Don’t Sweat the Boss’s Engagement Party

Dear Ms. Cards Etiquette

My boss is throwing an engagement party this month. I’m already strapped from the holidays! Do I need to bring a gift? I’ve never been to an engagement party before.

Not Trying to Be Cheap in Long Island

Oh dear, Trying. If it were just a friend inviting you, then a small gift would be totally appropriate, but these things are always so much more touchy when work is involved.

Of course you are not obligated to buy your boss a gift, ever. It is pretty well universally understood that an employee (unless you’re very well paid) has a lot less money than their superiors. However, I well understand that you still feel like you should bring something.

There is a nice way out of the gift-giving obligation you feel.

Bring a bottle of wine or champagne, or some flowers for the table (if it is in the boss’s home). That way you don’t look like a cheapskate for bringing nothing, but since you’ve brought something everyone can enjoy, you also don’t have to worry about looking like you’re trying to “buy off” the boss’s favor with a personal gift. A congratulations card with any small gift you give is important just so your boss knows what it is you brought.

However, you really don’t need to bring anything. A congratulations card alone is perfectly acceptable.