Finally: just because certain behaviour is considered ‘normal’ doesn’t mean you have to normal.
Some people had no idea what to buy and expressed interest in such a post because the etiquette for this situation is so opaque.
In countries like Australia, where gift giving ‘rules’ are largely unspoken and context dependent, it can be difficult to know what advice to give.
Wine / chocolates If you do decide to give a gift, in Australia wine is considered a safe, socially neutral choice.
Unless, like me, your supervisor is not a big drinker.
Just make sure you don’t give your supervisor food poisoning…
Writing A few people told me they were giving their supervisor a conference paper or overdue chapter draft to read for Christmas. There is not a Christmas that goes by that I am not reading a thesis draft from a student or a friend (I’m looking at you Jason Downs).
However sometimes, like Amy, we want to give a gift that shows how much we care and value our teachers; store bought wine and/or chocolates can feel like a cop out.
If you feel this way you might consider a homemade, edible present which demonstrates you have taken time and care to make something special.
Unless of course the giftee is watching their weight, has a gluten intolerance, or is allergic to food preservatives … An expensive, permanent gift may be more of a burden than a pleasure.
First there is the question of taste, as illustrated in this clip from the Big Bang Theory where Amy gives Penny a huge painting for teaching her how to be ‘cool’: The rest of the episode revolves around Penny hiding her horrified reaction to the ugly painting and her efforts to avoid hanging it in her house, but in such a way that she wont hurt Amy’s feelings.
Some explained that in their culture it was not the done thing to give a gift to a teacher (make note all you students in Sweden).