14 End-of-the-Year Employee Gift Ideas That Won’t Break the Budget
Giving gifts to your employees around the holidays is a great way to show your appreciation and boost office morale. As a business owner, of course, you need to balance your giving spirit with your budget. Unless you had a particularly lucrative year, you won’t want to blow hundreds of dollars per employee on flashy gifts just to say you did.
Thankfully, there are a lot of fun gifts you can get for your whole team that won’t break the bank. The trick is deciding what’s best for each employee. Everyone is different, and it’s important to take the time to get a sense of what your staff members would like. A bottle of wine won’t do much good for an employee who doesn’t drink, for example.
Once you do your research, you have two options: Find things that appeal broadly to the entire team, or set a budget and buy a different gift for each person. Either way, you don’t want to set the budget bar too low. Invest in items that last a while or go a long way. Inexpensive is one thing; cheap is another.
Need some help deciding what to buy? Here are 14 employee holiday gift ideas that won’t bust your budget:
1. Branded Winter Swag
Hats, gloves, scarves, earmuffs, face masks, sweaters: Any kind of winter clothing is a timely and thoughtful gift. Get a two-for-one by (lightly) branding the items you hand out with a company logo, and spread the word of your company every time one of your employees wears their swag out on the town.
2. Sleep Masks
Sleep is crucial for your health, and yet one in three adults don’t get enough of it on a regular basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control. This is one of several items on this list that supports the wellness of your employees. Hand out some comfortable, high-end sleep masks, and you might find it pays off in the form of a healthier workforce.
Lots of people in your office likely drink coffee, but the occasional cup of tea can help them relax at home after a long day of work. Teapots won’t take up much space in a kitchen, and they’ll act as a reminder to decompress every once in a while.
Get a fun cookbook that focuses on a particular cuisine or dish, or go all-purpose and encourage your employees to cook rather than buy lunch everyday. Consider hosting a company potluck using recipes from the book as an alternative to the standard happy hour.
5. Premium Ingredients
Another great way to encourage your employees to cook at home is to provide them with specialized or premium kitchen accoutrements. Gift employees with a set of flavored cooking oils, vinegars, spices, and/or sauces, and watch it lead to excited office conversations about what everyone made for dinner last night.
Invest in gift certificates for a local spa, a popular gym class, a yoga studio, or another experience that emphasizes health, wellness, and self-care. These sorts of experiences will help your employees get reinvigorated and ready for the new year.
7. A Extra Paid Day Off
People often jokingly — or not — say they’d like cash or more time off as a gift from their workplace. It won’t break your bank to give people an extra day off to be used after the holidays. Help your employees create mini-vacations to get themselves through the doldrums of January.
8. Bonsai Trees
A bonsai tree or other small plant is a great way to add a splash of nature and color to the office. Just looking at trees reduces stress and improves mood, so this is another win-win for you and your workers.
9. Reusable Water Bottles
Here’s another item that promotes wellness as well as sustainable environmental practices. A sleek, well-made reusable water bottle (with or without company branding) is both trendy and useful. Plus, you’ll spend less on disposable water-cooler cups throughout the year.
10. Mindfulness Coloring Books
Adult coloring books have made a big splash in the wellness and mindfulness communities recently. Your employees might find peace in the simple of act of coloring in between the lines. Consider including some colored pencils or crayons as well. No one wants to color with their office highlighter.
11. Smartphone Speakers
Pass along a powerful gift employees can use in the office, at home, at the beach, on road trips, or anywhere else they might go. An alternative is to splurge on a single Bluetooth speaker set for your whole team that can be used throughout the office.
12. Noise-Canceling Headphones
We’re starting to get into pricier territory here, but if your office is noisy and employees often complain of not being able to focus, noise-canceling headphones can help them escape into their own worlds and get in the zone, even in the middle of a busy office.
A quality Moleskine or other notebook is bound to be a hit with employees, who can use it to record notes in meetings, journal their thoughts, doodle, or just express themselves. You can also brand or personalize these for an extra flourish.
One of the great frustrations in life is not knowing where your keys, phone, or wallet is when you need to leave the house. A Tile can be attached to any item that gets lost frequently and connected to a phone app for easy locating. Your employees can never claim lost keys as their reason for being late again.
All of these items are relatively affordable while still showing appropriate thoughtfulness and care. Just be sure to discuss the specifics with your accountant or financial advisor to make sure these gifts won’t cause you any headaches. Present your gifts at the company holiday party and send your team into next year happy and grateful to work with you.
Jared Hecht is the cofounder and CEO of Fundera.