It was pointed out that gift giving creates a sense of obligation and reciprocity, which can be awkward for a supervisor – especially if they have many students. Many people do not celebrate Christmas all because of their atheist stance, others routinely have their own religious holidays ignored by Australia’s Christian slant.
I don’t want to use them to cook with as that seems rude, so I have a shelf full of bottles of wine which lovely people have given me that I have never got around to consuming.
The little plate has sat on my bookshelf ever since and is often a subject of discussion when colleagues visit me.
Last year at this time I did a post on what to buy a Ph D student for Christmas, so I thought I’d continue the tradition this year with one on gifts for supervisors.
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.
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.