Put The Car Jacks Down: A Lesson In Office Gift Giving

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Finding the right holiday gift for co-workers and managers is hard work. It’s challenging enough to locate just the right purchase for our family and friends, people we know well and love. Now you have to buy something that strikes the perfect balance of not too cheap, nor too expensive; personal, but not creepy.

It doesn’t help that we’ve probably all been the recipient of a terrible holiday gift at work. I was once bestowed with an ashtray emblazoned with the immortal likeness of the country band Alabama. This would have worked out well had I been either a smoker or a fan of this act, neither of which was the case. We asked IAAP’s Facebook fans to describe some of the worst holiday gifts they’ve ever received. Let this be a cautionary tale as you head to the mall for some office gift buying:

  • A set of car jacks
  • A kitchen towel set
  • Lingerie
  • Dining table Christmas place mats
  • A copy of the Kama Sutra, a feather and body oil
  • Panty hose
  • A canister of antiseptic hand wipes
  • A packet of hot apple cider mix handed out by upper management
  • A $5 gift card to a pizza place
  • A cherry-tart candle given to someone who does not like cherries or tarts.
  • A giant candy cane that promptly got covered in ants.

There’s definitely some themes in this list. Don’t buy anything intimate. Ever. Plus, you’re better off skipping the gift if all you can afford is a $5 gift card. Go with a nice holiday card, instead. Finally, stay away from things like towel sets, candles and place mats, because people can be very particular about what they put in their own homes. Oh, and car jacks? No. Epic fail. You are a bad Santa.

Let’s end this on an up note by focusing on what you should buy. CNN Living has a helpful list of gift ideas for co-workers and supervisors. The list is a couple years old, so some of the specific items are no longer available. But it should give you a good idea of where to head. Stay classy and stick with things that everyone can use and enjoy and you’ll be in good shape during the office gift exchange this year.