the boss out for lunch. Another is to throw a potluck party in celebration of your all-star manager. Arrange for each of your colleagues to bring in a dish — if it’s a favorite of the boss’, even better.

4. Custom Monogrammed Coffee Mug

Most managers thrive on caffeine, but if a new Keurig machine or pound of Kona coffee is out of your price range, buy your boss a coffee mug, with a twist. Tip Junkie recommends using a ceramic pen to monogram your boss’s initials on the mug; “#1 Boss” or “Boss of the Year” are also good options.

5. Wall of Appreciation

If your company allows it, arrange for each of your co-workers to write a quality they admire about your boss on a wall inside your office. If it’s not permitted, use a white board and frame the final product for your boss to hang up. A third, highly affordable option is to buy a blank greeting card for everyone to record messages.

6. Pet Gift

If your boss is an animal lover, buy a small gift, treat or toy for your boss’ dog or cat. If your supervisor loves his pet, he’s sure to appreciate the gesture.

7. Membership

Have you heard your boss talk about wanting to join a gym? If you belong to a health club, you might be able to sign your manager up for a free trial membership.

8. Inspirational Book

If your boss has been an important influence on you, buy him a book about Warren Buffett or another famous businessperson known for influencing others. If that hardcover is too much, look for promo codes online for retailers like or seek out a gently used copy for less.

9. Picture Frame Desk Organizer

An uncluttered desk helps inspire productivity. Encourage organization with a DIY gift your boss can show off and utilize at the same time: a homemade desk organizer. Start by purchasing a picture frame and some gauzy fabric; then cut the fabric into sections and glue them on the frame’s backing in tiers to create pockets of different sizes. The pockets can be used for pens, memos, envelopes and other office supplies.

10. Novelty Gifts

On stressful days at the office, a sense of humor can make all the difference. Tongue-in-cheek gifts like a bellhop desk ringer tell your boss that you’re dutifully at his service. Just use your intuition to make sure your boss won’t take this gift the wrong way.

If your boss just isn’t the type to be receptive of gifts, don’t stress: a simple, “Happy Boss’s Day!” can be just as meaningful and appropriate. If all else fails, simply doing your job — and doing it well — is perhaps the best way to to honor your boss on National Boss Day.