31 of the most bizarre holiday gifts employees have ever received from a coworker


(Business Insider) 

We’ve given you some dos and don’ts for exchanging gifts at the office.

But if you’re still undecided on what you should get your coworkers this year, perhaps knowing what not to give is a good place to start.

According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, conducted online by Harris Poll among 3,300 employees and 2,379 HR professionals, about a fifth (22%) of employees say they plan to buy holiday gifts for coworkers, and 21% plan to buy a gift for their boss.

As a general rule, it’s the thought that counts when it comes to gift-giving, which means gifting something thoughtless doesn’t leave a very good impression. You’re better of avoiding gifts that are inappropriate, offensive, or that might leave your coworkers scratching their heads.

To help you avoid these gift-giving faux-pas, here are 31 gifts real employees have received from someone in the office during the holiday season, according to CareerBuilder, CooperKatz, and Business Insider survey respondents:

jpgThoughtless gifts

  • A bunch of stationery from the stationery cupboard
  • A broken ornament
  • Expired canned food
  • Too-small, company-branded apparel
  • A pad of paper

Second-hand gifts


  • A used Yankee candle
  • Used plaid tennis shoe
  • Old backpack full of old shoes
  • Piece of cake that was already being eaten at the party

Mean gifts


  • A bottle of axe and a card that said, “Take a shower.”
  • Lump of coal

DIY disasters

  • Handmade quilted chicken
  • Lampshade made out of egg cartons
  • Music CD of a coworker

Living things


  • Live fish
  • Live lizard

Unfunny joke gifts


  • Farting Santa
  • White elephant, literally
  • A pen holder that looks like a crime scene victim
  • Oversized pencil (1 1/2 inches in diameter, 12 inches in length)
  • A fake lottery ticket

Inappropriate gifts

  • Jewelry
  • Coconut bra
  • A whip


  • A book about using playing cards to predict the future
  • Rain stick
  • Shoe box with a ping pong ball inside
  • Two left-handed gloves
  • Meat injector
  • A real stuffed duck
  • A jar of gravy
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