Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

The Worst Christmas Gift I Ever Got

Lawyers Mutual BlogYears ago at my first law job in Charleston, South Carolina I received a faux-leather portfolio as a Christmas gift from my boss.

It was a promotional item that he picked up free at the state bar convention.

But it’s the thought that counts, right?

Well yes, as it turns out.

The average person gives 23 presents each holiday season – most of them destined to be tossed away, tucked in dark drawers or regifted.

University of Minnesota economist Joel Waldfogel, the author of “Scroogenomics,” says Americans spend $65 billion each winter on holiday gifts – much of it wasted because people don’t like what they get. He estimates that the value of the typical gift to a recipient is 20 percent lower than its cost.

Chicago attorney Cass R. Sunstein, who writes on law and behavioral economics, says we make mistakes in our gift-giving because of the “spotlight effect.” Under this phenomenon, we place too much emphasis on how other people will react to what we give them – “when it may be the mere existence of the present, rather than exactly what it is, that most matters.”

In other words – it really is the thought that counts.

It was with the “Spotlight Effect” in mind that I read a recent article from CBS MoneyWatch titled “10 Terrible Holiday Gifts from Bosses.”

On the list were such “gifts” as: a frozen turkey but no place to store it until quitting time, a two-dollar bill autographed by the boss; a coffee mug and a bill for its cost; a framed picture of the boss; wrapped rolls of toilet paper; a bronze coin minted with a profile of the boss; a Christmas party that all attendees had to pay for; hand lotion; little bags of beans.

What’s the worst – or most hilarious – gift you’ve ever gotten from a boss?

Switches, lumps of coal – please send along your comments.

Or maybe you’ve been Ebenezer Scrooge and given someone a present that really wasn’t.

Now’s your chance to get it off your chest. Use the comment section below for your confession.

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is expecting a lump of coal and switches on Christmas morning. Contact, phone 919-619-2441.

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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