Leadership & Strategy | December 5, 2016

Employee Gifts That Are Not a Fruitcake
Christmas fruitcake

Is the dreaded question you ask yourself each holiday, “What do I buy for my employees?” Here’s a tip: don’t give them a fruitcake. Nobody deserves that. This year, give them more personalized employee gifts to show how treasured they are as team members and as individuals. Here are some of our favorite ideas.

Money or Benefits

Many employees would rather have a cash Christmas bonus than any other gift. However, that may not be possible for you depending on the number of employees you have, your gifting budget, and how well the fiscal year has gone. Employees also appreciate benefits such as paid time off, especially during Thanksgiving and Christmas, or an extra personal day.

Treasured Trinkets

A lot of people love tech gadgets or other useful items such as:

  • smart watches
  • ear buds
  • phone cases
  • coffee mugs
  • books

Book tip: make sure you know what subjects interest your employee. If you’re Facebook friends, you can do a bit of investigating there. Maybe you’ve noticed your employee wants to visit Paris? A nice coffee-table book about the City of Light would make a thoughtful gift.

Gift Cards

Gift cards may seem impersonal, but they don’t have to be. When deciding where to get them from, take into consideration such things as where your employees like to eat, whether they have young children at home, or if they seem stressed lately.

Once you’ve got a handle on what they might like, think about gift cards for things like:

  • Restaurants – Overworked employees and new parents will especially enjoy this perk!
  • Local outings – A night of bowling, a sports event, or a movie might be activities the whole family will enjoy.
  • Spas

Make It Personal: Add a Note

It’s always nice to add a personal touch in the form of a note card. Make the note simple and sweet—avoid writing anything that could be taken the wrong way. If, for instance, you give an employee a tie, you probably don’t want to write: “I thought this tie would bring out your dazzling blue eyes and smile.” While it might be perfectly innocent, a comment like that could cross a line, offending or confusing your employee.

Whatever you write, be sure to remind your employees what great assets they are to your team. If you’ve decided to give a gift certificate to a spa, for example, you might want to end your note, “Relax and enjoy. You deserve it after keeping our office running smoothly all year long!”

I’m Still Stumped!

If you’re still having a hard time picking the best gifts, try these ways to figure out what to get:

  • Have lunch with your employees and try to steer the conversation to get clues.
  • Pay attention to conversations around the office.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Are many struggling to balance work/life issues? If their salaries were cut this past year, what might benefit their family the most? What outings or activities might lift their spirits?

If many of your employees are new hires or have varied interests, consider purchasing cards for stores—either brick and mortar or online—that sell food and general merchandise (Target, Amazon, Starbucks). They’ll surely find something that they want or need. And don’t forget that personalized note!

Agonizing over employee gift choices can sap your holiday spirit. Be observant, and the perfect gift choices will become clear.

Make It Last

You only give Christmas gifts once a year. Improve your team dynamic all year long with these tips on engaging your team.