In an environment of economic uncertainty, buying Christmas gifts for office staff might feel like less of a priority for companies. But a small token of appreciation can do so much for morale at times like these - and if you start planning your gifting in advance you can not only make efficiencies, you can also provide employees much more thoughtful gifts.
We spoke to 21 managers responsible for buying gifts for employees to find out how they’ll be approaching the festive season this year, and get their top tips for a successful gifting programme.
Digital Marketing Manager: Sage Software Solutions
I believe that buying Christmas gifts for office staff helps keep them synced with the organisation. It can also be great for strengthening relationships with clients and suppliers. If your festive gifting does extend to clients and suppliers, you should first check compliance laws and understand the situation under which they can accept the gift.
Buying Christmas gifts for office staff shows them that you appreciate their hard work and that you value them as not just employees, but also as people. It doesn’t have to be a big, fancy or expensive gift, because it’s really the thought that counts. Even a gift card for a couple cups of coffee accompanied by a thoughtful, handwritten note sends the message that you care.
Co-Founder: Consumer Gravity
Act upon the feedback taken from employees via surveys. These surveys will help you gather information regarding what kinds of gifts your employees like. They will feel immensely valued if they receive gifts in line with their preferences.
We approach buying Christmas gifts for office staff with the utmost priority in our workplace. We make a list of each employee and ask their colleagues what they prefer as a gift. This way, it comes as a great surprise when they receive the gift.
Company culture will play a big role in how you approach gifting. If your organisation is more formal, you may want to stick to traditional gifts. If your company culture is more relaxed, you have more leeway to be creative with your gifts. Try to find something that fits with your company's culture and values. If you're an eco-friendly company, for example, look for gifts that are made from sustainable materials or that support charitable causes.
Managing Director: Skills Training Group
As the MD, I personally buy a gift for each member of the team, which is mostly spirits and wine, but I consider everyone’s background. If they don’t drink alcohol, I’ll go for some quality food gifts or LUSH bath sets, which always go down a treat! I generally budget for around £30 per person. I think festive gifts are really important for your team morale and inclusivity. It brings the best out of everyone.
Chief Commercial Officer: Stephenson Law
We're a human-first law firm that strives to build a supportive, accepting and fun place to work. That's why we invest in gifts for our employees and clients alike. It’s led to us purchasing a galaxy of stars to thank our clients, adopting a flock of flamingos for Christmas, and investing into quirky branded merch (who doesn't love a scented candle?). When it comes to festive gifting, we try to strike a balance between CSR and ensuring our team feels rewarded. Whether that’s ethically sourced gifts or presents designed to better the planet - the goal is to give something that lasts.
Head of Operations: 365 Job Application
As an IT firm, last year we gave employees a Tech Box, which included earbuds, a keychain, a powerbank and a data cable, as well as a box of chocolates with a personalised greeting. Our employees loved it and, as the products were branded, it helped us market our company indirectly.
CEO: Coach Foundation
Frequently, we are stuck delivering generic business gifts that have lost their novelty over time, so I recommend giving a customised corporate gift. For example, if a company is giving Christmas mugs to its employees, they may use it and then forget about it when they get a new one. On the other hand, if the company is giving mugs with personalised caricatures or names, the employees will remember it or maybe keep it forever.
CEO: Brighter Directions
We always buy Christmas ‘thank yous’ for our team. Last year we created customised hampers for everyone. Everyone had things that were personalised to them and I think this made it really special. Yes, it takes much more time than ordering a pre-made one, but it's not as thoughtful in my opinion. It’s worth noting that Christmas isn’t the only time you can reward your team. Rewards are absolutely vital to maintain staff motivation and build a strong culture of unity and dedication.
SEO Team Manager: Teranga Digital Marketing
These days it’s hard to keep staff motivation at a good level, especially if the company is fully remote. Buying gifts for staff is an absolute must if you want to keep your remote company culture strong. To make it more interesting, you could organise a secret Santa and provide your employees with some budget to buy a gift for a colleague. Then, they can open them at your remote Christmas party.
E-commerce and Retail Expert: Soxy
We approach festive gifting by planning ahead of time because we don’t want to give a generic gift to our employees. My top tip is to think of whether people will even use the gift or not. At the same time, avoid giving work-related gifts as people should be able to take their mind off work during the holidays.
CEO: Car Donation Centers
My company is a non-profit charity organisation which currently employs fifty talented individuals. Every Christmas we host a humble get-together where all employees and their families are invited for dinner, usually in my backyard, where everyone gets a hand-picked gift. I would never suggest the practice of standardised gifting which many companies do. To give all your employees the same gift shows neglect and impatience.
Owner: Traverse Bay Farms
For Thanksgiving, we provide each of our employees with the ingredients for a family Thanksgiving meal. For Christmas, we give a small honey-baked ham and frozen pie. An edible gift is not only more environmentally friendly than, say, a plastic gift, edibles also serve another purpose during the holidays as they are generally enjoyed with family and friends. When you take a step back, food helps to bring people together and share a pleasurable experience.
CEO: Live Laugh Create
To show employees that you recognise who they are outside of work and beyond their job, consider tailoring the gift to the recipient's interests or hobbies. For instance, if you know someone is a big fan of hiking, a new set of hiking socks would be a welcomed present.
Director: Net Lawman
Considering inflation and the state of the economy, we are aware that we should not exaggerate, but you would not believe how much a nice change of schedule can cheer up employees. Always give gifts according to your possibilities, and remember, gestures do not have to be grandiose, it is enough to show employees that you are thinking of them and that you appreciate their work. If your budget doesn't allow you to be overly imaginative, cut your working hours one day and go out for a drink together.
Founder: IDentity Lingerie
We are a small business with a team of 8 people. I think the best Christmas gifts for staff and their families are products or services from your own business. They might be shy to ask for a free trial/product but Christmas might be a great occasion for this. This would also help them to get to know your product better and feel closer to the brand. For example, our employees love to get our lingerie and nightwear as a gift for themselves or their loved ones.
Founder: Better Tools
We go all-out with our festive celebrations. All of our employees are given gifts and we let them choose from a list of options. My best tip is to limit yourself to three or four options. Giving too many choices can confuse your employees. And it will also be difficult to source so many different gifts.
Founding partner: FBR Law
Make sure to include everyone - if you are at the top, making favortised choices can work against you. I would suggest either buying everyone something small, or something they can share, such as paying for everyone to have a drink at the Christmas party.
In a small business, where budgets are tight we’ve chosen to focus on making gifts thoughtful and personal rather than something with a larger monetary value but given to all. I make a point to include personalised messages alongside gifts. As tutors, we’re quite often given gifts by our students at Christmas or at the end of the academic year – the things that I’ve kept (even decades later) are the thank you cards. These mean far more than any gift.
When buying Christmas gifts for office staff, I try to give something that is useful in the workplace. Something that can enhance their work experience or be used after work to help them rebound from work-related stress. For example, a nice bottle of alcohol can help employees unwind after a long workweek, or a science-based desk gadget that can help alleviate stress. Other gifts could include: quality coffee they would enjoy before starting their day, a sturdy mug to hold their coffee, or even a wireless smartphone charger to keep on their desk.