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Strategy 34 of the most bizarre holiday gifts employees have ever received from a coworker

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You're better off avoiding gifts that are inappropriate, offensive, or that might leave your coworkers scratching their heads.

Maybe just stick to homemade cookies or a really nice pen. play

Maybe just stick to homemade cookies or a really nice pen.

(Federico Rostagno/Shutterstock)

We've given you some dos and don'ts for exchanging gifts at the office.

But if you're still undecided on what you should get your coworkers this year, perhaps knowing what not to give is a good place to start.

According to a new survey from CareerBuilder, conducted online by Harris Poll among 3,907 employees and 2,257 HR professionals, about a fifth (22%) of employees say they plan to buy holiday gifts for coworkers, and 22% plan to buy a gift for their boss.

As a general rule, it's the thought that counts when it comes to gift-giving, which means gifting something thoughtless doesn't leave a very good impression. You're better off avoiding gifts that are inappropriate, offensive, or that might leave your coworkers scratching their heads.

To help you avoid these gift-giving faux-pas, here are 34 gifts real employees have received from someone in the office during the holiday season, according to CareerBuilder, CooperKatz, and Business Insider survey respondents:

Thoughtless gifts

Thoughtless gifts play

Thoughtless gifts

(Anita Ritenout/flickr)

• A bunch of stationery from the stationery cupboard

• A broken ornament

• Expired canned food

• Too-small, company-branded apparel

• A pad of paper

• Saran wrap



Second-hand gifts

Second-hand gifts play

Second-hand gifts

(Sarah Laval/flickr)

• A used Yankee candle

• Used plaid tennis shoe

• Old backpack full of old shoes

• Piece of cake that was already being eaten at the party



Mean gifts

Mean gifts play

Mean gifts

(REUTERS/Reinhard Krause)

• A bottle of axe and a card that said, "Take a shower."

• Lump of coal



DIY disasters

DIY disasters play

DIY disasters

(tracey r/flickr)

• Handmade quilted chicken

• Lampshade made out of egg cartons

• Music CD of a coworker



Living things

Living things play

Living things

(Volt Collection/Shuttershock)

• Live fish

• Live lizard



Unfunny joke gifts

Unfunny joke gifts play

Unfunny joke gifts

(Flickr/Andrew Malone)

• Farting Santa

• White elephant, literally

• A pen holder that looks like a crime scene victim

• Oversized pencil (1 1/2 inches in diameter, 12 inches in length)

• A fake lottery ticket



Inappropriate gifts

Inappropriate gifts play

Inappropriate gifts

(Sarah Jacobs/Business Insider)

• Jewelry

• Coconut bra

• A whip



Head-scratchers

Head-scratchers play

Head-scratchers

(Amazon)

• A book about using playing cards to predict the future

• Rain stick

• Shoe box with a ping pong ball inside

• Two left-handed gloves

• Meat injector

• A real stuffed duck

• A jar of gravy

• A jar of glitter

• Chicken earrings

Jacquelyn Smith contributed to an earlier version of this article.