The summer is ending and fall is just around the corner. Before we know it, the holidays will be here and there is a good chance many of you are going to be scrambling to identify this year’s employee holiday gift.
A gift from the boss or the organization is a thoughtful touch that makes your team feel appreciated. But what to get that’s memorable, useful, and affordable (and won’t get tossed in the trash the minute the employee gets home)?
We have compiled a few tips to help you get your planning started and this year, avoid the last minute crunch.
Set Your Budget
There is no point starting to look at gifts until you know exactly how much you want to spend.
Choose quality gifts
Remember, a good gift is an important tool in building your relationship and image in the eyes of both new and tenured employees. Planning early ensures that you can purchase good quality gifts before suppliers inventories are depleted. Give a gift you are proud of and one that you would like to receive yourself. You want your gift to be something that your employees are talking about – in a good way!
If you gave everyone $500 cash gifts last year, but this year’s holiday gift is a free ham, your gift will inspire more rage than gratitude (this actually happened at a place I formerly worked). Choose a price range for your gifts that’s reasonable for your business and one you can stick to in the coming years even if your budget gets tighter.
Remember a Corporate Christmas gift is a reflection of your brand and of your relationship to whom you are giving the gift to,
Understand tax guidelines
You can deduct the full amount of a business gift up to $25 in value. (Personalization, such as having the gift engraved or embossed, and gift-wrapping don’t count toward that amount.) The IRS has different guidelines around gift cards; it’s a good idea to consult your accountant about the tax implications of giving these. Keeping employee gifts under $25 ensures everyone feels treated fairly and also minimizes costs.
Here are 10 ideas for employee gifts:
1. Office décor
Small plants that are suitable for displaying on a desk, picture frames, pencil holders, or perpetual calendars are all gifts that just about any employee will appreciate.
2. Office tools
Think about things employees use every day and how to make them more enjoyable. For instance, a good-quality pen—especially an engraved one—will get lots of use. Personalized notepads or humorous sticky notes also make good gifts.
3. Travel accessories
Do you have employees who frequently travel on business? They’ll appreciate gifts like embossed luggage tags, travel charging kits for their electronic devices, travel pillows, or pashmina throws for chilly airplanes.
Got employees who can’t live without caffeine? Give a personalized coffee mug, a sturdy travel mug or a plug-in coffee warmer for the desk. You can also give gourmet coffee beans (or tea, if that’s what your employee prefers). Depending on your office culture and your employees’ tastes, a nice bottle of wine can also make a good gift—just make sure the employee in question drinks alcohol.
5. Comfort factor
Do you have one of those offices where people are always fighting over the thermostat? Get the employee who’s always cold a pair of fingerless gloves, a cozy scarf, or a shawl.
6. Sound advice
Open-plan offices or close-together cubicles can make for a noisy workplace. A comfortable pair of headphones so employees can listen to music, or a white noise machine small enough for the desktop are thoughtful gifts.
7. The main event
Just about every employee appreciates passes to a local movie theater chain. You can also give gift cards for local sports teams, cultural centers, or entertainment venues you know an employee likes.
8. Hobby-related gifts
If you know your employees well, consider a gift to help them enjoy a hobby, such as gardening tools, cooking gear, or golf accessories.
9. Eat it up
You really can’t go wrong giving food as a gift. Don’t get too esoteric—focus on foods most people either enjoy themselves or can share with others. For example, a gift basket of fresh fruit, gourmet cheeses, cookies, or specialty chocolate is always a hit.
10. Avoid Cash
Money matters and the vast majority of people want more of it. But in the workplace, there is more to happiness than money. The studies prove it. Cash is perceived as income, and a well thought out and meaningful gift conveys the message that you cared enough to put effort into selecting that gift.
No matter what type of gift you give, the key is to take it up a notch. A small gift of the best quality is more memorable than something mediocre. Make the presentation memorable by springing for professional gift-wrapping. Finally, give a handwritten note with every gift, thanking the employee for their hard work this year—and be sure to be specific.