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

Federico Rostagno/ShutterstockMaybe just stick to homemade cookies or a really nice pen.

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 3,907 employees and 2,257 HR professionals, about a fifth (22%) of employees say they plan to buy holiday gifts for coworkers, and 22% 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 off 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 34 gifts real employees have received from someone in the office during the holiday season, according to CareerBuilder, CooperKatz, and Business Insider survey respondents:

Thoughtless gifts

• A bunch of stationery from the stationery cupboard

• A broken ornament

• Expired canned food

• Too-small, company-branded apparel

• A pad of paper

• Saran wrap

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

Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider

• Jewellery

• 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

• A jar of glitter

• Chicken earrings

Jacquelyn Smith contributed to an earlier version of this article.

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