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In countries like Australia, where gift giving ‘rules’ are largely unspoken and context dependent, it can be difficult to know what advice to give.

Check first though – not every supervisor finds wielding the big red pen a fun way to spend their down time.) therefore people may never tell you they don’t drink. So here is my problem: I’ll have the odd glass of something, but Mr Thesis Whisperer doesn’t drink at all, so there’s no occasion to open the gifted bottles of wine at home.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.If you are in doubt, maybe just write them a Christmas card. Are you studying in another country and therefore living in a different ‘gift culture’ than you are used to?What do you think is the appropriate gift giving etiquette for the supervisor student relationship?For that reason I say that chocolates are probably a safer choice. Home baked goods The key advantage of the wine / chocolate gift is that they are meant to be consumed.

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.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.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.Make sure you ask more than one as opinions may vary.