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What Cheap, Crappy Gift Is Your Firm Handing Out This Holiday Season?

Here's an anonymous tip that came in earlier today:

EisnerAmper thanked its employees today for an amazing year by giving each employee a choice of……………..a baseball cap, a beanie, or earmuffs.

So in a nutshell: thank you for helping the firm achieve $320+ million (+8%) in revenue. Heres a gift valued at approximately $10.

Accounting firms are kind of like that awkward relative that can't quite embrace you in a real hug. They want to show some appreciation and/or love, but it's so unnatural to them that you kinda wish they hadn't made the effort at all.

Let's take this example — three options for wearing something on your head. Suitable for winter, sure, although the baseball cap is more for eyeshade than warmth. So at the very least, this gift is somewhat useful. That's not to say it's a good gift. Not everyone wants something practical; rather they'd prefer something they like. Obviously, this doesn't mean it has to be an expensive gift. I'll take a $10 Amazon gift card any day of the week and I think most people would too. A baseball cap/beanie/earmuffs falls squarely in the "socks" category of gifts. You turn it over in your hand as if you're looking for a $20 stuffed somewhere only to realize…"This is it?" Of course if it has the firm logo on it, it's going straight in the trash, but it could come in handy. So! Do these headwear qualify as crappy? On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being "Nebraska feedlot" and 10 being "your average porta potty at a music festival," I'll put this at a 4. 

As for cheapness, let's do some arithmetic based on the facts we know and make a few assumptions.

EisnerAmper is 18th on Accounting Today's Top 100 firms, based on revenue of $284.5 million with just under 1,300 employees. We'll take our tipster's word that the new revenue number is $320 million and assume (based on nothing whatsoever) that the headcount increased ~15% to around 1,500. Let's also assume that the firm bought 1 item each for each employee for a total of 3, just to be on the safe side. And let's also go with our tipster's estimated value of $10. That's $30 per employee times 1,500 employees, putting the estimated cost around $45k. This excludes the very likely possibility that the firm got a bulk rate on each item. $45,000 is about 0.014% of the firm's revenue. So, yeah, I'd say that's pretty cheap.

However! It is not cheaper than nothing at all and I'm confident that there are firms out there whose idea of a good gift is this year's EY Tax Guide. But rather than focus on the real Scrooges, let's hear from those of you who have received something (this season or a season past) that was positively crappy, positively cheap or both.

Image: iStock/SIphotography