Folks write meaningful thank-you notes or holiday wishes to friends and family regularly and with ease. But when it's time to send such heartfelt messages to your boss? Well, let's just agree that's a more nerve-racking matter. It's good to know that you don't have to lay awake all night contemplating each verb, noun and punctuation mark. Rather than worry that your words will be taken the wrong way, make you sound sappy or worse yet, like a suck-up, take a deep breath and gather your thoughts. Showing your higher-up your gratitude or wishing her a happy holiday is not quantum physics; it's simply about being on time, focused, appropriately personal and, of course, professional.

Write On Time

Just like being tardy for work doesn't go over well for employees, sending a late thank-you note or holiday greeting card to your boss – or anyone – is also taboo. If possible, give your boss a thank-you note no more than a business day or two after he gave you his guidance, invaluable advice, a bonus or other significant or generous offering. As for holiday cards, tuck in one for your boss and his family, and maybe for each of your favorite coworkers and their families, with your loved ones' cards and mail them all about two weeks before the big day.

Not-Too-Personal Holiday Wishes

Although holiday wishes should be heartfelt, don't see Christmas, for instance, as an opportunity to let down your guard and call your boss by her first name when you always address her as Ms. or Mrs. Address her as you always do and include her family in the holiday greeting. Although you might find a greeting card that comes with what seems like the perfect message, don't just sign your name and call it done – that would seem too impersonal and somewhat ungrateful. Great bosses deserve a bit more effort, right? Keep it simple. An appropriate handwritten holiday message might be: "This joyous holiday of giving and sharing is the ideal time to tell you that it's a pleasure to work with you. Wishing you a lovely Christmas and another successful, enjoyable year."

Focus on Thankfulness

When writing a thank-you message, try not to sound overly sentimental or inappropriately forward, which could be mistaken as a seductive come-on. But don't be too cold or stodgy either. Find a professional balance between the two personas. For example, if you're thanking your boss for being supportive and understanding about needing time off for a personal issue, you could simply write: "Thank you for your support and understanding. I feel lucky to work for such a caring employer. It's a relief to know that I don't have to worry about my job, while I sort through this challenging personal matter." It isn't necessary, or even advisable, to write a lengthy message in a thank-you note. Stay focused, get to the point, keep it short and be genuine.

Keep it Short and Personal

Although e-greetings are popular, they can seem somewhat impersonal, cheap or even lazy, especially to bosses who are advanced in years. If you have to hand your boss, say, a Christmas card in person, you might simply catch him alone at a holiday work party or just before the office closes for the break. Also offer a few words of holiday sentiment face-to-face. Just be natural and brief – and careful, if you drank a bit too much liquid courage at the holiday party. If a thank-you note seems a bit too over the top for a particular offering, it probably is. Sometimes, a smile, a handshake and a quick few words to express your gratitude are all that's expected.