23 thoughtful holiday and appreciation gifts for employees

by Andy Nguyen
Gifts for employees

Giving your employees generic ‘thank you’ cards during the holiday season is a thing of the past. Instead, today, organizations give employees thoughtful gifts to appreciate them for their hard work.

However, searching for the best gifts for employees can be a little intimidating. 

You may be confused about the budget, the kind of gift, its usefulness, etc.

Don’t worry. 

In this article, we’ll highlight 23 employee appreciation gift ideas to help you choose the perfect one for your team members. We’ll also discuss why you should gift your employees as well as the dos and don’t of gifting.

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23 incredible gifts for employees

Here are some fun and thoughtful corporate gift ideas that’ll bring a smile to your employees’ faces this holiday season.

1. Gift cards

If you’re unsure what your employees might love, you can always surprise them with gift cards. This’ll allow them to buy anything they need without you having to break a sweat. 

You can give gift cards that host various retail shops, restaurants, clubs, etc., so they can choose how to redeem them. Or you can give a gift card from a specific outlet like Amazon. 

Another great option is the ‘experience gift card’ for stays at hotels, wellness centers, spas, etc.

2. Stainless steel water bottle

Stainless steel water bottles or tumblers are a great gift that’ll remind your employees to stay hydrated. 

With these bottles and tumblers, employees won’t have to interrupt their work with multiple trips to the kitchen for a glass of water. 

A stainless steel bottle will also come in handy during holiday travels. Most importantly, they’ll have a better alternative to plastic bottled water, saving the environment. 

3. Office essentials

An office essentials gift set includes cardholders, wireless chargers, desk fans, pen drives, sticky notes – anything that would make your employees’ work easier and the workspace decluttered.

You can also customize this to suit the needs of your remote employees working from home offices. It’ll help them stay connected to the organization and provide them with a sense of belonging.

4. Subscriptions

You can give your employees an annual or half-yearly subscription to their favorite streaming platforms as a Christmas gift. This way, they can enjoy movies and shows with their family and friends.

Other subscription ideas can include magazines, newsletters, music platforms, or even journals.

5. Event tickets

Show your appreciation by giving your employees tickets to concerts, new year parties, sports events, stand-up comedy shows, etc. Some of these events are economical as they offer corporate discounts on tickets if you buy in bulk.

If you have a remote team, gift them tickets to virtual concerts or other events. 

6. Therapy dough

A stress-free work environment is essential for productivity. So your holiday gift this year can be therapy doughs to help your employees de-stress. 

A therapy dough lets them punch and squeeze their frustrations into the dough. 

Moreover, some therapy doughs come with the advantage of aromatherapy, fused with essence like lavender, eucalyptus, etc. The aromas can have a calming effect on your employees.

7. Box of fine chocolates

Surprise your employee with a gift box of premium chocolates that they can enjoy with their family.  

You can also create a well-decorated holiday gift hamper of fine chocolates and add other chocolate-flavored items like popcorn, cookies, etc.

8. Reusable tote bags

Tote bags are probably one of the many useful gifts for employees. They can carry their laptops and other files or use them for holiday gift shopping. 

Additionally, you can personalize these with quotes, designs, or even your company logo.

9. Face masks

A pack of face masks can be a good employee appreciation gift to keep them safe during the holidays amidst the pandemic. You can also customize the masks with unique designs or funny text.

10. E-learning courses

Free e-learning courses are a great gift to give your work-from-home employees. They can now take on new hobbies or upgrade their professional skills. 

For example, your software developer may be interested in taking a course in cyber security to develop better-secured systems. At the same time, your accountant might want to learn a new art form. 

Either way, this is a unique gift that lets us personalize according to what the employee wants. 

11. Picture frames

Picture frames are a perfect employee gift that will make a great addition to their desks. 

Employees can add pictures of their loved ones, inspirational quotes, or other creative things. 

You can also give a digital photo frame so they can view multiple pictures in one frame.

When employees personalize their workspaces with things like pictures of loved ones, it creates a positive work environment.    

12. Family board games

Holidays are around the corner, and your employees will be spending time with their families and loved ones. 

Make their holidays more enjoyable by surprising them with board games like monopoly, puzzles, etc.

13. Office furniture

A thoughtful employee gift you can give is to make their workplace more comfortable.

This holiday season, surprise your employees by upgrading their furniture. For example, you can upgrade their office chairs to high-quality, comfortable ones. This way, your employees will no longer suffer from backaches and uncomfortable seatings. 

You can also give them desk risers to adjust their office tables to a comfortable height for work. 

These would be the perfect presents for your remote employees too. Office furniture can help them work comfortably from home without having to spend a dime!

14. Noise canceling headphones

Your employees can dodge distracting noises and concentrate on work truly with noise-canceling headphones. 

Some models come with microphones and Bluetooth that’ll allow your employees to attend Zoom meetings, listen to songs, and even talk without the restraint of wires. 

This is also a practical gift idea for work-from-home employees, who might find it difficult to focus from home or are in need of good headphones for remote meetings.

15. Desktop vacuum cleaner

This holiday season, surprise your employees with a desktop vacuum cleaner. It’ll help your employees clean dust, pets’ hair, paper, etc., from their workstations, desks, and laptops.

As they come in small sizes, they’re easy to store as well.  

16. Succulents and other indoor plants

Make your employees’ holidays a little greener by giving them indoor plants. Plants like succulents help improve air quality.  

Also, your employees wouldn’t have to go out of their way to take care of it as they require very little attention. 

17. Neck pillow

Long hours of sitting in front of a screen could lead to muscle aches in the neck and spine. 

You can show employee appreciation by gifting a neck pillow for support to ease the discomfort. 

It might come in handy sooner than you think if they decide to travel during the holidays. 

18. Personalized coffee mug warmer

Coffee mugs are one of the usuals of corporate gifts. But this year, you can take it up a notch by giving them a coffee mug warmer. 

It’ll keep your employees’ coffee hot and fresh for a long time. 

19. Self-care gift box

A self-care employee appreciation gift box can include sanitizer, sheet masks, shower gels, bath bombs, essential oils, etc. 

The key to efficient productivity is a well-rested workforce. So give your employees this appreciation gift as a reminder to relax after a busy workday. 

This gift box is also great for remote workers to de-stress from the comfort of their homes.

20. Assorted goodies

These gift baskets will include delicious baked goods like macaroons, doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies, etc., to appease your employees’ sweet tooth.

In the spirit of the holidays, you can always add goodies like cinnamon-based cookies, plum cakes, along with assorted coffee, soft drinks, and a bottle of wine.

Tip: You can source it from a small business specializing in DIY gift baskets. 

21. Box of scented candles

Surprise your employee with a gift box of scented candles – one of the best gifts of the season.

When infused with scents of peppermint, apples, lemons, etc., these aromatic candles help ease stress, improve mood, and enhance focus.

22. Personalized t-shirts

There’s no gift idea that’s more fun than personalized t-shirts with fun quotes or quirky designs. If you plan on throwing a New Year party, you can personalize these t-shirts to suit the theme, and employees can wear them to the party.

Likewise, you can arrange similar t-shirts for your remote employees by allotting them a bonus. You can then ask them to wear their special t-shirts to a virtual happy hour for a bonding session with the team. This, in turn, will increase employee engagement. 

23. Charity

Some of your employees may want to contribute to charity, especially during the holidays. But certain responsibilities may hold them back from contributing like they would love to.

You can help them by donating in their name or giving them pre-paid vouchers, gift cards, or a gift certificate, allowing them to choose where to donate. This way, you’ll help make their holiday more cherishable and meaningful.

Now, let’s check out some pointers to choose an ideal employee gift without a hassle. 

The dos and don’ts of gifting your remote employees

Before you decide on  the presents to show your appreciation, here are some things you should keep in mind:

a. Dos of gifting employees

Here’s everything you should do consider to find the perfect gift:

1. Keep your budget in check 

It’s never ideal to have an open budget for an employee holiday gift. 

So chalk down a budget, especially if you have a large workforce.

The goal here isn’t to find cheap corporate gifting items but to give out impactful employee appreciation gifts that are inexpensive.

2. Personalize your gifts

A good personalized gift like an engraved pen or notebook will speak volumes and make an impact on your employees. It makes employees feel cared for.

Along with personalization, being practical is essential too. 

Gifting something of no use is a waste of your time, money, and gesture. For example, giving a company diary every year that no one uses is as good as giving no gift at all.

However, personalizing appreciation gifts doesn’t have to mean something very grand. Instead, it can be something as simple as a handwritten note or a thank you from you.

3. Maintain standard gift-giving etiquette

Remember, you should steer clear of generic gift ideas that aren’t useful to the receiver. With that said, your gifts shouldn’t embarrass them either. 

Even when you look for a meaningful, personal gift, ensure it’s right for the formal work environment and your coworker.

To avoid creating a negative work environment, treat all your employees equally. No one should feel under-appreciated or treated unfairly. 

4. Gift sustainably

Always try to include reusable, recyclable, and sustainable gifts. These can range from stainless steel water bottles to notebooks made of recycled paper. 

This way you’ll give them a valuable holiday gift as well as a responsible one.

b. Don’ts of gifting employees

Here are some things to avoid while gifting your employees.

1. Don’t procrastinate

Although it may sound trivial, planning and buying gifts take considerable time. If you wait till the last minute to go gift shopping, you may not find what you’re looking for because of the holiday rush.

So, make sure you begin well in advance for a successful gesture.

2. Don’t overthink

Just because personalized gifts are the best, you shouldn’t overthink and stress yourself about it. 

If you can’t think of anything personal or unique, you can always stick with classic gifts like customizable office supplies. 

Remember, the most important thing is that you appreciate your employees’ hard work. So as long as you give them something practical, they’ll love it because it’s the gesture that matters.        

3. Don’t make it a promotional act

Ensure that your holiday gifts don’t end up being promotional activities. 

Naturally, you would be inclined to add your company name and logo. A small print is alright. But the problem arises when the promotion is the only motive behind your gifts. 

So, ensure your gift isn’t all about your company name.

Not really sure why it’s important to give gifts to your employees? 

Let’s find out.

Why is gifting your employee important?

A corporate gift shows that you notice and appreciate the work an employee does for your company. Here are some more reasons why it’s important to do so:

  • Gifting with significance boosts employee morale, which helps create a happy workspace. Of course, you can always send in a thank you email. But, it wouldn’t have the same effect as a well-meant gift.

Moreover, this will create a healthy work culture, attracting potential good employees who would want to work for you. 

  • Sometimes there’s a considerable distance between different departments and hierarchies. A thoughtful gift can do wonders to bridge that gap and bring out a sense of community among employees.
  • Employee retention is an often overlooked but vital part of your business. There’s nothing more tiring than training new employees every few months. 

Acknowledging their efforts through holiday gifts will make them feel happy and valued. Such employees tend to continue working for your company. 

Wrapping up

Your employees are critical to building your organization. 

So it’s important to give appreciation gifts to recognize their hard work. 

If you’re confused, the ones we covered above are some of the best gift options to take a cue for this holiday season. Pick one or more thoughtful gifts from our list to appreciate your employees and add an extra cheer this holiday season.

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