The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Office Gift Giving

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From worthless gadgets to re-gifted food- it seems everyone has had a bad present story. Yeah, yeah I know- when it comes to receiving gifts, it’s the thought that counts right? But sometimes you have to wonder, what were they thinking?

As much as we hate to admit it, I am sure we are all probably guilty of giving a terrible holiday gift a time or two. With Secret Santa-ing and White Elephant gift exchanges in full swing, don’t be the Grinch that ruined the holidays by giving yet another terribly awful gift.

So what are the gifts to consider and what are the ones that should never, EVER be gifted in the office?


When gift-giving this holiday season, whether to a co-worker or your boss, make thoughtful choices about what gifts you decide to get. Show that you know something more about the person and not just that they’re the person next to you in an office or cubicle. Sticking to people's hobbies or favorite activities is always a safe bet.


By no means should you give random items you don’t want anymore, stuff you got for free or re-gift something you got from your Secret Santa last year. Chances are that if you don’t like that free key chain sitting on your desk or hideous sweater you got last year, your co-workers won’t either. Putting in some effort when searching for gifts won’t kill you.


Unless the theme for the gift exchange is silly gifts, gag gifts and other inappropriate or risqué gifts should never be gifted. That means no lingerie, no perfume, nothing sexual and certainly no IOU’s. Yes, there are a lot of fun gifts that are acceptable to purchase for your co-workers and your boss. However, these gifts should stay on the naughty list.

When asked to share their most memorable (memorable in a bad way) gifts, some of the HMA team said:

A certificate for a Honey Baked ham”- Abbie

Starbucks gift card back in 2004 – back when I hated even the smell of coffee.”- Alison

A Chia pet”- Katie

I once received a used potpourri set as a White Elephant gift.”- Rachel


What are some of your most “memorable” gifts?

Katie Snyder
Katie Snyder
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

1 Comment

  1. Scott Hanson says:

    I am such a non-shopper that I’m always fearful that I will be the one who gives “that” gift.

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