Bumbling burglars unwittingly stole dummy Christmas presents containing nothing but air, from under a tree.
The thieves caused £300 damage breaking into offices belonging to South Hams District Council in Devon.
The wrapped empty boxes were laid out as part of the decorations under the council's Christmas tree.
It was "a despicable act that would make Scrooge blush", said a council spokesman. The thieves also took three bottles of wine intended as gifts.
"Unfortunately for the bumbling burglars, the stash of neatly wrapped parcels were for decoration only and contained nothing more than Devon fresh air.
"This was a callous act from an individual, or a group of people, who have little regard for anything other than themselves," said the spokesman.
He said it was fortunate the damage was minimal and the stolen items could be easily replaced.
Police have begun investigating the break-in during which windows to the chairman's office in Follaton House in Totnes were damaged.