Ninety-six percent of workers prefer bonus over party

There's no party like a workplace holiday party, because workplace holiday parties"_get awkward. CareerBuilder's annual holiday survey asked workers to share the most unusual gifts they've received from a coworker during the holiday season.

While many gift-bearing workers stick to more traditional holiday offerings, such as ornaments, candy, and gift baskets, others get a little more creative:

  • A box of Hot Pockets.
  • A chess piece (just one piece, not a set).
  • A fire extinguisher.
  • A voucher for a free lawn game of the coworker's own invention.
  • A turquoise leather vest.
  • Zombie action figures.
  • A Ziploc bag with coffee (enough to make one pot).
  • A 'gun of the day' calendar.
  • A bag of chips.
  • A Christmas ornament with the coworker's and spouse's photos on it.

The national survey, conducted online by Harris Poll from __Aug. 11 to Sept. 5, 2014, included a representative sample of 3,103 workers and 2,203 hiring managers and human resource professionals across industries and company sizes.

Twenty-one percent of workers say they plan to buy holiday gifts for coworkers (similar to last year, 22%), and nearly the same number (20%) plan to buy a gift for the boss. Of those who plan to buy gifts for their coworkers or bosses, the majority (76%) expect to spend $25 or less on each gift, 33% will spend $10 or less, and 10% will spend $5 or less.

More Employers Getting Into the Holiday Spirit

Employees aren't the only ones in the giving spirit this year. According to the survey, more employers plan to offer holiday perks in the form of parties, bonuses, and gifts this year than in years' past.

Parties: Sixty-three percent of employers say they plan to throw company holiday parties this year, up from 59% in 2013 and 60% in 2012. Though two in five workers say they plan to attend the office holiday party, the overwhelming majority (96%) say they would prefer a holiday bonus over a company bash (4%).

Bonuses: Some employees, however, may get their bonus wish after all. Nearly half of employers (47%) plan to give employees a holiday bonus this year, up from 45% in 2013. More than one in 10 employers say they will give a larger bonus than last year (11%).

Gifts: Employers' seasonal goodwill doesn't stop at parties and bonuses, either. Forty percent of employers (40%) will give employees gifts this year (up from 35% in 2013), and 42% will give charitable donations.