It’s time to think about Christmas gifts for employees, because Christmas will be here before you know it. Whether you’re counting sleeps until the 25th, or trying to figure out what to do, it’s coming all the same. And with Christmas comes the expectation you’ll organise some Christmas gifts for employees.
So, just for you, we’ve got 25 great staff Christmas gift ideas that won’t find their way to the bin or end up re-gifted to someone’s least favourite cousin. And, for a special treat, five really bad ideas you need to avoid at all costs.
Simple and easy to combine with a thank-you note, vouchers are can be unfairly called a ‘lazy’ option. But the reality is that the only laziness is in presentation.
Put some effort in and make a fanfare of the occasion. Give your staff a few ideas on how they can use them, drive home the excitement, and make a fuss of all the choice the vouchers offer.
2. Gift cards
Gift cards function almost exactly like a voucher, but with some key advantages.
You can get them branded to your company’s look so they’ll be more effective at generating gratitude. They also often come with an online option. That could be direct online spending, or an online exchange to trade the funds for another selection of gifts.
3. Wine tasting at home
For plenty of our staff, a bottle of wine over Zoom with friends and family has become a weekly staple. One way to keep it fresh is to try some new wines (or beers!) together. Companies like Laithwaites and Virgin Wines offer at-home delivery services that make it possible to sort out some casual wine-tasting at home.
4. A big night in
With so many of us making the most of the great indoors since lockdown, we’re noticing a few more charges from Just Eat and Uber Eats on the monthly bank statement. A family-sized voucher or gift card for a home delivery service gives your staff one big guilt-free night in.
5. Friday night bingo, or a quiz
Normally you’d have a big Christmas party at the end of the year, but as we know now, that’s off the table. Most of the clients we’re talking to are cancelling their Christmas do, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a little event. It won’t be the same as a big do, but a big end-of-year company quiz with some big prizes would be just the thing. Get everyone together, have some fun, and take the chance to thank everyone for their work through the year.
6. Active gifts
Something for the lockdown fitness promise that became a New Year’s Resolution. Whether it’s a new bike, running gear, or yoga equipment, there’s plenty out there for the people trying to make a change in 2021. There’s no better way to give them a head start on their goals than gifting them a leg-up with the right gear. Halfords and Sports Direct make it easy for someone pick up gear for cycling, running, football and more at reasonable prices.
7. Wholesaler memberships
A membership to a wholesaler like Costco could save staff an enormous amount of money on bulk household items. Litres of toothpaste isn’t exactly a ‘Christmas-y’ thought, but your employees with families will be grateful. Especially during the winter seasons when they’re entertaining a houseful of guests. They make helpful and well received christmas gifts for employees.
8. Special coffee or tea mugs
The UK drinks more than 60 billion cups of tea every year. That’s more than enough cause to know special mugs make a great gift.
Reward codes are sent over sms or email, then redeemed online. They make more sense than gift cards or vouchers for more “online” staff.
To give them a more personal touch, spruce the delivery up with personal messages of appreciation.
The Christmas period is hectic, and with so much uncertainty this year that’s not going to change. The cash might not be there to fork out for a load of gifts for staff, but just being flexible with hours during the festive period could be as welcome as a fancy bottle of wine.
11. Tote bags
We all want to make less waste, but that means lugging more containers about with us.
Rucksacks aren’t always a chic choice, but totes are. A quality sustainable fibre tote is a great gift for someone sick of dragging a tatty Bag for Life around.
12. Great books
Books are often a byword for boring gifts. But that’s because they’re often just the latest vapid celebrity biography, or a tenuous link to a hobby.
Put some time and thought into a good book and it will be a fantastic gift. it shows not just that you’ve thought about someone, but that you actually know them well enough to pick them out a great book.
13. Luxury gift cards
We have already mentioned gift cards. But special gift cards for high-end shops like M&S or John Lewis are different.
Even the most dour employee can find something delightful with a luxury gift card. Only being able to get something luxurious makes them great Christmas gifts for employees.
For some employees, offering your heartfelt thanks would go much further than any cash-value item. Knowing their efforts are valued and noticed as they head into a Christmas break does as much for morale as rewards might.
15. DIY vouchers
Spending more time at home means spending more time with those little jobs we never quite get around to doing. Things that you used to be able to ignore, but now you’re looking at them all day you can’t get them out of your head.
That door that doesn’t close quite right, that broken fence panel, or that patch of unpainted plaster slowly driving you crazy. Gifting vouchers or gift cards to places like B&Q, Homesense, Wickes is just the thing to help them get those little jobs sorted out over their Christmas break.
16. Donation to a charity
You really need to know the room before making a call like this. People might feel let down, or maybe even a bit patronised.
But if you look at the office and can’t imagine what to get for your socially-conscious millennials, a donation works. As long as it speaks to a cause they’re invested in – which means knowing them well enough to make the call.
17. Custom print cushions, pillows or luggage
Submit someone’s picture, or maybe a picture of their pet, and it becomes a print of the item. That could be pillows or cushions.
But the best is luggage – there’s no debating who a suitcase belongs to when your face is all over it.
18. Wireless shower speakers
Ideal for anyone that really can’t go a minute without a bit of stimulation. Not even for the duration of a shower. Also ideal for an employee that likes a long soak in the bath with a good podcast.
19. Pocket-friendly powerbanks
Always running out of charge is annoying, but so is carrying around a giant power bar all day.
A pocket-friendly power pack helps your electrically-challenged employees stay online. Without taking an unwieldly battery everywhere.
20. Multi-tools for outdoorsy types
Our outdoors types love a multi-tool. Especially the specialised ones for cyclists, climbers, woodsmen and more.
Depending on what your staff get up to in the outdoors, there’s a quality multi-tool out there.
21. Slippers for indoorsy types
Our indoors types, by contrast, love a good pair of comfortable slippers. Everyone loves a really comfortable pair of slippers for those cold nights in.
22. Infusion water bottles
Supplying staff with their own refillable, non-toxic bottles benefits you and your staff. They cut down on waste, saving money on disposable cups, and they help staff stay hydrated during the work day. Infusion bottles also let staff stick a bit of citrus fruit of a tea bag in for a healthy flavoured drink.
23. Speciality coffees
Caffeine is an essential office supply. A specialty coffee selection is a great gift for anyone that always says “yes” when the barista offers them the special blend.
24. Streaming services
Not unlike the Just Eat and Deliveroo charges piling up, the standing orders for streaming services are adding up as well. It would be a nice gesture to help keep your staff entertained while they’re at home.
25. Adult learning classes
For someone that’s always wanted to speak Spanish. Or wishes they knew how to paint with oils or create pottery.
They’re fun and personal. And they let your staff do something personally fulfilling and enriching outside their work.
[Edit this to include that there’s loads of time at home now]
Five Christmas gifts for employees to avoid at all costs
It’s the thought that counts, unless you’re thinking about really bad gift ideas. Or even worse, if you don’t think about someone at all. Steer clear of this stuff if you want good Christmas gifts.
1. Being forgotten
Forgetting to buy some employees gifts is a miniature morale crisis. That goes double if they’re remote or mobile. They’ll already have their guard up about not being in the office, and being forgotten amplifies that feeling.
Old reliable, and reliably boring. No one hates having more money, but cash doesn’t make a great Christmas gift for employees. Especially in companies where year-end bonuses are the norm for performance targets among sales teams.
3. Cheap and boring food and drink
Anyone can walk into a supermarket and buy themselves a bar of Dairy Milk. It’s not interesting, thoughtful or special. If you’re so out of ideas you’re thinking about buying someone a Toblerone, just get them a decent gift card.
4. Gag gifts
Sometimes they work, but it’s best avoided unless you really know them. That goes double if you’re the boss. Remember that as an employer that you’re “punching down.” You’re in a position of authority or power over your staff, and what seems harmless to you can come off as a dig on someone’s work, or their position in the company.
5. Self-help books
The Secret and Rich Dad, Poor Dad might have completely turned your life around. but don’t try to pressure other people into “improving” themselves. It’s incredibly patronising and not exactly exciting at Christmas.
Four simple guidelines on Christmas gifts for employees
Keep a few ideas in mind when you’re looking to gift to stay on the safe side.
1. Be fair
It’s a gift, not a bonus. No one should feel hard done by when you save the lion’s share of your gift budget for the best performers.
2. Be consistent
Pick a price range you’re confident you can stick to next year too. A big blowout one year and little the next isn’t great for internal credibility, and it gives off uncomfortable boom/bust vibes.
3. No company logos
We love employee engagement but we don’t want to see staff turned into walking billboards for their company. Let your employees enjoy their gift without having to sport the corporate logo everywhere they go.
4. Keep HMRC happy
Keep in mind the value of what you gift is subject to tax regulations. Especially if the cash-value of your gifts adds up to more than £50 per employee over the year.
Talk to your finance people and make sure you keep everything square with the tax man when gifting.
Remember: There’s no need to stress about it
If you’re stressing about it, let me stop you right there. Just get the basics right. Put the effort in, try your best to anticipate the tastes of your employees, and act in earnest gratitude. Hit those notes and you’ll be just fine.
And if you’re still not sure, get in touch with us. We’d be happy to talk you through a few options.