Real-life Scrooges: The cheapest holiday gifts bosses have ever given their employees

office holiday gifts, party

When it comes to gift-giving, it’s the thought that counts. But things can get pretty awkward when gifts are downright thoughtless
Almost everyone has received a gift that was either unusual or lame, but FastUpFront, a small business news blog, has assembled a list of the cheapest or most insulting gifts that had employees wondering why their companies even bothered:

  • An employee received a gift certificate for a free medium soda or banana from the theme park where she worked. When she tried to purchase the banana, she was told the voucher did not include the tax, which she had to pay for out of pocket.
  • One employee got $100 in cash, which he assumed was a holiday bonus. After spending it on a family dinner out, he discovered it was not a bonus and had been deducted from his paycheck.
  • A boss took his employees out to a lunch and gifted them coffee mugs. When they got back from the lunch, bills for the meal and the mug were waiting for everyone at their desks.
  • Another boss took his workers out to a pricey restaurant and encouraged them to order expensive drinks and meals. At the end of the night, he requested separate checks for everyone.
  • One employee got the choice of a $5 bottle of wine or a plastic picture frame.

Honorable mentions

Here are some more cheap gifts from the list:

  • a dog leash
  • a copy of “The Little Engine That Could”
  • a grocery store gift card worth $7.58
  • a high five
  • an X-rated shot glass
  • a Mars Bar
  • microwave popcorn and sparkling cider
  • a $5 iTunes gift card
  • a pen that didn’t work, and
  • a Taco Bell watch.


Rachel Mucha
Rachel writes about Human Resource management and has been a member of the HRMorning staff since 2017. She is a graduate of Ithaca College. Email: