Terrible Ideas For Secret Santa Gifts

I know, you’re on a tight budget this year, and office Secret Santa exchanges are tedious and awkward. But please don’t fill a hot dog bun with cat food and then top it off with ketchup, then wrap that up in gift wrap and call it your gift. Because someone already did that. Someone at a Sunday School. MainStreet.com has a list of 13 of the worst Secret Santa gift ideas if you want to know what else has already been attempted.

“The Worst Secret Santa Gifts Ever” [MainStreet.com]


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  1. aka_mich says:

    I have one more for the list, I work at a signmaking company so two years ago my mother has me make up some stop signs that say “GO” for her to give out as gifts. I’ll let you think on that one for awhile.

  2. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    Darn, my job has already done our Secret Santa. Though one year someone in my family got a box of “Ear Candles” from their Secret Santa. Ugh!

    • tbax929 says:

      What’s an ear candle?

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      I love how some people give gifts like five-year-olds who assume that what THEY like, everyone likes. It’s rather charming when a five-year-old uses his allowance to buy his mom a Thomas the Tank Engine toy because it’s what HE likes best in the world and wants HER to have one because of that, but when an adult is like, “I love ear candles — that means EVERYONE will love ear candles!” that’s just lame. And probably a sign of some kind of immaturity problem that has a name in the DSM-IV.

  3. Cameraman says:

    Someone at work Googled me, found my Amazon wish list, and bought me something off of that. Awesome.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      That’s…actually kind of freaky. I’m not sure I’d like to get a gift from a relative stranger and be told, “yeah, you had a great Amazon wishlist.” I think I’d be freaked out.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Hmm…I’d be freaked out if I didn’t use my real name on Amazon and they figured out it was me anyway.

      • Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

        Would it have been a public wish list anyway for them to find it? I wouldn’t call that too freaky :)

  4. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    Why do websites make 17 pages of ads with barely any text and call it an “article”?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      They do it to increase page views and decrease the number of people who visit their site regularly.

      They did their links in a bassackwards way to prevent the ‘Next’ bookmarklet from pulling the 16 additional pages into one page.

      • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

        Yes, thanks, but it was more of a rhetorical question.

        Personally, it makes me quite unlikely to visit that site ever again.

      • Ubik2501 says:

        Not to mention it breaks the “Back” function on at least one browser. But then again, that’s IE6 (don’t blame me, blame my office!). That just screams of either bad coding or a skeezy way to keep you looking at ads.

    • tbax929 says:

      I was irritated by that, too. That “article” could have fit on one page. It wouldn’t make me likely to view their site on a regular basis, that’s for sure.

    • t0ph says:

      I saw only 2 ads out of the 17 pages…

    • H3ion says:

      I was wondering why someone would give a free credit report as a Secret Santa gift.

  5. cmdr.sass says:

    warning: it spans 17 pages.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      And nearly half of them are paid advertisemenrs. Boo. Hiss! It’s one thing to earn money with your blog or online magazine. It’s something else entirely to offer 1 page’s worth of content stretched over 17 pages/

  6. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I can understand if people give generic or boring gifts, but a can of creamed corn? A hot dog with cat food on it? A bottlecap necklace? You couldn’t just walk to a CVS and buy someone a box of candy or something? I know gift giving can be kind of annoying if you don’t really know that person, but a generic or boring gift is so much better than a crappy gift.

  7. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I’m so glad we don’t do this crap at our office.

    The last person in the article needs to be punched in the face repeatedly.

    • tbax929 says:

      I’m glad my new job isn’t going to force me to participate in birthdays, holidays, and all that silly stuff. I feel like if I want to give someone a gift, I will. The problem with having “voluntary” participation in things is that if you’re one of those people who don’t participate, people will give you a hard time about it.

      A former coworker of mine is a Jehovah’s Witness and doesn’t celebrate holidays. This year, when they planned to close the office early after their holiday lunch, they didn’t even bother to tell her the office was closing early. She found out when everyone started leaving. Ridiculous.

      • XTC46 says:

        I agree, Its very similar to companies planning department outings where everyone pays for themselves, but doing it at a place not everyone can afford. We recently had a golf outing, and while the price wasnt extreme (it was $60 for the round) it was enough that several people didnt want to go becasue of the cost, when the event could have just as easily been planned at a place for half the cost, where everyone, even those who dont golf, would have come along for the fun.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          I get the feeling certain people just felt like golfing and called it a ‘company outing’ just so they could do it on work time.

        • RandomHookup says:

          I would also venture to guess there are plenty of people who don’t play or don’t like golf. I’d be ticked if the boss decided a golf outing was how we would spend some time. You could find me at the 19th hole.

        • Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

          My husband has to go to a Christmas lunch with his company at Wok n’ Roll. It’s 16 bucks a person, but he hates Asian food. I hope they have chicken tenders or something…

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        So are they pissed at her for being Jehovah’s Witness or what?

        • tbax929 says:

          Oh, yeah. They treated the only Jewish employee we had similarly before they fired her. They complained that she got the “benefit” of taking off for Jewish holiday and also being off for Christian ones. Of course, it wasn’t her fault the office closed for Christian holidays. Gotta love corporate America.

          • FaustianSlip says:

            That sounds like lawsuit material if they gave it as a reason for firing her. Especially if she was using personal days or unpaid leave or something to take off for Rosh Hashanah or whatever.

  8. Etoiles says:

    We don’t have gifting here at work really, but “work” is “a large international media company that sells last season’s DVDs to employees for dirt freaking cheap once a year,” so I made out like a bandit for the family’s secret santa next weekend. Yay!

  9. tbax929 says:

    I know the bottle cap necklace isn’t a good idea, but a friend of mine gifted to me a beer bottle cap belt that has caps all my favorite beers on it. Every time I wear it, people want to know where I got it from. IT’s one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever received. She has one she made for herself that’s all Coke bottle caps.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      The difference here is that the gift-giver was your friend. When strangers or acquaintences do it under the guise of a voluntary (read: mandatory) Secret Santa, it’s disastrous and tacky.

      • tbax929 says:

        Oh, I agree. It’s just that the bottle cap necklace reminded me of how much I love my bottle cap belt. I actually HATE the idea of Secret Santa, and I wouldn’t participate in it if it were something my employer did.

      • XTC46 says:

        The other difference is his had thought and effor put into it. A bottle cap belt, using caps from your varoite beers from a friend, is exponentially better than a cap filled with glu and glitter from a random person.

        • tbax929 says:

          Agreed. I think even if you’re doing a Secret Santa kinda thing, you should take some time and find out what that person is in to, instead of just buying a $10 gift at Target and hoping it’s something they’ll like.

      • RandomHookup says:

        I’ve been fortunate to never participate in a Secret Santa or a Yankee Swap at work (or anywhere else that I can think of). People just assume I’m a Scrooge (pretty much on target).

  10. Thanatos says:

    The one about the stolen clock is sad clearly the clock had some sentimental value to her.

    • tbax929 says:

      It’s also incredibly cruel to do. I remember one job in which I was given a hard time because I hadn’t “personalized” my office. I’m extremely private and don’t need to advertise for my favorite teams or put pics of my loved ones around my office. But, apparently, that made me seem unapproachable. If someone had taken one of the two or three things I had in my office and wrapped them as a joke, I’d be raging.

      • treimel says:

        I guess I’m un-approachable, too, then. Work is work; I never really understood the personalizing mania.

        • tbax929 says:

          Me either. Someone gave me a calendar of the television show “The Office”, and I made the mistake of hanging it up. For over a year, I received other office stuff with “The Office” on it. I guess that’s all they knew about me – that I watched The Office!

          • pop top says:

            Basically it’s because you spend 40 hours (more or less) a week there. It’s just to make it a better place for yourself, less dreary and all that. I don’t think people should be treated poorly over not wanting to decorate, but it is a bit weird, to me at least…

    • lucky929 says:

      I wonder if the person who got it recognized the clock and gave it back.

  11. MDSasquatch says:

    I wrapped a can of beets for a party a few years back, I still laugh when I think of the poor guy that got stuck with them.

  12. ilovemom says:

    Someone gifted a box of condoms at the office gift swap this year. That person is my hero.

  13. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    On the list is a can of creamed corn … One year my youngest brother was being contrary and refused to tell me anything he might like for Christmas — wouldn’t tell me what he was reading these days, what he was watching on TV, what he liked at the movies recently, NOTHING. (I was away at school.) So I threatened him that if he didn’t give me SOME idea, I was going to get him a can of corn. He held firm and refused to give me any ideas.

    So I went to the restaurant supply store and got the most gigantonormous can of corn I could find. It weight a ton. Wrapped it pretty, put a bow on top, stuck it under the tree. He was psyched because it was a big present … then opened it and found the giant can of corn. He was not amused, but everyone else was laughing hysterically.

    I also got him a Nintendo game but didn’t give it to him until after he opened the giant can o’ corn. Now he always, always gives me a few ideas when I threaten him with corn. :D

    • lucky929 says:

      Excellent gag gift. I now have a new threat for my cousin!

    • MDSasquatch says:

      Corn – the gift that keeps on giving.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Hey, you warned him!

      Now I’m wondering if the person who got corn in the article also refused to give co-workers any idea of what they wanted.

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I told my sister-in-law to tell my nieces and nephew that if I didn’t get wish lists, they’d be getting brussels sprouts. I finally got lists about 10 days ago, which was much too late.

      Unfortunately I couldn’t find any plastic or foam sprouts, but I did find some diabolical gift card holders at Think Geek that make you move a tiny metal ball through a maze in order to open them. And I made some wrapping paper by printing out a photo of some sprouts in a tiled layout. Hopefully they’ll make the connection …

    • kaceetheconsumer says:

      That’s frickin’ awesome. :D

      • kaceetheconsumer says:

        And actually, it would have been even funnier if he had photographed a series of non-standard uses for it…ie an ottoman, a door stop, paperweight for giant paper, etc.

        I am very tired so this is amusing the heck out of me.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    Learn from my mistake, fellow commentators: do not sneak into the house of your Secret Santa recipient, chloroform their pet, take it home then return it to the office party mounted, stuffed and tied with a red bow.
    No matter how great of a job you do, it will not be appreciated as much as you’d think… Ingrates!

    PS: Even worse, don’t mistake their aged, sainted grandma curled up on their sofa in a fuzzy robe for their pet. Their thin skin makes them really hard to stuff, no matter how wicked-good your mad-ninja home taxidermist skills are.

    PPS: Ignored my advice? Already?! There’s still hope: blame the intern.

    • David in Brasil says:

      I’m going to take that advice at face value, Trai, and just not do it.

      No matter how much I might want to someday.

      • Trai_Dep says:

        I figure, if it’s good enough for the ancient Egyptians, it’s good enough for Grandma.
        Make way, lil’ nephews, Pharaoh Granny coming through!

  15. pop top says:

    Secret Santa is totally fun if you have a fun or “close” office (of if you’re not a mean shut in like some of the commenters here seem to be…). We did a white elephant gift exchange this year; someone won a that hot dog toaster thing. It was lots of fun. I guess it just depends on where you work.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      of if you’re not a mean shut in like some of the commenters here seem to be


      • pop top says:

        Seriously. I don’t get the animosity I’m sensing in some of these posts. You’re not a victim just because you don’t like giving gifts to co-workers.

        • tbax929 says:

          I don’t think any of us (even those who don’t participate) feel like we’re victims. If I actually liked the people I worked with (I didn’t at my last job), I would be happy to participate in some of the office shenanigans. But I’m not joining Secret Santa just to end up having to buy a gift for someone who treats me like crap and makes me dread going to work everyday. As someone else said, it depends on the office environment.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          I don’t get the animosity I’m sensing in some of these posts.

          Says the person calling people mean shut-ins. (You’re also the only one who used the word “victim”.)
          Maybe you’re taking people not wanting to give gifts to co-workers a bit too personally.

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      I have always wanted a hot dog toaster! (however, my more practical side realizes it would take up precious cabinet or counter space, just like the potato chip slicer)

    • RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

      A hot dog what now? As in a toaster that toasts hot dogs, or a hot dog shaped bread toaster?

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      Sure it’s fun, so long as everyone is on the same page.

      We have one here, where there is always at least one or two new gag gifts, and a perennial handful that are so bad they get returned to circulation for re-gifting every year.

      This poor girl purchased a lovely little gift, nicely wrapped it and contributed to the pile. When her number was called, she walked up and got a box that contained nothing under the wrapping but a broken hard drive. You could see the confusion on her face, wondering what strange practice this was where you bring a nice gift and get crap.

    • BytheSea says:

      Yeah, those are great, except they’re never as “close” or “fun” as the in-group thinks they are. There’s always the core group who thinks this is the best place to work ever and totally excludes the few lone weirdos. And then within the core, there’s the people who hate each other, the people who slept together, the beauty queens who shun the hangers-on. They call it office politics, not office shiny rainbows.

  16. subtlefrog says:

    One year we had a white elephant gift exchange, with friends from our biology department. My friend and I rigged it so that the chair of the department, an avowed atheist, would get the sweatshirt we’d found that read “God danced the day you were born.” Many awesome things were exchanged that night, but the sweatshirt took the cake.

  17. t0ph says:

    I decided to get my secret santa the ‘worst, most bizarre gift ever’.

    I bought her;

    An Ed Hardy beer cozy
    Insane Clown Posse shot glasses
    A rubber chicken
    a set of 4 Michael Jackson buttons
    A copy of Ebony Magazine
    And a $3 Hostess holiday fruitcake

    She is a 19 year old punk girl, so none of this stuff is up her alley. I think it’s funny, hope she does as well.

    • pop top says:

      See, this is why I like white elephant gifts. I have friends that have a WE party every year. Last year someone got Tater Mitts (https://www.tatermitts.com/), another got a murder mystery dinner party set (from me), there was a picture of our state capitol building, a remote control car, a talking parrot toy; just a bunch of silly, random stuff. It was great.

      • mk says:

        yes, I did white elephant with friends this year. It was fun. There was some good stuff (a hat I bought my husband that he never wore, a Hello Kitty toaster and some bad stuff (budweiser coasters, jar of diet snapple, copy of “Sophie’s Choice”)

        No one expects much from a white elephant, and if you’re good, it gives you a chance to get rid of something you no longer want or need and pick up some random junk – maybe even something you like (my husband walked away with a copy of “Smokey and the Bandit”)

  18. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    For a White Elephant exchange in high school I once stuck a hunk of firewood in a box, hand drew a label for the front and back, and called it LOG. This was before the internets, so I had to scramble around looking for examples of John Kricfalusi’s artwork to mimic, but it ended up being a pretty good pastiche, I thought. I did prank my friend Mary, in the sense that I told her she should pick my gift first, which she did, and she hit me, because I had made it out to be much more awesome. It worked out ok, though; since it was a White Elephant exchange, another friend who was obsessed with Ren & Stimpy took LOG, and Mary got another pick from the pile.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Now *that* is classic! Hmm. . .I think I know what the family joke gift will be this year — thanks!

    • Anathema777 says:

      I have LOG too. It started as a gift from my dad to my uncle, from my uncle to another uncle, from that uncle to a cousin, from that cousin to me.

      The best part is that LOG hibernates for a while. It will be years before it makes an appearance. I’m thinking it’s time is coming again.

  19. sasakan says:

    My family used to do white elephant exchanges every year. There was a certain gift passed around each year and it was a VERY well-endowed male plastic toad. It was the horny toad. I think it still gets passed around. There was also one year where someone got a giant inflatable penis in the exchange. That was hilarious.

    On my step-mom’s side of the family, they pass around this decorative (i.e.: puke-inducing) sparkly ball thing. It was a serious gift for my step-mom one year so as a prank she re-gifted it to someone and thus the tradition started.

    My favorite is still the horny toad.

  20. Batmanuel says:

    I always wanted to organize a Secret Satan event at work, where we give each other the most horrible gifts we can find (so long as they are HR appropriate).

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      I predict the list of HR INappropriate items would begin to get longer as people continually tried to test the limits.

      Some especially pungent cheese sitting gift-wrapped in the breakr oom for a few hours for instance..

  21. scoosdad says:

    My family Yankee Swap gift this year is going to be Bob Dylan’s Christmas album.

    Destined to become one of those truly awful but legendary recordings, right up there with William Shatner’s. Trust me, it’s that bad.