What Are the Worst Presents You’ve Received from a Boss or Co-Worker?

Have you received a holiday present, only to find out that the cost was deducted from your paycheck?

Or, been given a framed picture of the boss?

What’s the worst present you’ve gotten from your boss or co-worker over the year?  Or have you been pressured into giving a present to a supervisor only to receive nothing in return?

Tell me your story!

I’ve never gotten anything “bad” but as a Mormon, I don’t drink. One year, when I was very pregnant, I received a bottle of champagne. A lovely gift, but hint, don’t buy alcohol for the pregnant Mormon in your office.

(I will say, in defense of the gift giver, I had never discussed my religion with him, and he probably just thought I was fat. He was truly a lovely person, and I found it hilarious.)

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31 thoughts on “What Are the Worst Presents You’ve Received from a Boss or Co-Worker?

  1. At my last company, I worked my butt off getting our company move orchestrated in a very short period of time. It went off without a hitch. I was not expecting any sort of gift, but my boss sat me down and said he appreciated all the hard work I had done and that he wanted to thank me by giving me a Starbucks gift card. I was very surprised and thankful…until I went to Starbucks and found out the gift card had $5 on it. I thought it was odd he went through all this song and dance to give me $5. I found out later from a coworker that he was given that gift card for free by our coffee vendor.

  2. I used to work for a company that have mandatory Christmas dinner that we have to pay from our money. For juniors with low paycheck it was expensive and quite awkward. And if that wasn’t enough bosses get drunk and thought that that night they could hit on the few women there. I would have paid not to be there.

  3. I got a small generic cheese basket from the general store. The thought was nice but I can’t believe anyone really eats that stuff.

  4. Well to be fair, Suzanne, isn’t the etiquette default to not assume someone is pregnant unless they’re actually giving birth? 😉

    I can’t think of anything really bad. Once an employer gave out gift cards to Bass Pro, a huge camping and outdoor store. The value of the cards was about $25. Everything in it is very expensive, so that was about enough for a couple of pairs of socks. 😛

    We also used to get a certificate for a turkey at Thanksgiving. I live alone and am not fond of turkey. I would always give mine to a coworker who usually hosted a very large group of people for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a nice gesture but pretty useless to me, LOL.

    1. I got a FitBit once. I have an arthritis condition that keeps me from doing most exercises. (In fairness, everyone in the office got one. Mind is still sitting on my desk, unopened.)

      1. I have a friend who got a Fitbit to track her sleeping. If you’re interested in that, you may get some use out of it yet.

    2. We acquired a company that gave out turkeys every year. One of the facilities was in the Bronx and everyone commuted on mass transit, there was also a large immigrant population that didn’t necessarily have the same traditions. I converted those costs to purchase Butterball gift checks – they can be used at any grocery store for any type of product (excluding tobacco and alcohol) – so you could use it for dessert, vegetables, paper goods or whatever you wanted (or asked to bring to your Thanksgiving dinner).

  5. Our office changed management. The prior manager had given us nice shirts from Lands End or $30 Amazon gift certificates. The first year, the new management gave us small bags of mixed beans, with a bean soup recipe attached; I believe they retail for 99 cents. We all thought that was ludicrous, until the next year — and all that followed — when we got nothing, not even a card, email or oral holiday sentiment. Another manager gave us small gold coins, then reported the value to IRS, so we had to pay taxes on gifts that few — other than coin collectors — really appreciated. One year, a couple of Jewish employees in our office received Santa Claus figurines. They were good sports about it, and laughed at the sheer cluelessness of it all.

  6. I had previously worked in corporate for a regional convenience store chain – they would always give out a nice coupon book around the holidays that would entitle us to free milk, egg nog, ice cream, half and half, and various other amenities. People always found a reason to complain (“No cash?!”) but I was always happy to receive it.

    Ironically, I’ve worked for a small, successful IT analyst firm for the last 5 years. Although they are much more profitable (in percentages) than my previous job I have never received as much as a bonus, gift, card, or even thank you. Luckily I’m on my way out and have had good interviews elsewhere 🙂

  7. I work somewhere where it is not standard to get anything at Christmas. It seems odds to me that someone would complain even about a $5 coffee card.

    However, one year my boss wanted to get all of her employees coffee mugs that said inspirational messages, (think “Teamwork makes the dream work” type). They came from her own pocket, and though not thrilled, I appreciated the thought. Then she said… “Oh these mugs actually came out as a little more expensive than I thought, could everyone chip in $5 for your mug?”

    Actually hilarious in hindsight. Funny story, but I am not complaining about it.

  8. We received gift cards to a grocery store for an odd amount (think $7.67) which we then had to sign for (so heavens forfend we actually end up with two) and they added the value onto our paychecks as taxable income.

  9. I and my co-workers received a Best Buy gift certificate from our boss, one year. Every one else’s was worth $25. Mine turned out to have $0.07 on it. I don’t think it was intentional, but it wound up being pretty symbolic of my relationship with that particular manager.

  10. I have worked in government since I got out of high school. So I’ve never gotten anything. Not even a rock.

    1. Hey, government employment doesn’t preclude holiday gifts. I’ve worked for government entities for roughly half of my 55-year working life, and have noticed little difference between the public and private sectors when it comes to holiday gift-giving. It’s the specific management in place at the time that makes the biggest difference.

      1. Must be a different government than mine. If work paid for a Xmas gift for me, I would think to myself, “this is poor stewardship of taxpayer funds.”

        It has never happened though.

      2. I’ve also gotten gifts from supervisors for holidays while working in government. It’s all from the supervisor’s pocket.

  11. I worked at a place where the owner was uber religious and gave everyone bibles. Not my thing, but if it was nice I would have kept it in the house for traditions sake. Unfortunately, they were very cheap copies. I just left mine in my desk when I left the job- kinda like a hotel room bible.

  12. I got my present after Christmas, in January, “now that we’re past the holiday rush” I was told. What he really meant was he forgot about my gift and sent his wife shopping and she reluctantly went to the 80%-off after-Christmas sales and put together a gift basket. I received a pin with five dangly bits, three of which were missing, a terry cloth towel with a huge clump of the loops ripped out, a decorative Santa wall hanging with one eyeball popped off, a potholder with the hanging loop clearly ripped, a bottle of purfume with 1/2 the liquid & the cap gone, and a pad of stationary where the top third had clearly ripped off.

    This employer was a friend of my family and his wife referred to me as “just like a daughter.” So I felt twice-insulted.

    1. Sometimes not receiving any gift at all is better than getting a terrible — insulting — one.

  13. I received a pretty basket with a few heavily perfumed items, like hand lotion and soap. My boss and I had discussed a number of times that I have bad allergic reactions to fragrances. The funny thing is, she has the same problem!!!

  14. Some pretty hilarious gifts listed in the comments. I have more of a Scrooge?Mr. Grinch attitude towards the coming holidays, so my comment involves having to pitch in towards the mandatory holiday party with a dish but not being able to enjoy anything because someone had to stay to take care of customers. (It was a retail setting and we had a potluck spread setup–I had to make with the deli manager the sandwiches and make a shrimp tray from my seafood department). Everyone pigged out and left the mess for us to cleanup. So Bah Humbug!

    1. When we would have out of office parties at an old job, we would hire a temp so the receptionist could come as well.

      The funding for the quarterly offsite events, all birthday cakes, and all anniversary cakes didn’t come from the company, though. We three sales reps gave 3% of our bonus checks to pay for these events.

  15. A small company, my boss gave each employee a piece of costume jewlery that she no longer wanted. Pre-owned, pre-worn.

  16. A few yars ago at a company sponsored event where we were given a nice lunch, there was a gift swap afterwards where the company very nicely got a bunch of different valued presents, from $50 items down to worthless gag gifts. They were in all different sized boxes so large gifts were not necessarily indicative of a higher value. All was good and truly wonderful…except that an accountant stood by the gift table recording the code number from the bottom of each gift and matching it to an employee. The next paycheck listed our unearned gift income and had the appropriate taxes withheld.

  17. We were given iTunes gift cards by our manager. When we tried to use them, it was impossible because they were only valid in a different country.
    We later found out he got the iTunes cards for free from our marketing department, located in that country… and they were supposed to go to local employees only.

  18. The boss was known for his frequent rages, which usually involved throwing whatever was handy. We all stood around his doorway as he opened his gift, a large and probably heavy glass ashtray. A collective gasp arose as a mental image of being clocked in the head by that thing came immediately to many of our minds. Merry Christmas to all!

  19. Do gifts from vendors count? We sell air fresheners from a particular company. Many years ago, they used to send us a little miniature Christmas tree made out of a branch of a pine tree, sprayed with one of their scents. It was a nice gesture, and freshened up the office a bit. Until the year it didn’t.

    It was a new scent, not even for sale yet, and they used *way* too much of it. And it smelled, in all seriousness, like armpit. The Armpit Tree. And it clung to everything. The thing was in the office for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, but the stench hung on for a couple of hours.

    (One of my coworkers, with a particularly wicked sense of humor, rescued it from the trash and used it for the (white elephant) gift exchange.)

    Our vendor rep was told if they ever sent us another tree, we would hunt them down. And we sell power tools.

  20. We have regular employee appreciation days…our employer organizes potlucks for the celebration (we bring the food), and also asks us to bring a donation (sometimes multiple donations) for a charity. Last week we had a Thanksgiving potluck and they asked us to bring frozen turkeys to be donated. I don’t actually end up feeling very appreciated.

  21. We get amazing gifts at my company – there are approx 220 employees but only 7 of us work in the office. The office manager’s wife takes a lot of time making great gift baskets. We always get candy, homemade elaborately decorated sugar cookies, seasonal hand towels, pad of paper, nuts, and a $75 gift card. The vice president usually gifts us a $25 gas gift card, and the President gifts us random things. One year is was an expensive scarf, one year a nice blanket. And the company gives all employees a $100 gift card to a local supermarket and another gift valued between $30-$50. We feel really lucky and fortunate.

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