The dos and don'ts of holiday gifting at work

How not to give your colleagues a gift they will hate.

If you like your work colleagues and you don't want to get them a holiday gift that they'll hate, you'll want to take a look at the worst corporate gift list compiled by the employee reward program Snappy.

The survey interviewed over 1,000 Americans to find out which gifts they liked and which gifts they would prefer to pass on. And it turns out that 84 percent of employees said they received a gift they didn't want from their company.

Moreover, nearly 90 percent admitted to feigning gratefulness when receiving a gift they disliked.


Despite the majority of employees feeling dissatisfied with corporate holiday gifts, four out of five said receiving one made them feel appreciated and motivated to do more by their employer. Likewise, nearly three-fourths reported that the gifts they received would be better if it wasn't embellished with a company logo.

Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, founder and president of The Etiquette School of New York, disagreed with employees' disdain for company-branded gifts.

"If people work for a company, they should be proud of it or don't work there," she told FOX Business. "If your personal brand doesn't match the corporate brand, maybe you don't belong there."

She also noted that companies often choose to give their employees branded products because it is a simpler and safer option that treats everyone equally and minimizes the complications or hurt feelings that come with individualized gifting.

Many of Snappy's surveyed employees said they dislike receiving a gift with no personal significance, including office supplies and gift cards.

In fact, the surveyed employees reported not having a fondness for gift cards – 79 percent said they were less meaningful than a physical gift while 86 percent admitted they either lost or forgot about the gift cards they received.


Lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann shared with FOX Business that although employees may want more personalized gifts, it is generally not recommended for the workplace. Items that should be avoided include perfumes, lotions, soaps, jewelry and event swag.

Ideal gifts would be items that are carried around often.

"Outwear is acceptable at work, for example, gloves or scarves or hats, that sort of thing," she said. "Also, any type of gadget or accessory that's great for work such as a portable phone charger."

According to Snappy's findings, employees prefer to have a hand in the corporate holiday gift-giving process.


Technology was reported as a category that workers had a high interest in. Around one in three said they would like to receive a tech gadget as a gift, such as a mobile smart device, Bluetooth speaker or television.

If gifting tech isn't your style, Swann said the best gift to give is the gift of cash.

"And that's completely across generations, including Millennials and Gen Z. If people are going to pick anything, they're going to pick money," she noted.

Alternatively, organizing a Secret Santa event in the workplace is one covert way to make preferences known.

Snappy's survey broke down 25 holiday gifts that employees reported being the "worst." Taking a look at the top of the list, it seems that workers don't want their companies to worry about their hydration, so coffee mugs and water bottles should be left out. Others complained about unwanted apparel items like fanny packs and socks.


25 of the worst holiday gifts employees said they received

1. Mug

2. Gift card to a store I've never been to

3. Water bottle

4. Company logo junk

5. Fanny pack

6. Socks

7. Melted chocolate coins

8. Pin

9. Tourniquet

10. Calendar

11. Book on how to do a better job

12. Magnet

13. Turkey

14. Quart of milk

15. Post-It Note

16. Plaque

17. Pink slip

18. Nothing at all

19. Towel

20. Lanyard

21. Old stale cookies

22. Toy horse

23. Deli meat

24. Made us pay to go to a ‘mandatory’ Christmas party

25. Canceled PTO

In reference to the above-mentioned gifts, Napier-Fitzpatrick remarked that many of them sound like gag gifts.

"Not everybody has a sense of humor, and certainly they'll think, 'Is this what they thought of me?' And no more than that," she warned.

However, if a person doesn't receive a gag gift during the holiday season, Napier-Fitzpatrick recommends receivers to be appreciative.


Both experts agreed that bosses tend to get overlooked during the holidays and that gifting a superior could be a complicated process. To avoid looking like a kiss-up, it is recommended to wrangle in fellow colleagues to chip in for a group gift.

Additionally, holiday gifting should be done in private to prevent any hurt feelings from onlookers.