This question is already asked here. But I found the answers unhelpful, so I would like to ask again, and narrow to the case the advisor is Italian (but has lived in the UK for 20 years).

I would like to buy a gift, so suggestions such as in the accepted answer "be someone who is easy to advise" is not helpful. I already finish my PhD anyway.

I am thinking of possible options:

  • Chocolate (sound informal)
  • Shirt (I don't know his size)
  • My PhD thesis with beautiful hard-bound cover (I doubt that he will ever read it again)
  • ...

Please give me some suggestions. I'm an Asian, and do not know much about European traditions. At first, I intended to invite him (and all people in the group) for a drink on my viva date, but it turned out he insisted to pay for all :(

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    a bottle of wine or something to eat or a dinner at a nice restaurant. Avoid little gifts that end up in the trash. Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 7:27

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure whether the fact that he is Italian makes any difference in the choice of a gift, but anyway here are my suggestions. Maybe they won't help you, but hopefully some students of mine will read this (ha ha!).

Avoid the shirt and your PhD thesis (don't take it personally, but PhD theses don't make a nice night reading...).

  • A good book, if you know his reading tastes, or a gift card to be spent in a bookshop (if you're in London there are wonderful bookshops). If you buy a book you can think of writing inside it a short dedication (so long and thanks for all the fish...)
  • A bottle of wine or two. However, as far as I know, it might not be easy to find a good bottle of wine at a reasonable price in UK.
  • Chocolate, yes: a chunk or a bar of good dark chocolate is typically welcome.

Instead of something related to Italy, how about something related to your own home? I (in the US) had a student from China; she gave me a tapestry depicting the Great Wall. I still have it hanging here many years later.

Important note: you have finished the Ph.D. Giving gifts before that may be seen as an attempt to bribe him. It seems to be the custom in China and Korea to give gifts to the professor, but not in the US (probably also not in the UK). Wait until after you are finished, so it won't be seen as an attempt to unfairly influence the professor.

  • 1
    In the UK the advisor has nothing to do with the examination of his students, so influencing him should not be considered a problem. However it might be considered a bit presumptuous!
    – Calchas
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:04
  • Yes, I already finished my PhD. Moreover, as Calchas also said, in the UK the examiners decide the outcome, and the advisor is not allowed to attend the viva.
    – sean
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 15:09
  • Something beautiful from your country would be a great choice. It could be something to go on the wall or a book of photographs. You could also choose an object that is related to something about the UK that has intrigued you or meant a great deal to you. That would be a way of giving the professor something of yourself. Another possibility would be a small photo album with captions, that follows your trajectory through your studies or your sojourn in the UK. Our goal is for the professor to look at this gift in 10 years and feel once again the satisfaction of having worked with you. Commented Jun 14, 2015 at 21:57

From your last sentence, he seems to be a welcoming and generous person: you say he insisted in paying for all. I don't think that happens often (I'm Italian, and I haven't seen many professors offer to the same).

This lead me to think that you should not go for cheap, cheesy gifts.

If he likes to drink, you could:

  • buy him a bottle of Scotch (it's a bit expensive, but it's nice and "formal")
  • find where in Italy he comes from and buy him a bottle of wine from his place. It maybe be difficult to find, but also cheaper than Scotch, and he would probably like the fact that you did a bit of research. It's a warmer gift, I think.

Both of these gifts would be convivial (Italians, as many others, tend to drink together), and that is part of the gift. I would not choose something for him to be consumed alone, and something that is not personal. He seems to like conviviality, so buy something with that in mind. A good book that you really liked and you think he could like too is also a nice idea.

  • 1
    I think a wine from where he is from is a bad idea. He will surely know better what the good stuff is, and how to get it (and you don't). People have done this for me, and while I appreciate it as a nice gesture, I would have preferred get to know something new. On the other hand, something from your country may be much more exciting.
    – Davidmh
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 13:12
  • Mmm, you have a point. I would underline the "personal" touch, then.
    – Aubrey
    Commented Jun 13, 2015 at 13:26

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