While Secret Santa gift exchanges can be a lot of fun – fostering friendships with coworkers and spreading joy around the workplace, giving the wrong gifts could turn the dream Christmas celebration into a nightmare.

If there isn’t a tradition of putting up a Christmas wishlist in your workplace, and you don’t know the person very well, FitSmallBusiness has put together a list of gifts to avoid getting for your colleagues.

12 worst office Secret Santa gifts

12. A live guinea pig
11. A ‘crime kit’
10. Nuts for a co-worker with a nut allergy
9. ‘Hilarious’ toilet paper
8. ‘Framed bacon’ for a vegetarian
7. Maternity underwear
6. A used candle
5. Some batteries
4. A heated bidet with a remote
3. ‘Bad luck Brian’ t-Shirt
2. Nothing (they forgot)
1. ‘How to bonk at work’ book

Michael De Medeiros, Special Projects Editor, FitSmallBusiness, said: “We’ve all seen the highs and lows of the office Secret Santa tradition. Some gifts are perfect for the occasion and others are absolute duds.”

“Either way, buying a gift for a familiar office friend or a coworker you barely know can be tricky. It was our goal to shine a light on the cautionary tales that, while humorous, can steer people away from making the same mistakes and keep their professional reputations intact.”

To avoid the pitfalls and still provide a memorable present, here are three basic rules to stick by as you do your last minute shopping for your co-workers.

#1 Avoid controversy
As we can see from the list, when you try to be edgy with the gifting, it’s a gamble. The types of presents to avoid would be those that might be offensive, dangerous, or just plain weird.

#2 Usefulness is a virtue
According to a 2016 study at Indiana University, gift-givers tend to choose presents that are fun but are not necessarily as useful as the recipients would like. Hence, when in doubt, a gift card or vouchers are the way to go.

#3 Thoughtfulness rules
It’s cliche, but it’s true – it is the thought that counts. According to an Instantprint Secret Santa poll, 94% of respondents claimed that gifts from their employers made them feel valued. HR expert Barry Ackerman notes: “We’re showing appreciation at the end of the year … so get something for someone to show you’re thinking about them.”

Photo / iStock

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This article was first published in Human Resources Online Bulletin and is reproduced with permission. Original article can be found at http://www.humanresourcesonline.net

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