Gag gifts gone wrong

I enjoy giving gifts, especially when I pick just the right item and the recipient is thrilled with the present. Because of this, I’m not a fan of white elephant gift exchanges. It seems wasteful to give people gag gifts or gifts no one wants. It can also be offensive if a risqué gift is given in the workplace or with anyone but good friends.

A client shared with me that her workplace had their annual holiday party where they do a white elephant gift exchange. She said one of the more proper staff members unwrapped a gift and it was, ahem, a stamp of a male private part. The person opening the gift made light of it, but she was quite embarrassed, according to my client.

A present like this would be fine if you know the group well with whom you are exchanging gifts. But, if there is even one person in the group you don’t know well you risk possibly embarrassing them. A sexually suggestive or offensive gift is never appropriate in the workplace. It’s not professional and could be deemed as sexual harassment.  

So, next time you’re tempted to buy that um, you know, item, bypass it and go for the fire spitting Godzilla. A hit every time.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Gag Gifts: Making Gifting Fun! | on July 26, 2013 at 6:04 am

    […] but it’s probably not going to go over well at your great aunt’s 90th birthday party. Gag gifts are often crude, gross, or sexual in nature. Just because you get a laugh out of it doesn’t […]

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