Here are some more stories from our Christmas bag of anecdotes about workplace holiday gifts:
Nicole Wentz of PepsiCo is one of most mild-manned, mature people you’ll find in the work world or anywhere else. That’s what makes her rather surprising Christmas gift to a co-worker even more shocking.
Wentz gave a male co-worker some Poo-Pourri, a product for the, ah, bathroom.
“It’s a little spritzy thing,” she said. “Literally, you’re supposed to spray it before you go.”
Wentz said her co-worker wasn’t sure what to think.
“He just kind of looked at it like, what are you trying to tell me?”
She said she wasn’t trying to tell him anything. Wentz said she just meant it as a friendly gift, and one that’s especially handy when traveling with others.
“It works, I’m telling you.”
She said there are some handy holiday aspects to Poo-Pourri as well.
“You can always put, ‘Hope your Christmas isn’t crappy’ or, ‘Hope you don’t get crap for Christmas.’”
A bonus with the gift is you don’t need wrapping paper. Wentz said you can pop the spritzer in the hollow part of a roll of toilet paper and draw some eyes, a mouth and a carrot nose on the white part to make a snowman out of it.
“It’s the silliest thing, but it makes life a little nicer,” Wentz said.
She said her co-worker “loved it just because he had the right humor for it.”
“I can’t wait to see what his wife thinks about it.”
Gifts with a shelf life
Marketer Lindsay Young said she worked for a company that gave a Christmas gift to its customers that has had some shelf life.
Young, owner of Nu Marketing LLC, said in 2011 she was working for DEN Management, an HVAC company, on a marketing committee brainstorming ideas for a party to celebrate the company’s 40th anniversary.
She said the committee decided that the party would have a theme and tied it to one of the top 10 movies of 1971, the year DEN was founded.
They chose “Diamonds Are Forever,” a James Bond movie.
The company’s workers fashioned two life-size silhouettes of Bond girls holding a pistol out of sheet metal. At the anniversary party in September 2011, customers were invited to pose with the silhouettes and have their photos taken by a professional photographer.
In December, DEN sent each customer a framed photograph.
“This was almost four years ago, and I still see some of those customers,” Young said. “They still have those pictures and frames in their office. In marketing you’re always trying to think of something for a customer … that has shelf life to it. Obviously when they look at it, they’re going to remember the party and the company in a positive light.
“It did a lot more than we probably realized it would.”
A ‘worthless’ gift
Steve Yager’s most unusual holiday office gifts arrived at his downtown office in 1994. Both were sent by the AIM family of mutual funds.
He had sold “a whole bunch of AIM funds” that year, Yager said.
One gift was a Monte Carlo gambling chip, circa 1926, worth 1,000 French francs, framed and matted.
It said “Don’t gamble with your retirement security.”
It said that 1,000 francs, or $50, invested in the S&P 500 in 1926 would have been worth more than $40,000 in 1994.
AIM funds also sent him three currencies – $1 million in devalued pesos from Argentina; $5 million in obsolete drachma, the former currency of Greece; and $100 million in obsolete Yugoslavian dinars.
They were matted and framed together. While the money is real, it’s worthless, Yager said.
In gold printing, the gift said: “Inflation can make even multimillionaires poor.”
It went on to promote equities, saying that historically equities have kept pace with inflation.