SURVEY SAYS: Most Unusual Christmas Gifts

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers what was the most unusual holiday gift they’ve received from a co-worker or employer.

A potholder, used items, and someone’s own hair band were some of the items reported on a very interesting list.  

The list includes: 

  • a pot holder 
  • A used Bible 
  • a scented candle (I’m a guy)from “secret santa”, which is why I no longer participate in such foolishness. 
  • A pair of flowered socks. 
  • A cheap Christmas ornament in a bag wrapped in toilet paper instead of tissue paper. 
  • A bar of soap that smelled like coffee… 
  • A “Bed Buddy” neck warmer. I’m not sure why… 
  • A used knife sharpener! 
  • Lotto ticket 
  • A dried sea creature (baby ray, if I recall) (White elephant gift exchange) 
  • a handmade brooch with a baby attached at the center 
  • home made booze 
  • I received a 3ft tall tree decorated with all pink and white ornaments, all hand painted. Weird, but AWESOME!!! I was sad I couldn’t afford a tree that year. 
  • A clown doll. That was just weird. 
  • Lottery tickets 
  • A hair band I had left on my desk:) 
  • A used jewelry box from a yard sale. 
  • A nine inch long red pen that allows me to write in four different colors. 
  • Fake vomit 
  • A dozen homemade tamales from a co-worker from El Salvador. 
  • jumper cables for my car 
  • Nothing strange or unusual 
  • A tie with Christmas trees and Santa Claus on it. (I’m Jewish.) 
  • coaster 
  • a weird necklace of a hand that had bells at the end of fingers 
  • A former boss once brought Christmas cookies to share for Valerntine’s Day. 
  • a batman night light 
  • Nothing worth remembering. 
  • None 
  • Ear Muffs 
  • wooden wall sconces from the Dollar Store 
  • ice cream 
  • At my first job we got an actual frozen turkey. I was young and single and had no idea what to do with it, so I took it home to my mother. 
  • Koosh Balls (small soft balls with plastic fuzzies) 




When I started, we began an era that required each gift to be "clean" and non-offensive. Everyone is much happier. 


Favorite seems to be neutral gift cards for department store or Starbucks/Panera - nothing personal 


I no longer give them , see answer #1 . 


In my current job, we've agreed to forgo gift giving. I told my boss I don't give gifts to everyone in my family to save money, so I felt guilty buying for him. He understood completely and we're all happy. 


The bosses I work for are the type that throw nickels around like manhole covers... 


We are a mixed group of employees, many of whom do not celebrate Christmas, so there isn't much gift exchanging between employees. 


They are always a confirmation that I've kept my personal life private. Based on the gifts I get, these people don't know me. At. All. 


While well intended, this is fraught with all sorts of problems. Verbal and/or written happy and merry wishes are the best and safest way to go. 


I don't really like this practice because it can be competitive and expensive. Secret Santa is better, with a reasonable limit. 


I try to find hand-crafted gifts from local artisans that fit my impression of the individual's style to make it a personal gift. I give away all the Costco and Hickory Farm food baskets I receive to the local assisted living center. 


I like it best when someone organizes an optional grab bag. It takes the pressure off, makes it clear who's participating and lets you buy just one gift. 


It's a practice that I don't like to start or partake in (unless it's food). It's added stress I don't need. 


From the Dean of a State University School of Nursing. She was notorious for stopping at yard sales on the way too and from meetings off campus no matter if she was alone or with someone. 


I work in a very close 4-person department that provides document services for 401(k) plans. As part of each of our jobs we quality check each other's work. On one occasion, an obvious provision was missed on a document I was checking so, just for fun, I circled the error several times and put arrows with stars pointing at it from all directions with a note that it needed to be fixed. Needless to say, there was a lot of red ink on the page when I handed it back to the person who did it. The next week I received the giant pen from another member of the team who thought of me when she saw it while she was out shopping. Now I can use either black, blue, green, or red ink while checking working based on how big a mistake is. Cheap entertainment for all involved. 


Our team sits close to another team whereby those team members are always bragging about their work and accomplishments or complimenting their boss so regularly, we would often say how it makes us want to vomit. So, one of our team members got us all a joke store fake vomit that we now toss onto our desks when we start to hear the other team go on one of their "we're awesome" tirades. 


It was many years ago, and was not an established tradition (at least in my family) at the time. I enjoyed them so much that I continued it as a tradition each year around Christmas. 

Verbatims (cont.) 


Not that jumper cables are a bad thing to have, one just does not expect them as a holiday gift from a co-worker. From my Dad, yes; co-worker, no. 


A gift exchange is okay if its for small gifts, but I don't need the financial pressure of buying a bigger gift for someone I barely know and never hang out with. 


My boss handed me and my 2 co-workers each a $1.00 scratch-off lottery ticket. He did this quite a flourish, undoubtedly impressed by his own magnanimity. 


My office does what is euphemisically called a Chinese or Yankee auction, where gifts can be "stolen" from each other. Yep, that's really in line with the holiday spirit, so I don't participate. 


One year our boss gave his entire staff crisp $100 bills. It was a nice unexpected surprise! 


It was part of a holiday secret santa. 


Times are tough and I'd rather not exchange gifts when employees are struggling to cover their personal expenses. 


We get a nice grocery gift certificate to go purchase a turkey with. I usually use mine to purchase all my holiday baking supplies with. I love it as it takes the edge off all the increase holdiay grocery demands. 


One boss I had regifted the big can of peanuts he'd gotten. How did we know? When we opened the can, there was a note of thanks addressed to the boss inside.
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