What Was Your Best Office Christmas/Year-End/Holiday Present?

by Evil HR Lady on September 25, 2019

It’s the time of year where managers start to think about Holiday/Year-end presents for their staffs.

I want to put together a list of presents that people actually liked! It’s okay if they are contradictory.

What is the best (or are the best if you have several) presents you’ve received at work?

Best one I ever received was a shopping day–we all got an extra day off in December. Yay!

Leave your answer in the comments!

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie September 25, 2019 at 3:47 pm

Love this post! I’m always looking for great ideas. One of my favorite was a Target gift card that said “Thanks for helping to keep us on TARGET all year!” I also did a stemless wine glass with the employee’s first initial script painted on it and filled it with candy. Another good one is a local nail salon gift card with a small hand lotion that said “You deserve a HAND for all you’ve done this year!”

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Davi Adams September 25, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Last year the Owner gave us all handwritten notes inside of a book about generosity and $500. It was a very generous and unexpected gift, but the note that said what he appreciated about me and the work I do for our company was what I loved the most, and the thought of him doing this for all of his staff was very touching.

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Dorothy September 25, 2019 at 4:05 pm

On the theory that everyone gets too many tchotchkes at Holiday time, I used to take my team out to dinner or lunch.

When it was lunch, it was just us and I pre-ordered at a good, family style Italian restaurant. When it was dinner I took team members and their spouses out to the best steakhouse in Houston. Frankly, it cost more than the tchotchkes would have, by a long shot; the money came from my picket, not from corporate coffers. But it was so enjoyable to relax away from the plant, and enjoy one another’s company.

Incidentally, I usually scheduled our meal out for the week between Christmas and New Year. It was less busy for us, and easier to get a restaurant reservation.

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Analyst Robot September 25, 2019 at 4:10 pm

We were surprised with a week off (paid) between X-Mas and New Years. They told us at the staff meeting a few days before so it really was a surprise.
But some people complained, so the CEO vowed to never give us surprise days off again. Let me say that again…people complained about free PTO! And they complained so much that it got back to the CEO.
So let that be a lesson, no matter what the gift is, be gracious or you may never get another gift.

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Hap September 25, 2019 at 5:37 pm

Who the heck complains about PAID PTO!?? No seriously, what did they actually complain about?

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Analyst Robot September 25, 2019 at 5:57 pm

They complained that since the PTO was a surprise, they didn’t have time to plan big events or trips for the time off. I get that, but I wouldn’t complain about it. It’s still free time away from work.

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Betsy September 25, 2019 at 6:44 pm

UGH. I’m so over entitled, ungrateful people. The proper response to a gift is thank you, not why isn’t this more and better?

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Pickles September 30, 2019 at 11:27 am

It’s a great problem to have, but without being able to plan, that would put my use or lose leave in jeopardy of being taken away. (By which I mean definitely losing it.)

I get yelled at for having use or lose that’s not used by the end of the year. So does my supervisor.

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Dawn September 25, 2019 at 4:12 pm

Our company usually gives us an extra day or two off around the Christmas and New Years and closes at 2 on the week between these holidays. I really appreciate it!

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GreenDoor September 25, 2019 at 4:13 pm

My first job ever. I got a crisp $100 bill from the bank I worked at. I was a high-school intern making $5.75/hour (just $0.50 over minimum wage at the time). That $100 felt like a million bucks to 17-year old me.

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Elizabeth West September 25, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Nothing.

My last job gave us $50 Visa gift cards for Administrative Professional’s Day (yeah, I know, but I wasn’t going to turn that down). But I’ve never gotten anything for Christmas that was worth a dang.

What I want is a great salary, excellent bennies, and to be treated like an adult who can manage her own time, all year long. That’s the best thing an employer can give me. Do that and I’ll work my butt off for you.

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Megan Kichler September 25, 2019 at 4:56 pm

We always have a dirty Santa game for the HR department. I was super broke one year and bought a couple of $5 games. These games were fought over by 60+ HR professionals. What were the games? Toilet Basketball and Toilet Golf!

As for the best gift I ever got? I try to pick up the gift that no one seems to want and go and thank the person that got it. It always makes me sad to see someone spurned because they perhaps couldn’t afford something nicer. That relieved smile and happiness on their face is the best.

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Camellia September 25, 2019 at 7:26 pm

That is so kind of you!

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Frances September 25, 2019 at 6:27 pm

One year, we got a nice fleece blanket that I use all the time. This was paid for by the company. Another year, we each got $50 gift cards to Wegmans. This was paid out of pocket by our supervisor. Both were useful. The second was super generous since it was personal though I felt bad for our boss for feeling like she had to do this.

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carolynne September 25, 2019 at 6:31 pm

It happened in the 90’s so most likely I’ll never see anything similar again, but the company rented a hall and had a semi formal dinner and dancing evening. At the end they raffled off a bunch of prizes, I won a handpainted chair which was worth, at the time, $600. I loved it. I really felt like the company was pleased with us and showing their appreciation.

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jB September 25, 2019 at 6:37 pm

Give me money or a day off.

I suppose a holiday party during office hours is ok, but the worst possible “gift” is some holiday party on a Friday or Saturday night. That’s like torture.

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LaraW September 26, 2019 at 6:08 pm

I think it depends on the party. My husband works for a company with probably 175 employees and they always throw a huge holiday party that is super fun and we always look forward to it. Other companies he has worked for have taken the company and spouses out for dinner at a fancy restaurant. Those were fun as well.

I once was in charge of throwing a holiday party and we did the Friday night dinner/DJ/prizes etc and it was extremely well received.

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Texan In Exile September 27, 2019 at 3:06 am

I really like the people I work with, but I still don’t want to spend my free time with them.

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Just Me September 27, 2019 at 4:23 pm

As long as it’s 100% optional, that’s great because I wouldn’t have to go but I know that a lot of people would really enjoy it!

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grannybunny September 25, 2019 at 6:39 pm

Disclaimer: I work for the Federal Government, where gift-giving is discouraged and highly-regulated. The best work gift I ever got was when our boss allowed all 85 of us to order whatever we wanted — up to $30.00 in value — from Amazon. The worst gift was a few years later — same office, different boss — when we were given little plastic bags containing dried beans and seasonings, with a recipe attached for Bean Soup (which probably cost $1.00 total each, if that much). It would have been much better for them to totally forego gifts that year, than to give out ones widely-viewed as laughable and insulting. Quite a few of those bean bags ended up — very visibly — discarded in the office’s wastebaskets. I threw mine into the cooking pot with my New Year’s Day black-eyed peas.

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MariaRose September 25, 2019 at 10:01 pm

Because you had different bosses, but both from the same job, perhaps the second boss didn’t have the cash to spend for a better gift or chose to spend the money allocated to the department, in a cheaper way. The only holiday ‘gifts”, I have seen bosses give employees is something brought with company money, pre-allocated some people are more creative in their spending than others. Nowadays most companies only gift corporate employees at holidays, not regular Joes.

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Tori September 25, 2019 at 7:14 pm

Every year my company does an evening holiday dinner party for all employees and a plus one. They do it in November to avoid most of the holiday craziness, which I actually appreciate. It’s a nice event and they usually give a gift at the end of the night. Last year they gave each employee a gift basket with several different items like a bluetooth speaker, a nice backpack, a portable charger, cool socks, a leather notebook, etc. The year before, they gave us each an iPad mini. I’ve enjoyed every gift I’ve gotten from these parties!

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Mr. Cajun2core September 25, 2019 at 7:28 pm

Gift cards. However, do ask where people like to shop. There is not a Target within miles of my house but a co-worker gave me one. I did enjoy the ones that were from my favorite restaurant (Newks) or from my favorite grocery store (Publix).

You can get just a generic Master Card gift card I believe.

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Beth September 25, 2019 at 7:56 pm

Last year we gave all our employees a Yeti Tumbler with the Company’s 25th-year-anniversary logo on it. They were a huge hit and the only thing I regret is that I didn’t get their names added to the tumbler because so many of us use it at the office!

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Kate September 26, 2019 at 12:20 am

We did this last year and got peoples names on them. We had complaints that they didn’t need coffee cups. Can’t win them all.

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Jim Grey September 26, 2019 at 1:05 pm

One place I worked loved to give stuff with their logo plastered on it, and most of it was cheeeeeeap and I didn’t keep it for long. But one Christmas they issued everybody (all 2,000 of us) these folding, wheeled drink cooler thingies, with a long folding handle. You could fill it with ice and drinks and drag it behind you like luggage, and when you weren’t using it, it collapsed neatly for easy storage. That was in something like 2005 and I used it regularly until two years ago when it finally pooped out.

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Noemie September 26, 2019 at 1:30 pm

We used to get a master voucher which you could then exchange for the voucher(s) of your choice. The range of choices was huge so everyone was happy.

I know one employee who was struggling financially who traded the master voucher for 2 toy store vouchers. Without the master voucher they would have really struggled to afford Christmas presents for their kids.

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Mr. Cajun2core September 27, 2019 at 4:44 pm

That is smart!

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AZ September 26, 2019 at 3:24 pm

The years that were truly big hits were the ones where we got a choice and there something useful OR no physical gift to take home. There’s so much crap given around the holidays!
– My team travels A LOT. One year we got a choice between a book bag that is laptop/electronics friend (heavy-duty-travel worthy) or a messenger bag. 5 years later and many of us still use them.
– Again, CHOICE is key: Company work shirts (polos with logos) that we could choose the size and color or a high end electronics organizer thinger (technical term).
– And in my book, good chocolate is always welcome 🙂
– One year, we had a supervisor who threw a root beer tasting party in January. It was good, clean fun. He didn’t tell us which root beer was which, so it was a blind rating kind of thing. At the end he revealed which brands were best liked and so forth. The best part was that it was in January… a dreary time of year. He told us all in December it was coming, and he didn’t want to soak up any of precious holiday time. The level of thoughtfulness was mind blowing. The party was like 3 hours with food and the tasting. No awkward alcohol or “should I stay too late” kind of stuff. I think good, clean fun in January sounds pretty good to me!

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Emma September 26, 2019 at 5:15 pm

I got a brand new iPad from my office once!

Of course, it was followed by a notice that we’d been acquired by a new company.

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Texan In Exile September 27, 2019 at 3:09 am

Yeah, there’s nothing like being acquired, getting a new CEO, then getting another CEO, then getting moved to a new group with a new VP who changes the org chart to have you report to the person you helped hire for your team 18 months ago.

It stings.

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Texan In Exile September 27, 2019 at 3:11 am

I’m with Elizabeth. Just some respect, please. (Although yes I know it could be far far worse. I am still processing and reeling.)

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SNE September 26, 2019 at 8:00 pm

We too are treated to a beautiful, nice dinner (+1) every Dec. by the President of our company.
However, my favorite was the 2018 Secret Santa gift exchange we do among staff (only 9 of us). My co-worker had gone into my FB page to pull favorite photos of mine – family & best friends – and then made a mug (for the coffee I drink daily). She put time, effort, & thought into this. Simple. But every day I use this, I smile, and am reminded of those most special to me and why I also work every day (hubby & kids).

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Beleaguered Paralegal September 26, 2019 at 10:56 pm

What Elizabeth West said! I’m not a child and don’t need parties, games, or tchotchkes from my boss. And that stuff rings especially hollow when I’ve been treated shabbily all year long. Just being treated like an adult professional would be such a breath of fresh air, I wouldn’t ask for more.

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Just Me September 27, 2019 at 4:28 pm

One year the departing VP in charge of ordering the Christmas gifts decided instead of popcorn, nuts, or stuff like that to order a box of steaks, potatoes, and a dessert from Omaha Steak. It was delicious! The vegetarians weren’t happy and neither was the CFO as it blew the budget, but my family was. 🙂

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