Do’s and Don’ts of Holiday Gift Ideas for Employees

If you’re in charge of buying holiday gifts for your employees, you may face a seemingly insurmountable problem. You will understandably want those gifts to feel personal, but also something where you don’t have to spend a lot of time buying an individual gift for five, 10, 20 or more people. You will also want those gifts to be of high quality without spending $50 or more per item.

It’s a delicate balancing act, one that requires a lot of forethought into various considerations ranging from tangible things like price and quantity to the intangible factors of what will best convey just how valued each worker is. And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution to finding the ideal holiday gift for every employee, there are a number of do’s and don’ts to keep in mind about these purchases. Following them will help ensure you can get your message of appreciation across as clearly as possible – without breaking the bank.

10 Employee Holiday Gift Tips

The following are many of the most common issues you will likely face as you try to choose the perfect holiday gifts for your hard-working employees:

  1. Think useful first
  2. Don’t Feel like you have to go overboard
  3. Consider a touch of luxury
  4. Don’t Make it purely corporate
  5. Get creative
  6. Don’t Only give around Christmas and New Year’s
  7. Be inclusive
  8. Don’t Rely on gift cards
  9. Think outside the box
  10. Don’t Forget about Personalization
  11. Remember the Reason for Giving

Do: Think ‘useful’ first

One thing you should try very hard to avoid is that feeling of an employee opening their holiday gift, using it for a little while (or not at all) and just putting it away in a desk drawer never to be used again.

Not only does that mean they didn’t like the gift or find it useful, but it also means you wasted your money and didn’t get the proper sentiment across. To avoid this issue, one great strategy is simply choosing a gift that has a practical purpose. For instance, something to help them with desk organization at home or in the office or a set of high-quality pens could be nice choices. The same is true of a gift basket loaded with fruits or candies that are more likely to be eaten than thrown away, wine glasses to accompany a nice bottle that also comes as part of the gift, or a coffee mug that’s useful just about anywhere.

However, if you are choosing gift baskets or gift boxes for your staff, it might be wise to make sure you buy a variety of different options so that if you know one worker doesn’t like pears or dark chocolate, you don’t give that person an item loaded with them. Likewise, wine glasses aren’t a great gift for people who don’t drink.

In short, you want a practical purchase to come across as a thoughtful gift that considers the employee’s needs.

Don’t: Feel like you have to go overboard

One classic mistake that comes with employee holiday gift-giving is that supervisors want to really wow the recipients. That impulse is understandable – even commendable – but it does lead to the classic situation where the budget for such gifts runs out quickly, especially if you’re a small business that doesn’t have a lot of financial flexibility.

Fortunately, there are many opportunities to buy gifts that will go over well without spending more than $25 per item. These can range from high-end personalized tumblers that allow workers to take their chosen beverages on-the-go to functional office products that make them more productive. Even smaller items can meet the same end goal of a more expensive and lavish holiday gift: making an employee feel like a valued member of the team. That may be especially true if your gifts aren’t just being given out during the holiday season, but may be presented at various times throughout the year.

Do: Consider a touch of luxury

It’s also important to note that high-quality items aren’t out of reach just because your budget is limited. In fact, many things that can create the feeling of luxury may be obtained for relatively small amounts. For instance, few people may take the time to enjoy a nice, warm bath where they can relax for a little while, so when employer gifts encourage them to do so, they may really appreciate the opportunity they hadn’t considered.

For instance, essential oils, bath bombs, high-quality soaps and more can be purchased in bulk for relatively low prices, and come with personalized or branded carrying cases that show the more individualized thought you put into them. While not everyone has a bathtub in their homes, the mere thought could go a long way toward helping your employees feel a lot more valued in their day-to-day tasks, and if they take advantage of these products, they may also find their stress slipping away.

The same is true for the above-mentioned customized wine glasses and a nice bottle of wine, which can be a great way for people to unwind after a busy day at the office. These, too, don’t have to cost an arm and a leg to come across as a bit of a luxury and a welcome change of pace from the usual corporate holiday gift.

Don’t: Make it purely corporate

Branded gifts have become quite common in recent years and for good reason: Many people are proud of their jobs or employers and want to show off their affiliation in style. However, if something comes across as being too generic, or too promotional, the thought you put into such a present could be lost.

Put another way, if your holiday gift comes off as being more akin to a promotional product – even a nicer one – that you might have already had lying around, your employees may not like that very much.

For instance, if you just give away a cap or sweatshirt with your corporate logo on it, employees might not really appreciate them even if they do provide some utility. However, if you take that a step beyond and, perhaps, get each individual’s name printed or embroidered on those items, or otherwise make them a touch more personal, you might only be adding a small fraction to the price but making them feel priceless.

Do: Get creative

Because workers often receive the same old cookie-cutter kinds of holiday gifts many companies may give employees, those who go an extra step or two beyond those standards can really stand out. Some fun, creative ideas for holiday gift-giving usually aren’t too difficult to find, but that little bit of added effort to find something that breaks the mold can go a long way.

After all, your entire goal with holiday gifts is to make employees feel like a part of the family, becoming more engaged in their work and engendering a sense of collective power that can make the next corporate goal that much more achievable. On the other hand, if you seem to put relatively little effort into showing your appreciation for their hard work, they might not be as inclined to work hard toward that goal.

With that in mind, finding something creative that seems to more specifically the personalities of the people on your team – or your corporate culture as a whole – can go a long way toward helping you take the next step as an organization.

Don’t: Only give around Christmas and New Year’s

When companies are trying to branch out from the traditional year-end employee gift-giving so that they can help their workers feel more appreciated all year long, they may wonder, “During which holidays is it common to give employees gifts?”

The holiday season is a great time to make sure your employees receive gifts that make them feel special and valuable to the organization, but that shouldn’t be the only time of year when that happens. Other occasions, such as a birthday or the anniversary on which an employee joined the company, could be ripe for celebration as well.

However, you can even go beyond that. Any time there’s a national holiday with festive themes around it – such as Independence Day – you may find that employees like receiving a small gift to help them celebrate in style. This can also be true of Thanksgiving, which technically kicks off the holiday season, as well as Labor Day, Halloween and more.

Do: Be inclusive

When companies want to give inclusive gifts during the holidays, it’s important to remember what inclusivity means. It’s broadly understood that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but as mentioned above, there are also some employees who don’t drink alcohol or don’t enjoy coffee, so some common holiday gifts might end up being useless to them. Or, worse, they could come across as insensitive.

With that in mind, you have to truly know your employees’ likes and dislikes – or, alternatively, speak with a colleague that might know a little more intimately what people want or not want. Certainly, because these gifts are given in a good spirit and to encourage a sense of belonging and care, even a small misstep can send the wrong message and lead to upset. As with putting the right research into creative gifts, it’s also vital to ensure you’ve done your homework to be inclusive as well.

Don’t: Rely on gift cards (necessarily)

“Should employers give employees gift cards?”

As long as gift cards – and before them, gift certificates – have been available, many have asked this question. The same is true of social circles – should you give friends or family members gift cards? While it may provide little in the way of clarity, the answer is: It depends.

In some cases, employees may love gift cards for specific things, such as to a local movie theater if they’re known in the office as a film buff, or a nearby department store if they’re true fashionistas. One type of gift card that will get pretty much universal use is one for the grocery store, because people will always need food.

However, making these decisions on a case-by-case basis when you’re buying individual gifts for every employee is one thing, but it’s entirely another when you’re buying for an entire department or everyone at a small business. This is because the issue at the heart of the question about giving gift cards in the first place is whether it shows you care enough; simply put, not everyone will take a well-meaning gift like this the same way.

Do: Think outside the box

If you truly think you don’t have the budget to wow your employees this holiday season, a small gift in addition to something a little less tangible could be a great idea.

Extra days off that can be used at any time, for example, could prove to be a useful supplement to a relatively small gift because it might not cost your company much in terms of productivity overall. However, that extra day or two of paid time off it can mean the difference between a five- and seven-day vacation that helps promote a healthy work-life balance and makes employees even more productive when they come back.

There may be other ways to treat the entire office to some fun flexibility in addition to holiday gift-giving, such as hosting a holiday party, creating an early-release schedule one or more Fridays per month, increasing work-from-home options and so on.

Don’t: Forget about personalization

They’ve been alluded to above, but it’s difficult to overstate just how much employees appreciate personalized gifts more than they do generic giveaways. Again, it’s the simple act of showing employees they’re more than just a name on a payroll spreadsheet, and that they’re truly valuable to the organization. That doesn’t mean just giving gifts that are more precisely in line with what they do or are interested in – something related to football for a big sports fan, or a gift card to a local tackle shop for an avid fisherman, as examples.

It could mean something as simple as making sure everyone receives the same gift, but that this gift has their name printed or embroidered onto it, or otherwise seems to take their personal preferences into consideration.

Even if you don’t have the financial flexibility to get into that type of personalization, something as simple as including a note with every gift about how much that employee has meant to the organization in recent months or throughout the years could help people feel like they’re being recognized.

Do: Remember what it’s all about

The fact of the matter is that when you’re buying employee gifts for any holiday, there’s a specific reason behind it. That’s not just the feeling of obligation you may have – as most other companies give out holiday gifts as well – but also the fact that you truly value your employees collectively and individually.

As an added bonus, when employees feel valued, they’re also more likely to be engaged on the job, which makes them more productive and, in the end, improves your bottom line. In this way, you could consider a great holiday gift to be something that pays for itself – potentially many times over – throughout the year.

All it may take to realize that kind of value, then, is to simply put a little more effort into researching your options and determining the gift items that will go over the best for as many employees as possible. The time you put into such an effort will likely be reflected in your employee engagement and retention levels, as well as a more positive workplace culture overall.

Employee Holiday Gift Ideas

Looking for new gift and award ideas to reward your star performers?  We’re constantly adding to our product line and have got you covered with a ton of great new options.  Take a look at some of our new arrivals!

Personalized Candles

If you have a candle lover working for you, this attractive candle holder makes an ideal gift.  Featuring a glittering gold star floating above a cement base, the stock option comes bearing the message:  ‘The brightest stars shine for the benefit of others.  Thanks for all you do.’

If you prefer, you can swap this out for your own, totally custom message or logo.  It’s cute, it’s fun, and it’s sure to be appreciated.

The Making A Difference Appreciation Token

Appreciation tokens are all the rage this year, and these silver medallions are a fantastic, low-priced way to acknowledge your employees.  They come imprinted with a variety of affirmational phrases, and each is paired with a 2” x 3” note card with another message of appreciation.

The Thanks For Being Awesome Heather Lunch Bag

This stylish lunch tote is a great, low cost gift option that features a 22” carrying handle and is large enough to hold up to eight cans of the recipient’s favorite drink in its double zippered main compartment.  On the outside, you’ll find the phrase ‘Thanks for Being Awesome’ with plenty of space left over for your company’s logo.

The Ten Ounce Iridescent Stemless Flute

If one of your star performers is a wine aficionado, then this stunning 10-ounce, stemless flute is a marvelous way to show your appreciation.  Not only is it an elegant looking glass, it also comes with your choice of messages, or if you’d rather, you can brand it with your company’s logo or your own, completely personalized message.

The Blue Vortex Art Glass Award

Looking for an actual award for an upcoming ceremony?  Our new Blue Vortex design is absolutely stunning!  It’s offered in three different heights:  5,” 6.75,” or 8.5” and your choice of either a clear or blue base.

Inside the teardrop crystal body, you’ll find a one of a kind blue vortex made from blown glass.  They’re extraordinary and extraordinarily beautiful.  They are guaranteed to spark a conversation.  Best of all, there’s plenty of space to customize a message to the recipient.  This one’s not to be missed.

The Sugar Cookie Mix And Cutters Gift Set

This is a fun and fabulous gift set, perfect for anyone in your office who loves baking and the holidays.  The set includes just about everything the recipient needs to whip up a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies, including a pair of festive holiday themed cookie cutters.  A simply delightful option.

If you didn’t find exactly what you were looking for here, not to worry, there’s plenty more where these came from.  Just spend some time browsing through our full product line and you’re sure to find exactly the gift or reward you had in mind.