Free Holiday “Gift” Ideas for Employees


We’re approaching holiday season, and the pressure to buy, buy, buy is everywhere – and those gift-giving expectations can be stressful for employers. While we all know that the holiday season isn’t about the presents, your team works hard for you all year, and it just feels right to show your appreciation for everything they do.

Here are 20 unique ways to give your employees a gift that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

For many small businesses or non-profits, pricey gifts for employees just aren’t in the budget. That’s where a bit of creativity, some authenticity, and a few minutes of your time can go a long way towards creating a joyful and triumphant workplace over the winter months. Can’t afford to hand out cash bonuses but still want to pass some warm fuzzy feelings around?

Here are 20 unique ways to give your employees a gift that won’t cost you an arm and a leg (and they’ll work year-round):

  1. Take on their least-favourite task for a day (or a week if you’re feeling extra generous).
  2. Leave a Scratch and Win ticket on their desk.
  3. Bring in a crock pot and mull hot apple cider.
  4. Buy them a book (or re-gift one of yours you know they’d enjoy).
  5. Let them bring their pet to work.
  6. Team member working long hours? Send their spouse a thank you note.
  7. Provide a range of snacks for the break room.
  8. Put a personal shout-out in the company newsletter.
  9. Give them a “Day Off Pass” to prep for the holidays.
  10. Throw a team office-decorating party and make your workplace look festive. Bring cake.
  11. Relax your dress code and have some impromptu dress-down days.
  12. Let them leave early on the Friday before Christmas.
  13. Bring in a massage therapist for chair massages.
  14. Put a hand-written thank you Post-it on their monitor.
  15. Double their lunch break.
  16. Roll up your sleeves, and help them finish up a project.
  17. Buy them a plant for their desk (Tip: pick one that’s hard to kill).
  18. Chocolate.
  19. Pay for a babysitter for a night out.
  20. Sponsor a child in a developing country, endangered animal, grassroots project, charity event, etc. in your employees’ names.

Your Engaged Assignment: Stumped for ways to reward your employees this year? Print out the list above and pick a few that will work in your organization. A little effort on your part will help keep spirits bright and make employees feel appreciated during the darkest months of the year!