It’s the most wonderful time of the year in the corporate world: the time when you use all your PTO traveling to see family you barely like and your employers show you just how little you actually mean to them with their “generous” display of holiday gifts. Don’t get me wrong, some employers know how much of a sacrifice it is just to show up every day and thankfully choose to reward you accordingly. Some employers know they’re over their yearly budget so they thoughtfully hand you a pen with your company’s logo and a coupon for 15 percent off at the café in the building where the most edible item is already pre-packaged and frozen. It’s a hit or miss situation, but for most of us, the struggle to act surprised and thankful when you receive your holiday gift is all too real.
From least impressive to most likely to make you stay at your job another year, here is the official power ranking of what you could see in your office mailbox this month.
8. Anything With Your Company’s Name On It
Sometime, somewhere, some boss sat down and thought to himself, “How can I remind my employees that even in this time of thanksgiving and celebration that their souls still belong to me?” And thus the corporate logo holiday gift was born. Whether it’s a pen, a sweatshirt, a baseball cap, Tupperware, a lunch bag, or a coffee mug, this item is rendered completely useless by the giant and blatant corporate logo emblazoned across it. Each time you pick up this useless item, you will be reminded of the place that sucks the life out of you 40 hours a week, and even the coffee and Bailey’s you put in that thermos won’t help you bounce back from that. The sole exception here, of course, is the robes all the employees received at Dunder Mifflin a few years ago. I would love to snuggle up in one of those things and at least pretend that my job fills me with a cozy, snuggly warmth like that robe supplies.
My corporate holiday gift this year was a box of four chocolates that looks like it was purchased 75 percent off at Walgreens after Valentine’s Day and kept in a storage closet for the next 10 months. After examining the consistency of these chocolates (attacking them with a knife, throwing them against a wall, breaking a tooth on them) my suspicions were confirmed. “Oh well, it’s a free snack,” I thought as I ate one anyway. Within seconds, I got instant diabetes and almost keeled over on the spot. For the love of God, if your package has a nutrition facts label on it, don’t even bother looking at it. Nothing good will come from this. At least mine came with a coupon for a free coffee at the office park’s café…not that I’ll ever get to work early enough to use it.
Candles: the gift that says, “I had no fucking idea what to get you.” Since you probably hide as much of your personal life as possible from your employers anyway, there’s a pretty strong chance you’ll find one of these bad boys on your desk in the next two weeks. “What? I actually really like having candles in the house,” says the lame individual (read: me). No, no. These aren’t those kind of candles. You will be hard-pressed to find that coveted Yankee Candle label on one of these corporate gifts. More than likely, this was part of a two for $10 promotion at Bath & Body Works. Oh well, at least you can actually regift this one to your weird great aunt who you never know what to get.
5. Gift Baskets
In theory, a gift basket seems like a good idea. It’s a gift with ten mini-gifts! Gifts inside of gifts! Gifts galore! The problem with these, of course, is that the likelihood of you actually liking anything in this basket is somewhere in the range of 0.00001 percent. Your gift basket will probably look something like this: gift-store chocolate; items with company logo, which will definitely include but are not limited to a coffee mug, a pen, a carabiner, and a chip clip; a $5 off a $25 purchase at your office park gift store; and a $5 gift card to Starbucks. Take the gift card and try not to let your boss catch you dumping the basket in the dumpster on the way out.
4. Gift Cards
We’ve finally moved on to the upper echelon of corporate gifts with the gift card. If your boss loves you, this will be a $100 gift card to Amazon, Target, or Starbucks. Bonus points if it’s one of those highly coveted Visa gift cards that you can use on everything except credit card bills. However, this gift still lies in the middle of the list, because gift cards are always a risk. There’s always a chance that this will be a $10 to $25 useless piece of plastic that can only be redeemed at Walmart or Kohl’s. It’s also a little disheartening when you realize that the appreciation of your work is valued at $15 worth of coffee at IHOP. Leave a comment in the suggestion box and hope things look up next year.
3. Bottle Of Wine
I can say with 100 percent certainty that the only good thing about working with lawyers is that they like to drink. A lot. When middle-aged lawyers who are out of touch with reality are put in charge of purchasing office gifts, they’ll pick the only thing they know people won’t complain about: a bottle of wine. If you do work with lawyers or at a company that had a great year in sales, this won’t be the Barefoot you’re used to, either. You’ll finally be able to taste what it’s like to get drunk as part of the one percent that can afford bottles of wine that cost more than $25. The bad news is that if you do indeed work at a law firm, there’s about a 70 percent chance that bottle is meant to ease the pain of your inevitable layoff in the next three months. Let that bad boy age a little bit before you break it open, just in case.
2. A Really Badass Party
I might be shaking it up by putting something that isn’t a physical gift in the top two, but if you’ve been to one of these parties, you’ll know why. I’m not talking about stale Panera bagels in the break room and Christmas cookies that Susie the receptionist made, either. I’m talking about the kind of party that’s so great, you can’t believe your boss actually had anything to do with it. For five years, I worked at the same job that killed my soul every day, but when things got extra bad, I would think to myself, “At least I get to go to the Christmas party.” My multi-millionaire boss would throw a Gatsby-style bash in the mansion he built from underpaying all of us for years. Each employee and his or her guest had a hotel room on the company and would ride the free shuttle to our boss’s mansion where we were met with three open bars, food catered from a top restaurant, and, of course, a dance floor and karaoke. Everyone looks nice for a change, and you finally realize that asshole in accounting isn’t as much of an asshole after he’s had three margaritas. We also got raffle tickets to win items like iPads, TVs, and $300 gift cards. For at least five hours, you actually feel like your place of employment cares about you, and that in itself is enough to get you through February without complaining about your job, which is the most priceless gift of all.
1. Cash Money
Above everything else, a cash bonus easily clenches the number one spot. Whether it’s a flat amount or a percentage of your salary, a cash bonus makes you get the warm fuzzies unlike anything else. It’s likely that you’re out hundreds, if not thousands, for the holiday season, and a cash bonus not only makes you feel something resembling affection toward your boss, but it gives you the sense of relief that comes when you realize maybe you won’t get sent to collections after all. Do yourself a favor and use at least part of that bonus to splurge on a trip to the liquor store for something other than Franzia. After the year you’ve had, you deserve it..
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