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Santa In The Office

November 27 2008 - From plastic pizzas to cases of tuna, an amusing survey of marketing and advertising executives indicates a generous but 'innovative' attitude to gift-giving in the office during the festive season.

The telephone survey of 125 advertising executives and 125 senior marketing executives was conducted for The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals on a project and full-time basis by an independent research firm.

The executives were asked, "During the holiday season, which of the following types of gifts, if any, are typically given in your office?" They were allowed multiple responses. Overall the findings were:

Total citing any of the gifts below
Gifts from managers to staff members
Gifts from staff members to each other
Gifts to coworkers based on names dropped in a hat
Gifts from staff to their managers
None/no gifts are given

Megan Slabinski, executive director of The Creative Group commented:

"Given the current economy, office gift giving may be toned down this year, but there still will be those who want to spread holiday cheer by giving colleagues tokens of appreciation." She added: "Although presents don't have to be expensive, they do need to be thoughtful and appropriate to the work environment. A gift that works in one setting may not be well received in another."

The gifts given ranged from the questionable:

  • "Someone gave a coworker a voodoo doll of the boss. The boss found out and wasn't very happy about it."
  • "One employee liked to give out portraits of himself. I'm glad I never received one."
  • "A wrapped six-pack of beer. There was no time spent on selection or thought."
  • "I received the ugliest lamp. I packed it away and never looked at it again."

To the thoughtful:

  • "My favourite and most memorable gift was a membership to a local art gallery."
  • "Someone gave his coworker a ride on a parade float with Santa."
  • "Each employee received a bobblehead that was a replica of him- or herself."
  • "An employee made a photo collage of an art director's children."
  • "Someone received a customized Disney toy."
  • "My staff gave me 2 pounds of stone crab last year. They were delicious!"

The strange:

  • "Someone gave his assistant a case of tuna. It was really strange."
  • "A colleague gave me orange hair extensions. I wasn't sure what they were for."
  • "My staff gave me an industrial-size can of chicken loaf. I never ate it."
  • "A person gave a colleague a fully stocked 125-pound aquarium."
  • "One person received a plastic pizza with a face on it. She thought it was frightening."
  • "Someone gave an employee a box of meat."

Gifts that raised a laugh:

  • "Someone gave a coworker The Clapper - that device that turns things on when you clap. Everyone got a kick out of it."
  • "I got a punching bag that emits curses when you hit it. I enjoyed the gift."
  • "One year someone gave a coworker who was always getting speeding tickets a radar detector. The whole office found it funny."

And gifts that kept on giving:

  • "We gave a certificate to a charity in the person's name."
  • "We elect, as a staff, to distribute gifts to families that are needy."

Megan Slabinski feels that donating to a charity is a nice way to give back to the community:

"This year, especially, many nonprofits could use the help, whether it's a gift in an individual's name to a cause he or she believes in, or a group outing to provide assistance to those in need."

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