Giving gifts to your staff or employees can be a great way to show your appreciation and to say thank you for contributions made to the organization.  However, when not done properly, employee gifting can result in gift apathy or in some cases even resentment or frustration.   In this complete guide to employee gifting, you will find everything you need to know to implement successful employee gifting campaigns that deliver a strong ROI and boost employee morale.  

Very few organizations have staff members whose primary responsibilities include employee gifting.  In most cases these tasks are assigned to HR, an executive assistant or performed by a manager or supervisor directly.  If you have been tasked with coordinating employee anniversary gifts, finding performance incentive gifts or even overseeing employee holiday gifts for the entire organization, you might be wondering how you will find the time to do this with everything else you have on your plate.  With the time saving tips, gift suggestions and partner recommendations in this guide, this can be your chance to exceed expectations and watch your personal stock rise as you execute a flawless gifting campaign. 

Keys to Successful Employee Gifting

Begin with the End in Mind

Steven Covey knew what he was talking about.  Before you start any employee gifting campaign, you should have a clear objective of what you hope to accomplish with the campaign.   Employee gifts can be a significant expense for a company and should have a measurable ROI.   Include key stakeholders as you identify your objective and how you will measure the success of your campaign.  At the end of your gifting campaign follow up with the same stakeholders to let them know how the campaign performed against your stated objectives.    

How Much Should I Spend on Gifts for Employees?

Budgets will vary widely from company to company and from campaign to campaign.  Incentive gifts for your top sales employees may be much higher than the amount spent on each employee for employee holiday gifts.   

The following chart shows the per employee gift amount for employee holiday gifts for companies that partnered with Shadow Breeze during 2020 holiday season.  


How Much Should I Spend on Employee Holiday Gifts

From the chart above we see that $50 to $100 seems to be the sweet spot for employee holiday gifts.   When shipping gifts directly to employee's homes, as was the case for almost all companies in 2020,  it is tough to get a quality gift for less than $50, including shipping and gift packaging, since those two items can easily total $20 before any items are added to the gift.

Don't Brand Everything in the Gift

Many companies want to include company branded items in their gifts.   There is nothing wrong with including branded items in your gifts but the branding should be small and on limited items.  Early in my career I worked for a Fortune 50  company and one day decided to count all the branded shirts, jackets, hats and other branded apparel items I had in my closet.    I had more than 50 branded items.  I wore a few of them on rare occasions but most just sat there taking up space.    

The purpose of your gift is not to advertise your company.  Your employees already know who they work for.  If you include branded items the brand should be tasteful and small like on the sleeve of a shirt, the corner of a notebook or the bottom of a tumbler.   

Personalization is a great alternative to branding.    An item with an employee's name is much more likely to be used outside of the office than the same item with the company's name.   

Don't Only Include Consumable Items in the Gifts

Most employee holiday gifts include consumable items like snacks, nuts, meats, cheese, chocolates and more.  Food and snacks make great gift items but you should include some non consumable items as well.     I have received a lot of food gift baskets over the years, which I enjoyed, but once the food was gone so was the memory of the gift.  However, I still have a set of steak knives that an old boss gave me 20 years ago that I use all the time.   

There are almost an unlimited number of non-consumable items to include in a gift.  Spend a little time thinking about items you have received over the years that you use all the time.   It might be a personalized leather notebook, an insulated tumbler, a personalized cutting board, serving tray, luggage tags, etc.  

Food Items and Dietary Restrictions

If you are sending gifts to only a few employees it may be possible to ask employees about dietary restrictions and customize food options for each employee.   However, when you are sending gifts to hundreds or thousands of employees that may not be an option.   Unless you want to be safe and  send gluten free, nut free, sugar free, dairy free gifts to everyone, which will significantly limit your options, your best bet is to send a variety of snacks and food items so even if they can't enjoy everything in the gift there will be some things they can enjoy.    

Consider Non-Traditional Gift Items

When thinking about items to add to your corporate gift boxes, consider adding unique ot non-traditional items.   Some of our favorites include online classes like painting or cooking, easily accessible for all employees regardless of location, gift certificate for converting a favorite photo into a painted canvas, cocktail making class/kit, national park pass, VRBO gift certificate, etc.   If your employees are all located in the same geographic area there are sure to be a number of other local experiences for employees and family members to consider adding to your gift.  

National Park Annual Pass

Stay Away from Personal Items or Items too Narrow in Scope

When considering items for your employees, stay away from items that are too personal.  For example, perfume or cologne does not make a great employee gift.  Another area to avoid are items that may only appeal to a select group of employees.  These might include items such as golf balls, home decor items, hobby items, etc.    

If you are sending gifts to a large, diverse group of employees it is unlikely that every employee will love everything in the gift but if you stick to less personal and general items you can ensure that there is something in the gift that everyone will enjoy.

When Should I Order My Employee Holiday Gifts

September is the best time to finalize your holiday gifting plans.    If you wait until the 4th quarter you might find you or your gifting partner will have trouble sourcing items, especially if you need a large number of gifts or have very unique gifts.  Supply chains are a mess in 2021 and most suppliers are experiencing significant delays in manufacturing and shipping.  Those delays will lead to higher prices and products going out of stock in the 4th quarter.   

When Should I Send My Employee Holiday Gifts

Most companies want their employee gifts to be delivered just before the Christmas Holiday.    There are a couple of reasons why that is not he best time.   First, your gift will be competing with all the other gifts your employees are receiving that time of year.   It can be easy to become "just one more gift" on the porch.   Second, shipping companies experience their biggest delays around the Christmas holidays and it is not uncommon for packages to be delayed.  

We recommend you send your gifts in early December or in early January as a "New Years" gift.    In either case your gift won't be competing for attention with other gifts or for recipients attention during the hectic holiday season.   

If you are shipping gifts to one location and giving them to your employees at the office, we suggest you arrange to have the gifts delivered to employee's desk overnight so all employees come in and receive their gifts at the same time.   

Select Gift Packaging that Makes an Impression

You may not be able to judge a book by its cover but a poor gift presentation can distract from your gift contents and taint your brand's image.  When budgeting for your gifts, be sure to include the cost of gift packaging.  Gift packaging is one place where you should feature your brand front and center.  It's great to include your logo on a card but also including it on the gift box, crate or bag makes a great impression.  With hundreds of gift packaging options available it should be easy to find a option that fits perfectly with your gift.

If you are looking for a little something extra you can ship your gifts in keepsake packaging like a branded pine box or a branded back-pack that will be used long after the gift is gone.   

Pine Crate Gift Packaging |

Selecting the Right Corporate Gifting Company

Employee gifting campaigns can be complex.  Designing gifts, sourcing products and gift packaging, personalizing gift items, warehousing products, building gift boxes, fulfillment, shipping and customer service take a lot of time and energy.    Working with the right business gifting partner can make all the difference.  In addition to selecting a partner who can handle all of these tasks for you, make sure you get a dedicated account manager who is responsive and understands your gifting needs     

Shadow Breeze makes employee gifting easy.   We have shipped gifts for tens of thousands of clients to destinations all around the world.    Reach out to one of our corporate gifting experts today to see how we can make your life easier.  

September 01, 2021 — Matt Graham

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