The holidays are a time of love, laughter, and good cheer – but in the corporate world, those sorts of celebrations can be totally hit-or-miss. Some people love getting presents in the office and hit up every holiday party from start to finish, while others really don’t see the point.
If you’re going to celebrate the holidays in the office, however, put in a little time and effort to get it right. So here are a few suggestions for office holiday gift and celebration ideas that’ll really help Make Their Day, rather than spending your budget just to hand out a perfunctory gift that’ll end up in the trash heap:
Make it personal
Gone are the days when a new company mug or a paperweight that says “thank you” would be considered a genuinely meaningful holiday gift for your employees. Something mass-produced and distributed to every employee – even if “nice” or expensive – often looks phoned-in, and younger generations especially will simply ask themselves why that money couldn’t have gone into their paychecks instead.
If you do decide you want to give your team something physical (and we totally get it – who doesn’t love unwrapping a gift?!), don’t just default to a useless or generic trinket – make it more personal! Set a budget and apply it equally (it doesn’t need to be extravagant; $20-30/person can be just fine), and use that budget to get each person something they’ll really appreciate.
Is Sherry from Accounting on Zoom calls all day? A ring light can literally brighten their presence. Bob in marketing is going through 4 cups of coffee a day? A bag of beans from a respected local roaster could be a treat that goes a long way. Is Elliott the programmer always under headphones while coding? An audiobook subscription service could make their workday fly by. It takes some time to get right, but the right gift can help show staff you care.
Make it professional
Of course, even the most thoughtful physical gift doesn’t negate the fact that some employees simply don’t want stuff. Especially in a professional setting, many workers don’t expect you to read their list to Santa – they just want you to provide acknowledgement and support to them in the workplace.
While great organizations provide professional development as a default, the holidays can be a fantastic time to go the extra mile and help show your employees that you really care about where they’re headed.
This could mean offering to pay for a certification class that previously wasn’t in the budget. It could mean setting up a 1-on-1 for your employee with an executive in their field that rarely has time to spare. It could even just be a heartfelt letter detailing why you respect them and their work – with permission to share it as part of a recommendation next time they go for a promotion. Going the extra mile to show your team that you have their backs throughout their careers can be a longer-lasting and more impactful gift than anything physical ever could.
Make it for everybody
Maybe you’ve noticed, but we haven’t yet touched on one of the most common workplace holiday gifts of all: the office holiday party. The holiday party is an interesting beast – it can be subdued or lavish, behavior can be brutally uptight or distressingly chaotic, and it can feel like a celebration of our team and each other or feel like your worst day at the office (but dressed in an ugly sweater).
The best way you can make an office holiday party feel like a true gift and not just an obligation to attend is by making it as open and welcoming as possible. An off-site location can break people out of that “I’m at the office” mindset and have a bit more fun. Drink tickets can let people unwind without the excess that comes from an open bar. And maybe most importantly, open it up to family and +1’s – and make them feel truly invited with fun activities for kids, ice breakers so that spouses don’t feel relegated to the corner, and enough food for everyone. Trust us – your team will notice the gesture, and a genuinely fun night out at no cost to them can be a great gift for families of all sizes.
Ideas to Reflect On:
- What’s the best office holiday gift you’ve ever received? Which ones could you have done without? What made the former different?
- When planning office holiday gift giving, do you account for each person individually, or do you order the same gift for everyone? If you were in their shoes, which would you prefer?
- If you’re planning an office party, think about your budget: what’s one area where you could cut back, and what’s one area you could invest that saved budget into something really memorable or appreciated?
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