Out-of-date book vouchers for Christmas? You shouldn’t have

Dec 13 2004 by Print This Article

British workers will spend a whopping £711 million on presents for each other this Christmas, a survey has predicted – but many of them will be inappropriate, bizarre or downright dangerous.

The survey of 5,000 workers by jobs’ website reed.co.uk found almost two in five employees - 39 per cent – said they were more likely to give seasonal presents to colleagues than they had been three years ago.

By comparison, Britain’s bosses are a load of old scrooges, it appears. Most said they would prefer to see gift-giving between employees banned.

More than one in five directors - 21 per cent – said they were less likely to give a present than three years ago.

The survey also questioned people on the worst presents they had been given by work colleagues, and threw up a list of seriously strange offerings.

These included expired book vouchers, a Bristol waterworks calendar for the previous year, a home-made radio controlled half ball of Edam cheese, a coconut, cellulite massage oil from a (married) boss, weight loss pills, suspenders and a whip, a pair of knickers with a picture of a cake and a caption saying “fancy a slice?” and faulty candles that exploded when they were lit.

Despite these howlers, three-quarters of the employees polled felt giving Christmas presents to colleagues was a good thing, arguing that it helped to improve office relationships.

Fewer than one in twenty thought it was bad for workplace relationships, rising to more than one in ten among directors.

Nationally, employees spend an average of £25 on colleagues at Christmas, with workers in the north west of England the most generous and those in the south west the least so. One in five said workers buying seasonal gifts found a stressful experience.

Reed.co.uk director Dan Ferrandino said: “People clearly enjoy giving presents to colleagues at this time of year and feel that it’s a good way of building relationships in the office.

“But it’s important to remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas and no one should be made to feel bad if they don’t want to join in.

“Remember, some presents can backfire badly and it is definitely not the time for private jokes.”