March 28, 2023

The 12 Best Employee Gift Ideas

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They say it’s better to give than to receive, so let’s get giving. You may think, “sure, gifts are great, but do I really need to give them to my employees? Aren’t a paycheck and benefits gift enough?” Some employees may be satisfied with that alone. But one study showed that nearly 45 percent of employees feel like the gifts they receive at work are a reflection of their value at a company. A lackluster gift can make your employees feel unappreciated, but don’t worry, this guide will help you choose a gift that shows how much you care.  

Should Managers Give Gifts to Employees?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is yes, and here are some of the occasions where you can give gifts:

Holidays. Start with the main holidays—generally the holidays at the end of the year are a good place to start. You can also celebrate people’s birthdays, your company’s birthday, and other holidays that fit in with your company culture.

Work anniversaries. These are great to celebrate because, just like in any other relationship, it’s good to take time to appreciate the time you’ve spent together. Treat it like the special occasion that it is.

Company-wide celebrations. Celebrate when you hit a big goal as a team, celebrate the birthday of the company, celebrate big announcements, celebrate when you rebrand, etc.

Employee Appreciation Day. It’s on the first Friday in March. Put it on your calendar.

Life events. You can celebrate the personal events in an employee’s life like a wedding, graduation, having a baby, adopting, etc.

Just Because Gift

Achieving specific goals as individuals or a team. When you get a gift for hitting a goal, that’s also known as a reward. Employee rewards can be very motivating.

Just because! Surprise gifts are often the best gifts. Since you’re recognizing and appreciating your employees every day, there is no wrong day to give a gift. 

What Are Good Gifts to Give Employees?

Corporate gifts have a reputation for being boring or unoriginal, but they don’t have to be. A good gift is thoughtful, creative, or fun. You get bonus points if you manage to give a gift that is more than one of those things. 

Meaningful gifts. A gift will be more meaningful if it shows that you know your employees well. This is a gift in and of itself. It can be a small gift. For example, if you get someone their favorite flower or food, it shows you listen to the things they say and care about them as a person.

Funny gifts. You have to be careful with this one because not everyone has the same sense of humor, but carefully chosen fun gifts are memorable. Is there a part of someone’s job that isn’t that glamorous, like taking out the trash or dealing with difficult clients? You can get them a joke gift like a nose plug or a sign that says, “Please leave me alone.” Once again, knowing your employees helps because you will know what kinds of things they think are funny. 

Gift Box with Tickets

Experiences as gifts. Not everyone wants more stuff. Many people throw the gift away or re-gift the items they’re given at work. In our own experience, one of our clients told us that 50% of their retiring employees leave their acrylic service awards behind! But you know what people can’t regift? A weekend getaway. You could also pay for an online course (or a portion of their school), sponsor their hobby, give tickets to an event, etc.

Edible gifts. Food can be a great gift. As long as you're conscious of allergies and dietary restrictions, it's usually a hit because, well, everyone has to eat (and most people like a good culinary experience). Some examples of edible gifts are Starbucks gift cards (or another coffee shop), catered lunch in the office, or gift baskets (more on that later). 

What About the Holidays?

While you may not want to call them “Christmas gifts,” the end of the year is a great time to give something extra to your employees. There are lots of ways to celebrate the end of the year around the office, but it is traditionally a time to give gifts. Rewarding your employees with something at the end of the year is not only appropriate, it’s likely expected. 

Should You Get Your Employees Christmas Gifts?

Giving a gift at the end of the year can be a great idea, but you should try and think beyond the usual gifts. Let’s break down some of the most typical holiday gift ideas to see if they’re tired cliches or timeless classics. 

A fleece blanket. There are two kinds of people: the people who think you can never have too many blankets and the people who don’t need another monogrammed blanket from their workplace. Verdict? This one may be controversial, but we say a nice blanket will probably be a crowd pleaser.

Wine, Cheese, Bread

A gift basket. There is the cliche holiday gift basket that has meats, cheese, olive oil, chocolate...I’m getting hungry just typing about it…Verdict? Depends how hungry your people are, but chances are good they’ll like a gift basket of some kind. A bonus to anything edible as it is way less likely to end up donated or in a landfill. We love eco-friendly gifts. 

Mugs and water bottles. Many people will say they have enough mugs, but there are other beverage containers that are popular. Try giving your employees an insulated tumbler or mug from a brand that has a reputation for quality. You can even add your company logo to them if you want. Verdict? Don’t get them a generic mug, but there are many other options for cups that are popular. 

A ham. Not everyone likes ham. Verdict? If you’re offering hams, offer another option as well. 

Is Company Swag a Good Gift?

Company swag can be a great gift. It can build up a sense of team pride. Some things to remember with swag:

Get the right size. The easiest way to do this is to ask. You can send out a Google Form to collect accurate information. If possible, include a sizing chart of the item you’re ordering. Every body is different, and it’s nice to get something that actually fits.

Yellow Jacket

Make it quality. Some of us have drawers full of t-shirts. Which ones do you reach for? The ones that are soft and fit well. If they aren’t high quality, they’re going to end up at the local thrift store and no one there wants to rep your brand.

Give them company swag that isn’t too swaggy. Most people like to rep the company they work for, but don’t get them a super nice jacket and then plaster a giant logo on it. Consider designing swag with something other than just your company name on it to mix it up or do variations on your logo.

Let them choose. With Awardco, you can create a company store where employees can choose the swag they want. Just give them points in the swag category and they can buy a jacket, hat, bag, water bottle, blanket, or whatever they want.

Whether you’re celebrating the end of the year or rewarding amazing work, giving gifts is a great way to show your employees that you care. You can give them swag, a gift basket, or a gift card, just make sure it’s something that they’ll appreciate and use. Refer to the tips above when you need help. Let’s get giving! 

Don’t forget that with Awardco you can set up rewards programs and automate your annual gift-giving to make it easier than ever!