PSA: Administrative Assistant’s Day is Almost Here!

how-much-to-spend-for-administrative-assistants-dayAs some commenters are noting today, Administrative Assistant’s Day is April 27 — right around the corner.  (Most flower places are touting “Administrative Assistant’s Week” as starting April 24.)  We haven’t had a thread on gifts for your secretary/administrative assistant for a while, so I thought now would be a good time for one. (Pictured:100 BLOOMS OF PERUVIAN LILIES, available at 1-800-FLOWERS for as little as $34.99.)

First, a poll:
administrative assistants day

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Years ago, a friend explained to me that she always got her administrative assistant both flowers and cash: flowers so everyone in the office knows you appreciate your assistant, and cash to keep the assistant happy. My friend’s system made sense to me, so I never really looked for more than flowers — but I’m curious if other people get the assistant a personalized gift, or take him or her for lunch, or something else? Please comment in the thread about what you’re getting him or her — and how the equation changes if you share an assistant with other people.

Also, do you plan to celebrate Administrative Assistant’s Day or a full week?  Just curious…

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  1. Anonymous :

    If you want to show your Admin that you appreciate him/her, get flowers and a gift card. If you want to show that you value him/her, arrange a lunch meeting to discuss what they bring to the office and where they see themselves going in the next few years, and offer to support them in advancing themselves professionally in some manner (trainings, seminars, paid time to enroll in a course). As an individual who received that latter when I started out as and admin assistant I guarantee you that you will be paid back in loyalty and increased productivity.

  2. NYCAssociate :

    I am a junior associate at a large law firm in NYC. I give my secretary (who also works for/with 2 partners and another associate) a very generous cash gift, along with nice chocolates, at holiday time. I don’t think I have ever seen any of the secretaries in my office receive gifts on admin assistant’s day. That said, does anyone else feel flabbergasted that, in addition to the holidays, we are also expected to give gifts on a randomly designated “administrative assistant’s” day? Or am I just jaded?

    • Original Lola :

      It’s like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day – everyone should appreciate their parents and their sweetheart every day. And it’s true, they are Hallmark holidays, created completely by the greeting card and flower industries.

      But why not do a little something? If you can’t afford anything, then just a sincere appreciation. Or a little mentoring time, like another corporette suggested.

      Sure – we should be nice every day. But there’s no harm in being extra nice on an appointed day, too.

      • NYCAssociate :

        Lola – I totally agree and also agree with your comment above. I think part of my frustration comes from the fact that I am the only female attorney that my secretary supports and I don’t want to be get caught in that weird dynamic where I’m the only one who remembers and the male attorneys flake out.

        • I don’t think that’s so bad as long as you’re not pigeonholed into organizing the male attorneys and nagging them to get a gift. If you just happen to be the only one who gets your secretary something, well, you just look that much better to her.

        • Original Lola :

          Right, Em. I don’t see what’s so wrong about you being the non-flaky one. If they’re flakes, that’s their problem, not yours.

  3. I started at my firm about a month ago and don’t know my assistant all that well. However, everyone tells me she is one of the best assistants around. Question is, how much should I spend on her, given that we’ve barely worked together?

    • Downtownist :

      I would start with something small and work up to bigger for the holidays and her birthday. It’s hard to tell you how much you should spend on her without knowing how much you make (and therefore what would be reasonable).

  4. Edible arrangements are the best –

  5. I got my assistant a spa gift certificate – she can use it at virtually any spa for any service she wants. It was a huge hit and a big surprise. I gave about $100 which was more than I usually give. But she had been working some serious overtime for me without complaint around this time last year! Another bonus – it is an e-certificate!

  6. Possibly a minor detail but as a former admin asst I would much rather get a plant than flowers. :)

  7. Christmas, birthday, AA Day, I always give $80-100 in cash. It’s the gift my AA wants and appreciates. Some of the people I share her with give chocolates and flowers in addition to money but I’ve always thought that was more a gift for the gift-giver to show off. I’m very close w/my AA and if she ever left the firm, I would enjoy work substantially less.

  8. Ideas of what to get a male AA?

    • I’m the Administrator of a small firm, and three or four years ago I got the male members of the office staff the Hammacher Schlemmer Wind Defying Umbrella (the smaller version that fits into a briefcase or backpack). I have one myself and they are fabulous umbrellas and really do defy wind. I still see some of the guys carrying them.

    • Over the years, I’ve gotten my male assistant gift cards to Best Buy, gift cards to his favorite coffee shop, iTunes gift card, and a coupon for the cinema.

      I have a female now, but if I had continued with him, an appropriate gift could have been something for his kids or something relevant to his hobbies.

  9. I am an admin supporting executives for an FFRDC.

    This is a Hallmark holiday, I get it. That being the case, I think it is important the people I support only participate if they are comfortable doing so. Even if you don’t believe it is an expense-worthy event, it is always nice to hear that the work I do is appreciated and valued.

    I am sorry for those of you have work with the person whose expectations can ruin the day. A gift is never to be expected and if it is begrudged, it isn’t much of a gift.

    I can’t tell you what to do for your admin. But I do recommend that whatever you do, make it genuine. If it isn’t, what’s the point?

    • I would be willing to bet that I am the only other person reading this blog who knows what an FFRDC is.

  10. This is likely a stupid question, but I am a first year attorney and have never been in this position before. Does AA Day apply to just secretaries or to paralegals as well? Thanks.

    • ohmydarlin :

      Take a look at the thread above – if your para is the only thing, it’s a nice gesture. However, keep in mind that they are professionals themselves and (totally depending on the individual) may be taken aback that they’re seen as admin. If you have secretaries and paras, both, prob. get your paras in on a joint gift to the secretaries/receptionists.

  11. Talking Texas :

    We have a small office. Two attorneys. Three staff that are administrative and 3 staff that like to be administrative when food is involved. In the past the two attorneys have cooked and or catered breakfast, brunch and or lunch. Bringing in a “brunch” setup seems to be a hit. I’m ordering Sherris Berries this year for part of the treat. In the past I have given the gift of paid time off to my staff person for AA day. Always a big hit.

  12. anon and confused :

    Just started at my firm three months ago. We are sharing “teams” of assistants. That means anywhere from 2-4 associates share 5-7 secretaries. How the heck am I supposed to handle this situation? Get a gift for all 5-7 secretaries? or just the 1-2 who actually help even though 5-7 are assigned to me? And even if all the first years chip in and we split the cost for 5-7 secretaries, it still sucks for them unless we each chip in $300+. What do I do?

  13. I’m in a 2 lawyer, 2 assistant office. We skip flowers and get them each a gift card for the place of their choosing, and will all go to lunch on the (rare) day when we’re all in the building.

    Anon & confused, can you talk to the senior people in your firm about how things are done there? it sounds like it could be potentially awkward and expensive and there’s probably already a practice in place.

  14. Once I had a boss who gave myself and the other admin asst. old Christmas chocolates that had sat in his office in an unopened box as our gift for this “holiday.” He thought that highly of us. We were united peons eating old chocolate because we were desperate and candyholics.

  15. National Secretary’s Day has changed it name a few times over its history of existence, it changes so often it has us florist confused! No, florist did not create Secretary’s Day, nor did Hallmark. A businessman Harry F. Klemfuss created a special Secretary’s Day holiday and the holiday caught on.
    Call it whatever you want! It is a day to recognize and your assistant or assistants for performing small and large tasks that make the daily operations of a business run smoother.

    If you are an assistant enjoy your special day even if it goes unrecognized by those around you, the rest of us know how important you are!

  16. anon assistant :

    I am an assistant (not in law) and I very much dislike receiving AA Day gifts. I am a professional doing my job and I do not need a special day of recognition for my work. On occasion after a big job requiring lots of overtime (and aggravation), I’ve receive a thank you gift; that’s fine, that was for something specific. But a gift for being generally good at my job…I feel that is patronizing.

  17. So, my office gave everyone their administrative assistant’s day present a little while ago and…well, I was a little offended. Specifically, they gave everyone shampoo and a comb. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice that they bought us anything. But…personal hygiene products? Really? What was HR thinking when they decided on that? I feel like they might as well have bought us all designer deodorant or something.

  18. I don’t currently have a secretary as I’m now a solo practitioner. But when I worked at a firm I liked giving my secretary gift certificates to sephora and she always said she loved them. I think giving cash to people is awkward and I felt like with the gift card got to buy herself something fun that she might not have otherwise. However, my secretary at the time was a girl in her mid-twenties. Might not work for an older assistant.

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