21 Bosses Share The Best Gifts They Ever Received

There are always a few people on your holiday gift list that are tricky to buy for, whether it's your picky brother-in-law or the niece who has everything. One of the hardest names to cross off? Your boss.

To find out what gifts the head honchos really want, we went straight to the source. We asked CEOs, founders, and presidents from a variety of industries and companies about the best gifts they ever received.

The answers varied, but there was a common thread — and it wasn't price point. The most memorable presents were the most thoughtful. And little touches, like personalizing a notebook, can be mighty impressive.

While you probably can't replicate the exact gifts these executives received (most of us can't afford to give our bosses a David Yurman bracelet, for instance) they might provide inspiration for similar gifts. The bottom line? Don't be afraid to go with something personal; it will show your boss that you care (and pay attention to their interests).

Click through to see the gifts these leaders still remember, years later.
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Photo: Courtesy of Julia Hartz.
Julia Hartz, Cofounder & CEO, Eventbrite

If you've attended a lecture, music festival, or pretty much any other type of event, chances are good that you've used Eventbrite. Hartz told Forbes in 2015 that she runs the company "like a small, lean team," even though it's grown to more than 500 employees.
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"A personalized iPhone case from Chaos, a London-based luxe accessories brand created by stylist duo Charlotte Stockdale and Katie Lyall."

Hartz's case was customized with her initial — printed in orange, the color of the Eventbrite logo.

The Chaos Case in White, $184, available at Chaos.
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Photo: Courtesy of Susan Tynan.
Susan Tynan, Founder & CEO, Framebridge
Framebridge creates custom frames for all of your favorite photos and artwork, whether that's your kids' drawings, an art print, or an Instagram image. Tynan started Framebridge after having a bad experience with custom framing National Parks posters from her travels.
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"My parents bought me a Shinola The Birdy watch. I adore it because it's beautiful, but I also love the story behind it. Made in Detroit means a lot to me — I grew up in Cleveland and today, I run a business with manufacturing operations in Maryland and Kentucky."

Shinola The Birdy 34mm Leather Watch, $475, available at Shinola.
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Photo: Courtesy of Kimmy Scotti.
Kimmy Scotti, Partner At 8VC & CEO Of Monthly Gift

Scotti is the founder of Monthly Gift, a period- and tampon-delivery box service. She's also a partner on the investment team at 8VC, a venture capital firm. If that wasn't impressive enough, Scotti also created a jewelry line, Mimz New York, that was featured on Project Runway.
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"I'm obsessed with the matte-black custom V-Modas that my partner, Jake Medwell, at 8VC gave me. As a girl who made the move from fashion to tech, I'm always trying to bring my own personal style to my 'geekery.' My V-Modas have great sound, but are also so stylish, I'm happy wearing them around my neck!"

V-Moda Customizable Crossfade Wireless Headphones, $270, available at V-Moda.
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"Last year, my mom gave me a red Rimowa carry-on, and it is probably the most useful gift I have ever received. I split my time between New York and San Francisco, so I am in the air at least twice a week. This bag rolls super easily, its compartments allow me to stay super-organized on the go, and its glossy-red color makes sure it's never mistaken for someone else's bag!"

Rimowa "Salsa Deluxe" Cabin Multiwheel, $595, available at Bloomingdales.
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Photo: Courtesy of Vicki Fulop.
Vicki Fulop, Cofounder & Chief Communications Officer, Brooklinen

Vicki Fulop and her husband, Rich Fulop, founded Brooklinen, a luxury bedding delivery service. It eliminates the middleman — a.k.a, brick-and-mortar stores — from linen shopping.
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"One of the most thoughtful gifts I've ever gotten was a present for both [my husband] Rich and me. A bunch of our friends got together and gave us a gift card to an airline as a wedding gift — a free flight to anywhere we wanted to go to kick off our new life adventure together. It was such a cool way for them to celebrate us moving into a new phase of life together and we were absolutely sappy about it and loved it so much. We used the gift to book a trip to Costa Rica, so they really launched us off into paradise."

American Airlines Gift Card, various amounts, available at American Airlines.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Hendricks.
Elizabeth Hendricks North, President & CEO, CuriosityStream

CuriosityStream is a documentary-streaming service that's been dubbed the "Netflix of nonfiction." Its channel is available through Amazon and the Roku Channel Store, in addition to its own apps.
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"A great gift is a pair of earrings from my sister-in-law that match a bracelet she gave to me when I was her bridesmaid. Kate Spade's sailor knot bracelet and earrings go with everything."

Kate Spade New York Sailor's Knot Hinge Bangle, $78, available at Kate Spade.
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Photo: Courtesy of Anouk Zisa.
Anouk Zisa, Vice President Of Marketing, Ozobot

Ozobot's toy robots help teach kids about STEM and coding. The robots respond to color codes like commands, and the "color language" is actually patented by the company. Zisa serves as the brand's vice president of marketing and she's spoken about the importance of teaching children about "computational thinking."
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"As a child, my brother and I used to enjoy eating leberwurst with pickles at our grandma's house. It became a must-eat once a year and humorous family custom after that. My smart and beautiful little sister had the genius idea of having a leberwurst charm custom made for my 40th birthday. I love it. It's a wink to the amazing bond we have as a family."

MetalSpeakBangles Pickle Bracelet, $17.95, available at Etsy.
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Photo: Courtesy of Gabby Slome.
Gabby Slome, Cofounder & CXO, Ollie

Ollie is a meal-delivery service — for your dog. The site lets you customize your dog's meals based on its individual needs.
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"I am obsessed with my dog and also love gifts that give back. Last year, my husband bought me and our dog, Pancho, a new leash from Found My Animal. I love that they donate part of the proceeds to shelters and the leashes themselves help raise awareness of adopting, instead of buying your dog (our dog is a rescue, too). The best part is that they are super stylish and versatile to use, which is hard to find in a leash."

Found My Animal Magenta Ombre Rope Leash, $62, available at Find My Animal.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jenny Patinkin.
Jenny Patinkin, Celebrity Makeup Artist & Founder Of Lazy Perfection Beauty School

The Chicago-based Lazy Perfection Beauty School teaches women about makeup application. Patinkin has also developed her own Lazy Perfection line of makeup brushes.
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"When our oldest child was born, after all those hours of labor, my husband got me a scarf as a push present...which had been purchased from a street vendor outside the hospital. For our first anniversary, I got a sports bra; for our fifth anniversary, I got a set of How to Cook DVDs; and one year on Mother's Day, he got me some new oven mitts from the drugstore up the street. A couple of years ago, for our 19th anniversary, he got me a Crock Pot. Fortunately, by the time we got to 19 years of anniversaries and holidays together, he'd finally wised up and put a pretty new watch inside it to surprise me."

Cape Cod Watch, $2,975, available at Hermès.
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Munemi Imai, Founder, MUN

MUN's skincare products are organic and sustainable. The brand's argan oil serum is beloved by editors and bloggers — and it's vegan, too.
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"I can never have enough nice candles, so the classic Baies scented candle from Diptyque is an absolute favorite gift to receive (and give!). The aroma resembles a bouquet of roses (one of my favorite scents ever) and I particularly love how stylish the larger black version is. The person that gifts the black version goes the extra mile, and that consideration shows!"

Diptyque Baies Scented Candle, $90, available at Diptyque.
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Photo: Courtesy of Julia Straus.
Julia Straus, CEO, TULA

Beauty bloggers (and Refinery29's editors!) love Tula's probiotic skin-care products. Before becoming the beauty company's CEO, Straus worked at PopSugar and BaubleBar.
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"One year, the heating at our office was subpar and I complained about being cold to my team for weeks. So for the holidays, they gave me a 'quit the complaining' gift box with hand-warmers, a blanket for work, and my own space heater. It was hilarious and also very practical!"

West Elm Belgian Flax Linen Twill Throw, $99, available at West Elm.
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Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Roshini Raj.
Dr. Roshini Raj, Cofounder, TULA

In addition to being a cofounder of the probiotic skin-care line, Dr. Raj is an Associate Professor of Medicine at NYU School of Medicine.
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"A few months after the birth of my second son, I was feeling really overwhelmed between the baby, my 2-year old, and work. So as a gift, my husband booked me a room in a beautiful hotel just a few blocks from our apartment. I spent the night in bed, ordering room service, and watching cheesy Wedding Channel TV shows. And the best part was, I slept in the next morning! That recharge was one of the best presents I have ever received!"
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Photo: Courtesy of Kal Vepuri.
Kal Vepuri, Founder, Brainchild

Brainchild is a holding company that's invested in many of your favorite brands — think Sweetgreen, ClassPass, and Reformation, just to name a few.
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"One of my team members once gifted me a small, basic Moleskine notebook with my initials embossed on the cover. Ever since then, I've gotten into the habit of noting down my most important personal and professional to-dos by hand. It made me a better time manager for myself and my teams."

Moleskine Classic Notebook, $19.95, available at Moleskine.
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Photo: Courtesy of Karen Behnke.
Karen Behnke, CEO & Founder, Juice Beauty

Behnke launched Juice Beauty after looking for safe beauty products while she was pregnant. You probably recognize the brand from its work with Gwyneth Paltrow, who serves as the brand's creative director of makeup.
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"The team has amazingly gifted me two David Yurman bracelets, but my favorite present to date is this really cute small painting the team gave me to commemorate a huge win with one of our largest retail partners in Orlando. The sales and marketing team presented it along with a belly dancer at a tapas bar. They made me get up to belly dance alongside the professional!"

David Yurman Extra-Large Oval Link Bracelet, $650, available at David Yurman.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicole Centeno.
Nicole Centeno, Founder & CEO, Splendid Spoon

Splendid Spoon is a vegan meal-delivery service. Centeno is a French Culinary Institute-trained chef and she's taken classes in diet and nutrition, too. She believes in connecting mindfulness with food.
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"I am a big believer in non-gift gifts. My parents really guided me to treasure and appreciate the intangible gifts we receive every day, like a hug from my kids or a break in the clouds. However, I LOVE giving and receiving tangibles for the extra heightened-sensory pleasure it provides. The best gift I ever received was from my ex mother-in-law, Patti! She gifted me a full day at the Salt Aire Baths in Tribeca. It was a fully immersive experience that included ice plunges, salt water floats, and a deep tissue massage. As a mother and a business leader, I am so accustomed to giving and providing for my various teams and this gift was a really beautiful way to help me fully receive. So very enjoyable and rejuvenating."

Aire Aincient Baths, treatments vary by price, bookings available at Aire Ancient Baths.
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"My favorite gift from a team member came from a woman named Leah Kirts, who used to manage Splendid Spoon's content. She went on a trip to India and returned with a box of loose-leaf Darjeeling for me. Tea itself carries so much history and ritual, as well as the deep care and attention from the various hands who have grown, harvested, dried, and packed the leaves. Plus, this was a transformative trip for Leah's personal growth, so it made me feel special that she thought of me during her journey. I feel her presence and am grateful for her friendship and her place with Splendid Spoon every time I steep a cup of that Darjeeling."

The Republic of Tea Darjeeling Black Full Leaf tea, $13 for a 3.5oz tin (about 50-60 cups), available at The Republic of Tea.
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Photo: Courtesy of Tal Winter & Kate Cutler.
Tal Winter & Kate Cutler, Founders, bkr

Bkr was on the forefront of the glass water bottle craze. Its bottles are way prettier than plastic, not to mention being sustainable, too.
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"One of my employees gifted me a manicure at Bliss — because she knew I needed to take some time for myself. It was so sweet." — Tal Winter

Bliss gift card, available at Bliss.
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"The best gift I ever received was a rose-gold-plated crystalline stardust pen from Swarovski — I love things that make daily life feel a bit more fabulous." — Kate Cutler

Swarovski Crystalline Stardust Pen, Rose Gold Plated, $35, available at Swarovski.
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Photo: Courtesy of Joanna McFarland.
Joanna McFarland, Cofounder & CEO, HopSkipDrive

HopSkipDrive is a ride-hailing app for children — so, unsurprisingly, it's been called "Uber for kids." All drivers are required to have a minimum of five years' childcare experience. McFarland, a mom of two, earned her MBA from Stanford before cofounding the company.

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"The most meaningful gift I ever received was a watch that my friend willed to me when she passed from cancer. She created a jewelry will and gave pieces to all her friends and family in a very thoughtful way. She gave me a beautiful watch, because 'every high-powered executive needs a good watch.'"

La Mer Collections Navy-Gold Monaco Watch, $175, available at La Mer Collections.
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Photo: Courtesy of Janelle McGlothlin.
Janelle McGlothlin, Cofounder & CMO, HopSkipDrive

In addition to serving as HopSkipDrive's CMO, McGlothlin helms copywriting firm Writebrand. She holds two bachelor's degrees and is a mom to three children.
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"My husband has a special way of keeping me grounded and reminding me of what's important. This past Mother's Day, he took a piece of art that each of my three kids had made and had it transformed into three silver charms for a necklace. I love wearing it and it always reminds me of the four people who are always in my corner."

Kidz Can Design Traditional Sterling Silver Necklace (with ability to upload customizable artwork), $59.99, available at Kidz Can Design.
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Carolyn Yashari Becher; Cofounder, Head of Policy & People/General Counsel; HopSkipDrive

Becher, a mom of three, cofounded HopSkipDrive. She serves as its head of policy and people and has a JD from UCLA's School of Law.
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"The most meaningful gift I have ever received was a trip to Miraval Resort and Spa with my sister to celebrate a milestone birthday. ​A weekend of meditation, exercise, spa treatments, and good food was exactly what I needed at a time that I was working what felt like 24/7 to help get HopSkipDrive off the ground."
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Photo: Courtesy of Andrea Graziani.
Andrea Graziani, CMO & Cofounder, DUFL

DUFL is a travel app that lets travelers fly without luggage. The DUFL service will pick up your packed bag and send it to your destination, so you don't have to deal with baggage claim. They'll even wash your clothes after the trip.
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"The most meaningful gift I've ever received was from one of my favorite bosses. I learned so much from her, she was a mentor, and has remained one of my very dear friends. She showed me how to work hard, be tough, work smart, make critical decisions and also how to be human — to be supportive and kind to the folks you work with as we all have personal lives and family issues that sometimes take precedence over work. One year, she gave me an angel tree topper for Christmas along with a personal note that meant a lot to me. (It looked very similar to this one). I still have that angel, almost 18 years later, and it sits on the top of my Christmas tree. I think of her every year when I take it out of the box and all through the holiday season."

Santa's Workshop Angel Tree Topper, $33.10, available at Wayfair.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Richards.
Jessica Richards; Founder, Shen Beauty; Beauty & Wellness Director, Free People

Shen Beauty is a favorite store among NYC It Girls. Richards opened it after noticing there weren't many beauty stores in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.
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"The best gift I ever received was from my son, Carter, and it was a black-and-white drawing of the three of us. It came wrapped and when he gave it to me, he said, 'Mommy, we will always be together.' It was two years ago and the sweetest thing, ever."

Framebridge custom framing ranges from $39 to $159. Pictured: Irvine Slim Gallery Frame, available at Framebridge.
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