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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.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?

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When I asked on Twitter what people were buying their Ph D supervisor I was surprised by the range of different responses.

Some people had no idea what to buy and expressed interest in such a post because the etiquette for this situation is so opaque.

Have a look at this post on Christmas baking for some ideas.

Just make sure you don’t give your supervisor food poisoning…

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.

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.

Check first though – not every supervisor finds wielding the big red pen a fun way to spend their down time.

Nothing I’ll admit I was surprised when some people questioned the idea of buying a present at all.

Some explained that in their culture it was not the done thing to give a gift to a teacher (make note all you students in Sweden).

Unless, like me, your supervisor is not a big drinker.