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Christmas Cheer

Company Gift Time Again? 116

realratso asks: "So it's that time of year again... the holidays. Time to choose the 'company gift' for everyone in our small programming company. We've done all the stuff with the company logo- sweatshirts, t-shirts, travel bags, glasses, mugs, etc. It all seems so boring. Is there any gift which you have received at your workplace that was super-cool, not gender specific, and relatively inexpensive? Something that was really usable and worthwhile that you appreciated, but might not buy for yourself? Maybe a new techno-gadget? (and no, 'just money' is not a valid answer)"
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Company Gift Time Again?

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  • Gender important? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by wesleyrey ( 250204 )
    Could you give females one thing and males another or does everyone need to get the same thing?
  • Got it. (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    at was super-cool, not gender specific, and relatively inexpensive?

    Anal beads. Seriously.
    • Most geeks already have problems just washing their clothes. No thanks.
      • Re:Yuck (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Heh, with a name like small furry creature, you better stay away from the anal bead people, or you'll be washing more than just your clothes. . .
    • LOL! If I got anal beads from my company I would start to love my job!! Not that I'd use them, not on myself anyway, butt (pun intended) a company giving anal beads to its programmers is just the one thing that you'd expect the very least.. ;) And I'd love them forever for it! ;)

    • Funny, most of the geeks I know are too analretentive to do it with the lights on, let alone use anal beads. But then again, the one I'm specifically thinking of, his wife, well lets just say I'd turn the lights out too.
  • Hookers? (Score:1, Troll)

    by benwb ( 96829 )
    Really usable and worthwhile, but I wouldn't buy one for myself.
  • by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @11:44AM (#4767549) Homepage
    Are we talking under $50? Under $20? Under $10? There's a lot of cool gifts in the $50 range, but I'm sure you're thinking along the lines of around $15, right?

    If not, I recommend a jaunt to Thinkgeek and get a boat-load of those Digi-Q remote controlled racing cars. :)

  • Hamster! (Score:4, Funny)

    by L. VeGas ( 580015 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @11:45AM (#4767556) Homepage Journal
    Cute, cheap, teaches responsibility.
    And It has the side benefit that next year the workers will hope you don't get them anything.
  • Klein Bottle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dmorin ( 25609 ) <dmorin AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @11:49AM (#4767588) Homepage Journal
    www.kleinbottle.com is pretty cool, but I'm sure it's too expensive for what you want to do.
    • Nothing beats putty: http://www.puttyworld.com/
    • > www.kleinbottle.com is pretty cool, but I'm sure it's too expensive for what you want to do.

      I dunno. $30 for the "baby" Klein bottle is pretty reasonable. Add maybe $0.50 for having Kinko's print the company logo on a sheet of transparent sticker stuff, and a little bit of time to stick 'em on.

      Besides, they're from Cliff Stoll, of Cuckoo's Egg fame. It just doesn't get much geekier than that.

  • by Trusty Penfold ( 615679 ) <jon_edwards@spanners4us.com> on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @11:52AM (#4767619) Journal

    Our company just gave us layoffs :-(
  • How about (Score:4, Interesting)

    by succotash ( 230711 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @11:54AM (#4767638)
    Tickets to the Lord of the Rings movie?
  • condoms with your company logo on the tip!
  • Foosball Table! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bouncings ( 55215 ) <ken&kenkinder,com> on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @12:01PM (#4767686) Homepage
    One for the office. It's actually pretty cheap compared to big bonuses, it'll always be rememberd, and it's a great recruiting tool.
  • by jpsst34 ( 582349 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @12:03PM (#4767691) Journal
    How about an Everglide [everglide.com] mousing surface? I have one at home and one at work. Anyone who's used them loves them. And their prices have dropped to about 12 bucks for the standard elliptical one.
  • Take the whole team out for a nice lunch. Find a place that everyone enjoys and just take a long lunch hour shooting the breeze about non-work stuff. When it's done. Tell them they're free to go home if they want.
    • In addition to a monetary bonus, my team of 5 people got dinner at Morton's steak house. Tons of food and drinks. I'm going to guess the bill was over $500. The salary is below average, but they sure know how to say thank you when we complete a big project!
  • Hashish and Tequilla (Score:3, Informative)

    by jpsst34 ( 582349 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @12:05PM (#4767708) Journal
    These are things that I would love to have, but don't want to buy for myself. Plus, if you're feeling down, there's nothing like two mental depressants to get your spirits up. "A surefire healer: Hashish and Tequilla"
  • condoms (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Bastian ( 66383 )
    Everyone needs condoms.

    Even if you think you don't need condoms, you do.

    You can fit a gallon of water in one - great if you're planning on going on a desert trip.

    They don't break too easily if you don't put too much water in 'em, so they make nice re-usable water balloons.

    You can cut 'em down the side and use them as lallies.

    If smuggling's your thing, youc an always pack them with coke and swallow them!

    blow a french tickler up a little bit and it looks like a mouse. Give it to your cat as a toy.

    I tell ya, condoms are nature's duct tape!
  • Security Blanket (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spuke4000 ( 587845 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @12:09PM (#4767729)
    I work for a small network security company. Last year they gave us a fleece blanket with the company logo on it (the joke was that its a security blanket). Really, though, it was the best piece of swag I ever got. I don't think it's too expensive, gender neutral, one size fits all... and everyone liked them.
    • They gave some of those out to some managers here last year. The implication for us was, "Plan on working some long hours... in fact plan on sleeping at you desk."

      They were given at a time when we knew some rough changes were on the horizon, so that my have swayed our view. In fact, I think everyone I know of that got one got laid off 5 months later.

      I thought they were cool, but not being a manager I didn't rate getting anything. (except to keep but job, but the jury's still out on that =])
  • Find something cool on Thinkgeek [thinkgeek.com] ...
  • Swingline (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @12:12PM (#4767745) Homepage
    I'd recommend a red Swingline stapler for everyone. Not only will it keep your employees happy, but it'll cut down on your fire insurance rates!
  • Get stuff from think geek.... or buy them little stuffed tux penguins.... Or even better... find and buy the large tux penguins (you know... the ones that are like two feet tall), so they can put them in the passenger seat in their cars. If anybody knows who sells the large tuxs... please post a link.
  • Nerf guns (Score:2, Informative)

    by cjhuitt ( 466651 )
    Lots of people have replied talking about ThinkGeek, but pay particular attention to the Nerf guns that they have. If your company atmosphere is the same as mine (small, everyone knows everyone, and good-natured) there's nothing like having a Nerf gun handy to express your disagreements with.

    Be sure to load up with extra darts, however. Those things can get themselves lost in the time it takes you to blink.
    • Or if you're planning layoffs, you can speed things up by giving real guns. You don't need anything expensive, and guns are indeed handy to express disagreements with. Plus, you can get back your "investment" by selling them off on the black market. (The guns, not the employees. Although that is another idea...)

      You don't even need extra rounds if your employees are geeks, because all that quake-playing and matrix-watching has made them sharp shooters!
  • by xagon7 ( 530399 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @12:26PM (#4767890)
    Yes, money. I am married with 2 children. I would rather my workplace give money than some newfangled toy that will collect dust and only be used as a novelty. Making my family happy makes me happy. Money, food, clothes, and toys from Santa makes my family happy. Don't think you are being uncaring or cheap by giving money, as it is probably the MOST welcome.
    • You know, this might be in addition to the regualr holiday cash bonus. Maybe something a manager wants to give his underlings to show his appreciation -- it is a small company. Honestly, a thoughtfully chosen, and inscribed card might fit the bill.

      If you're already getting the bonus, what else would you like from your boss?
  • by crath ( 80215 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @12:32PM (#4767942) Homepage
    We gave umbrella's to beta testers a couple of years ago; the tall ones that one usually associates with golfing. It was considered odd at the time, but since then we've had lots of positive comments on how much everyone appreciated them. BTW, we had the product logo silk screened onto them.
  • 2 best gifts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by moc.tfosorcimgllib ( 602636 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @12:32PM (#4767950) Journal
    One was an unexpected paid day off:
    Everyone was working on Monday already, Christmas was on Tuesday. The friday before, boss walks in, says everyone has monday off, fully paid, and took us out to lunch.

    The other best gift was gift certificates to the restraunt of our choice, Boos just went around, asked everyone individually where they liked to eat out, and bought $30 gift certificates to that place with a card, and put them in a holiday mug.
    • This is a pretty neat idea. It also seems to show that the boss is thinking about each employee individually. The idea could be expanded to include music/video/book stores or magazine subscriptions.

      I wouldn't mind a gift certificate to the local used book store. The one with lots of math books -- better selection than everywhere but the university's science library.
  • under $20, you can get them engraved, they're really handy little tools for your keyring/belt loop/purse
  • No matter what you choose, there will always be some people who dont like it.
    A few years ago I worked for a company who had the perfect solution. They created a gift list with about 15 equally valued items on it. I remember the traditional food-and-drink box, a darts board, a clock and the option to donate the money to charity. Everybody filled in a form and this way everybody got exactly what they wanted!
  • Get everyone a Leatherman Micra [leatherman.com]. It's fantastically useful and is very portable (2.5" long, 1.75oz).

    It's got Scissors, Clip-Point Knife, Tweezers, Nail File / Cleaner, Flat Phillips Screwdriver,
    Extra Small Screwdriver, Medium Screwdriver, Bottle Opener & Ruler (Inch / Metric)

    Best of all thinkgeek are doing them for $20

    (Yes, I've got one. I've also got a Leatherman Wave. They're a bit more expensive...)
  • We have had various types of cheesy gifts, but the one that everyone appreciated the most was a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Not only does it cater to everyone's various tastes, but it offers choices of books, music, journals, etc. Everyone went home very happy that christmas. I think they might even offer corporate discounts??
  • Cannabis?? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    OK...say you've got a 300 employee company -- all of whom enjoy recreational cannabis use and your per-employee budget is around $50.

    This gives you a gift budget of around $15,000. When dealing with cannabis, the economies of scale apply quite nicely, and you can get a pound of (very) heady nugs for between $1500 and $2500. At these prices, you would have between 6 and 10 pounds of stinky, heady cannabis. This would give you between 1/4 and 1/2 ounce of very high quality cannabis per employee -- depending on the cost of weed, pinching, hashmaking on the side, etc.

    Lastly, if the nugs were available at $1500/lb, and you set your employees each up with 1/2oz, you'd have 10oz left over to pocket...another huge win (worth ~$4000 on the street).

    Assuming you can manage to stay out of jail and convince your auditors that this cannabis fits into your capital expenditure budget, I believe that this is the perfect gift.

    --A dumbass stoner ;)
  • Nothing beats cash.

    You can't pay bills with a company shirt, a coffee mug, or a company party. I would rather have something that is of actual value.
    • Say you're getting a $1000 Christmas bonus, would an extra $20 make that much of a difference? But say that $20 was used to show that your boss was considerate enough to think about you. It's entirely possible that this kind of a gesture might make someone feel appreciated. This is probably the goal here.
    • Nothing beats cash.

      Absolutely. I have never met anyone who has received any sort of employer-branded merchandise that wouldn't have rather had the cash. It has a knock on effect to: every time a manager says there isn't budget for upgrades, training etc, someone will mutter "huh, they had the money for those stupid t-shirts."

      One company I worked for we got t-shirts, hooded sweaters, mousemats, rubber bouncy balls, magic 8-balls, juggling balls, yoyos, record bags, you name it.

      Needless to say, since it's peak in 2000 about 90% of their staff have been laid off...
  • Booze. Hello?
    Pick their poison and buy a pint of the high quality brand.
  • * LED flashlight (get different colors, let people trade amongst themselves)
    * USB key drive
  • Keychain LEDs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cartographer ( 12282 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @01:28PM (#4768459) Homepage
    I got one of those keychain LED flashlights at work a year ago and loved it to death. I recently had to buy myself a replacement.

    That was a perfect office gift; cheap, slightly geeky and useful.
  • Case in point: I have never received anything from my employers except a couple hours off early [paid] before Christmas Eve - of course, that will not happen this year (at least for tomorrow and Friday) because of my contractor status - except:

    When I worked as a government employee, the four in our little unit were friends and I got gifts from everyone far more fortunate than my broke GS-4 self.

    And last year the company I was working for sent me smoked fish in one of those freezer shipment packs - which was very nice because the person doing all the client and employee gift-giving noted that I liked smoked fish on my bagels.

    Which does illustrate my point: I remember that gift better than any other probably because it was food (except for the extra-expensive sweater my ex-boss/good friend Jim Banks gave me that was a SMALL - but for big and tall men so it swallowed my tiny 19yo frame and fits very well and comfortably now *chuckle* He won't read this but he knows that thing has kept me alive in the freezing cold a few dozen times).

    Something no one except a bulemic could complain about is gathering everyone up and feeding them at whatever the local favorite is - it doesn't have to be expensive but it could be more memorable than Applebee's or the like. You've avoided any cliches and not given someone something they will discard in the future. Add a Christmas card or Thank You note for good measure.
  • How about the entire Baen library on CD [slashdot.org]? Priced right!
  • This is redundant, but it needs to be in order to not be overshadowed by all the attempts at humor.

    Give everyone a nice lunch or gift certs to his or her favorite restaurant (suggested by moc.tfosorcimgllib) or a day off.

    These may not be "super-cool" but they are gender non-specific and relatively inexpensive considering that employees will just be goofing off anyway. Seriously, do I really need something with the company logo?

    My company: We get US$20 in grocery store gift certs, a potluck lunch (yes, I live in the Midwest), and a nice lunch (on a different day, of course) at the local country club. It's not a lot, but it at the end of the day I don't have a gift just sitting around the house.

    And, by the way, I prefer cash. It is a very valid gift! You cannot go wrong with cash!

  • Forget the rest, just give 'em money.

    I work for a company that doesn't do Christmas bonuses, so I'd much prefer to get money.

    Or take them all out to see LoTR:TTT. :)
  • From my company what I'd enjoy the best is a paid day, or half day off - without any major strings attached.

    Other than that, I'd recommend gift certificates. I realize that isn't a cool techy thing to give, but at least then everyone gets what they want - not what you guessed they'd want.
  • How about a donation in their name to The Human Fund [geocities.com]?
  • Probably the *best* company gift I've ever received was a personalized latte mug. Everyone got one with their name on it. It's the only mug that doesn't walk away!

    I'm a big fan of yo-yos. Letter openers (the plastic kind with a little razor safely hidden) are really useful. If you're going more high-end I'd recommend one of the nice messenger style bags. They seem to be appreciated.

    I've received a couple of watches and never used any of them. Also, I am so sick of getting men's shirts I could scream. Luckily one of the founders here is a woman. She went out of her way to have some women's shirts embroidered with our logo for the females here. Finally, logo gear I can really use!

  • It looks like a Palm Pilot, but it's actually a notepad [computergear.com]. Even comes with fake stylus.

    - adam

    P.S. WARNING: This company is in Redmond, thus any money you spend there might wind up getting funnelled through a business tax and eventually pay for a roadway lane painting that might be used to get an employee to Microsoft -- so use your best judgement.

  • ...was a GameBoy.

    Granted this was back during the boom period, but it wasn't that expensive. I think, in the quantity that they ordered, they were on the order of $50/ea.
    • You do know that "on the order of $50/ea" means they cost between $5 and $500, right?

      Yes, I do hypenate analretentive. ;-)

      But seriously, if the employees are on the younger side, or have a kid, a gamboy and a game could be a great idea.

      But the best idea would be to ask the employees what they want. Narrow it down first, though. I mean, questions like "what author do you want to read but never have?" or "do you have a favorite bar you go to after a hard day at work?" would give an idea what the employees want (books, gift certificate to a particular resturant, etc). But, and this is a big but, if it's a small company, the boss or middle management should already know these things, asking the questions too close to Christmas may seem tacky to some. Particularly if managment is usually aloof.
      • You do know that "on the order of $50/ea" means they cost between $5 and $500, right?

        I didn't realize that. Aparently dictionary.com [reference.com] didn't either:

        (quoting from link)

        on the order of

        1. Of a kind or fashion similar to; like: a house on the order of a mountain lodge.
        2. Approximately; about: equipment costing on the order of a million dollars.

        (end quote)

        Yes, I do hypenate analretentive. ;-)

        It would appear that you forgot in this case ;-) (maybe it was stolen along with the second 'h' in hyphenate)
    • What about a cybiko? Sure, Cybiko has abandoned their user base and you can't get support anymore but they sure are cheap and there's plenty of apps & games available.
  • ...that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in America? As such, you shouldn't be worried about showing appreciation for your employees. Rather, they should be thankful to you that they have jobs. There are plenty of programmers out there that don't have jobs, or at least ones they can be proud of. For instance, I had to settle for jizmopper at the local nudie booth. With that, I say you give them all a wish list so that they know what gifts to buy for you.
  • And not consuming useless crap? AdBusters [adbusters.org]

    You want a great gift: add a vacation day, or a half day if that's too much.

    • Hey, if I were a boss, and if it only takes a small gesture with some material good to let my employees know that I am able to think of them as individuals, and that I appreciate them, then I see no harm. In fact, I see the antithesis of harm.

      A generic gift like an extra vacation day could send the exact opposite idea: you're not as welcome here as you could be.
  • keychain usb drives (Score:4, Interesting)

    by acomj ( 20611 ) on Wednesday November 27, 2002 @05:27PM (#4770427) Homepage
    Those keychain usb drives. They sell them with company logos on them too..

    Great for taking home work, files you download in the office etc..

  • A nice night out on the town. All four of us from our branch [in my last job, timber yard foreman] went on the piss for the night. Drinking, live band who were damn good, some pool, bowling, a kebab, and a few fat spliffs.

    Yes, that's right, our manager got us a bag of some nice smelly weed and we all had a smoke session! With company money! That said, we could smoke up the yard so long as we didn't get paralytic. Ah the good old days...

    If it wasn't for my fscked up back, I'd still be there. :( My current job is shite.


  • Some [slashdot.org] have noted that nothing beats face time with the family and any toy is going to collect dust. Well, I had an manager (alas, now departed from my employer) who used to send thank you notes and give dinner gift certificates (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc.) to a worker's spouse after a schedule crunch. Sort of a "Thank you for putting up with all the long hours." For singles, I think he just gave it straight to the worker, but a very nice touch for those with a brood at home.

    Anyone else have suggestions for gifts in this mode?

  • Make some little cards with some holiday themed pictures, and this poem.

    Roses are red, violets are blue.
    The economy is dead, so
    There's nothing for you.(except this card.)

    Happy Holidaze anyway.
  • I enjoy the Griffin Technology "PowerMate" [griffintechnology.com]

    They are these litte cast steel scroll volume deals that you can alias out to anything. They have a slick ass breathing like glow under them that will make everyone that walks by stop and say "What the hell is that thing?!".

    I got 5 of these things for my friends for x-mas and everyone loves them. They work on pretty much everything as far as I can tell. They have drivers for every flavor of windows, osx, and os9 on the mac. I did not see any linux drivers but I am sure they are out there somewhere if you can get it to run on osX. You can give the spin a key to send when you use it, say "send left-arrow" when you spin it to the right, right-arrow to the left...send alt-cntrl-del when you click it. One of the guys uses it to scroll web pages and the click to switch tab in pheonix...the perfect porn browser...err game site...whatever..

    Anyway check em out.

  • One year my company bought our entire staff nice-looking, waterproof, nylon jackets with the company logo and departnent name stitched on them. The logo was inobtrusive and almost unnoticable unless you looked close. Everyone liked them and wore them often. Another year we got gift certificates to a local mall so we could go buy whatever we wanted. That pleased most people.

    Last year each of the tech staff got a Victorinox SwissTool X. They must have liked them, you see them on every tech's belt and are the first tool grabbed when cutting a cable, tightening a nut, stripping a wire or slicing a bagel.

    Past gifts that the staff didn't like were: jewelery (some people don't wear it or have no one to give it to), logo merchandise from the company catalog (usually so cheaply made it isn't worth the time to throw it away), rounds of golf at a local club and a company logo golf shirt (half the staff didn't play and the shirt was BUTT-UGLY), restaurant gift certificates (people with families got larger value certificates than single people which caused ill feelings and a few people either didn't like or couldn't eat at the chosen restaurant).

    Worst one was when they hired a room and a caterer at a fancy hotel to make a "Special Christmas Luncheon of Appreciation" for us, then spent half an hour trying to get us to all sing Christmas carols where the lyrics had been changed to (very bad) lyrics relating to our industry and our jobs. (Don't ask. Some nights I still wake up screaming.)

    And THEN, just before they serve the food, they tell us we have to be done eating and back to work in 30 minutes because they only rented the room for an hour. The next year when management suggested they might do it again, no one signed up to participate and it was never mentioned again, except in a context involving Hell freezing over.

  • We've got one of those lame secret Santa things, so I'm just going to pick up the 2003 Despair [despair.com] calendar. With such gems as:

    Meetings: None of us is as dumb as all of us

    Good stuff!

  • Or even a dirt-cheap digital camera?
  • I personally like /dev/blanket, and /dev/pillow from ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com].
  • On the day before a standard day off, give half the day off. People are already thinking of being off, so less gets done - give it to everyone off, and they can beat some traffic. :) Also bring in bagels, muffins, etc in the morning, and drinks (non alcoholic) in the afternoon. Nice way to start some off time.
  • Last year I gave everyone in my family a Photon light [slashdot.org]. This year they're all getting Squirts [slashdot.org]. The various small Swiss Army knives [slashdot.org] are also cool.

  • Mugs are pretty generic, but I actually like collecting company mugs from my employers, especially if they are good, thick, tall mugs that I'll use. T-shirts are crap. Glasses? Do you mean shot glasses, sunglasses or what? If shot glass, that is pretty cool; if some other "glass," sounds like crap! One workplace gave us long-sleeve button-downs with the company logo "tastefully" sized and positioned above the left pocket; as long as it's a nice shirt I can wear at work and home, that is a useable item I'll glady accept. Travel bags are good for some people, but not others. I got a really nice American Hunter overnight bag while working at the NRA, and my wife and I use it every trip, so that was a good gift.

    As for other items, that is a tough question if you are tying to avoid monotony. You could do the star registry thing, granted some will laugh; but it is a unique idea and a
    conversation starter; it is also symbolic, like saying that all your employees are star workers. Another idea, if your company allows music in the workplace AND you can think of enough songs, is to create a compilation CD (professionally, from one of the many websites) of songs that are heard in the workplace a lot, even songs that represent the company's past year.

    I think the most important thing is that company logo gifts be items that are quality made and useable at the office and out of the office (whether at home, or even a new job elsewhere). These days, in this economy, usefulness and durability are most important. It's the same when my family asks what I want for Christmas or my b-day; I tell them I want clothes, cause I'll use them and rarely go to the dept. store anyway.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein