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Some people had no idea what to buy and expressed interest in such a post because the etiquette for this situation is so opaque.
Five years ago, a student gave me a little brass plate on a stand with an etched view of Hong Kong harbour.
I am no stranger to the odd bottle of wine or box of chocolates, but a little brass plate on a stand was unexpected kind of gift from a student.
If you feel this way you might consider a homemade, edible present which demonstrates you have taken time and care to make something special.
Christmas is a great time to make edible gifts as there are so many ‘themed’ choices in the tasty treat department.
I can whip through a whole draft in a couple of afternoons, sitting by the pool watching Thesis Whisperer Jnr swim, but find it stressful to do this kind of thing during the year, when I come home from work tired.
In countries like Australia, where gift giving ‘rules’ are largely unspoken and context dependent, it can be difficult to know what advice to give.
Just make sure you don’t give your supervisor food poisoning…As I highlighted in my story, experiencing the gift giving norms of another culture can be delightful.Wine / chocolates If you do decide to give a gift, in Australia wine is considered a safe, socially neutral choice.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’m not sure how you negotiate this social minefield, but perhaps, if you are unsure what is considered normal behaviour, ask the students who have been there longer than you.When I asked on Twitter what people were buying their Ph D supervisor I was surprised by the range of different responses.