Three people sit around a table. In the middle is a young man in a red Santa hat. He is opening a small red box with a smile. On either side of him, a woman watches him. The woman on the left has gray hair and wears reindeer antlers. In front of her is a laptop and a coffee cup. The woman on the right has long dark hair and is wearing a gold, sparkly Santa hat. Her mouth is open in a laugh. In the background is a dark gray wall and a bulletin board covered with papers.
Give gifts this holiday season to show your appreciation for all your employees' hard work this past year. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

The holiday season is right around the corner. In addition to planning for Black Friday weekend, it’s time to start thinking about showing gratitude for your employees’ hard work. Supply chain issues are putting pressure on consumers to get their shopping done early. Thinking about what you want to give your employees now can help keep shopping stress to a minimum as December approaches.

Here are some creative and thoughtful employee gift ideas for the holidays.

For the employees still working from home

Many teams haven’t fully returned to the office, if they ever intend to do so. As work from home becomes a more permanent arrangement, give employees simple office upgrades to make their home office feel both comfortable and professional. Research shows that designating a specific area of the home for work activities can make workers more engaged and productive.

There are two ways to approach gifting for remote employees. You can take advantage of delivery services and have a gift shipped directly. Alternatively, for someone who might be working overseas, a virtual gift might be more appropriate. If you’re able to ship to your coworkers, consider sending them a plant to brighten their workspace (check out Bloomscape or The Sill), a snack basket (try a coffee-themed basket from Heart Roasters, recommended by Wirecutter) or a webcam for better Zoom calls.

For overseas employees, digital subscriptions are always a nice gift. Consider gifting a year of Spotify or a year of Calm, a meditation app. Amazon gift cards are always a safe bet, too.

[Read more: Cyber Gifting: Digital Innovators Create New Ways to Feel Connected and Spread Holiday Joy Remotely]

If your office is working remotely, bring everyone together for a holiday-themed cocktail hour.

For workplaces focusing on wellness

The pandemic has forced many employees to take a step back, look at their lifestyle and make new choices around mental health, stress, wellness and their careers. “This means employers need to rethink not only the benefits they are offering workers, but the way in which they treat their workers too,” wrote NPR.

Show your employees that you appreciate their hard work and value their mental health and wellness. A subscription to Headspace (similar to Calm), Strava or ClassPass (if available in your city) are great gifts. You could also encourage healthy habits like drinking water throughout the day by gifting company-branded water bottles, like the Hydro Flask or Camelbak.

For team building

Sometimes, the best gifts aren’t things; they’re experiences. Bringing everyone together at the end of the year to celebrate, show your gratitude and have a good time can boost morale and show employees how much you value their hard work.

If your office is working remotely, bring everyone together for a holiday-themed cocktail hour. “Last year HR had a virtual get-together, an adult beverage of your choice if you wanted. We are all over the country, so this was great,” wrote Suzanne Lucas in Inc. “Plus, one person led whoever wanted to follow along in making a dessert.”

If you’re back in the office, have a holiday cookie-decorating party or a trivia night (with a raffle), or host a hot chocolate bar in the break room. Some small businesses will be operating on a tight budget, so ask employees if they’d like extra time off; some surprise vacation time can be just as rewarding as a holiday party.

[Read more: 5 Small Business Owners on the Perks That Keep Employees Happy]

For seasonal employees

Lastly, seasonal workers are bound to be under a lot of stress this year. Shipping delays coupled with an expected record-breaking Black Friday weekend are going to collide for a chaotic holiday season. Make sure you show your seasonal employees, if you have any, that you appreciate their patience and dedication. This can be as simple as offering Starbucks or Uber Eats gift cards or simple employee discounts at your store. Spread the cheer this holiday season and boost employee morale in the process.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published November 15, 2021