Employee Holiday Gifts: Best Practices

    Posted by Brian Galonek on 08.22.2022
    Brian Galonek
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    Employee Holiday Gift

    Business gifts build relationships, internally and externally. In this post, we’ll focus on best practices when giving gifts to employees for the Holidays.


    Offering Choice


    • One item (no choice): This is the easiest logistically. Take care to select an item that will have universal appeal to your audience (ideally something that few people already have). When you choose one item, you’ll be able to customize it by color or with a company logo. You will need to commit to a quantity and delivery can be bulk shipped to the company for distribution or individually drop-shipped to each recipient’s home.


    • 2-9 items (limited choice): This is a little more complex as you’ll need to provide a way for recipients to make their selection, either online or “old school”. You may be required by the supplier to buy some of the gifts in advance. Depending on the number of items you decide of offer, it may or may not be possible to have them customized (customized items will require a minimum quantity with no returns). Any time you customize, there will be a minimum quantity required. Once recipients have chosen their gift, they are typically drop-shipped to the individual’s home. You may also decide to have employees pre-order their gift and have them shipped to 1 location to hand out at a company event. (If you choose apparel, it may make sense to order a few extra of each size so that employees can exchange if necessary).


    • 10 or more items (wider choice): When a wider selection of gifts is offered, the product selection may be left to the supplier. They may have a pre-set collection of items, or you may be able to work with them to give them information about your audience demographics. It’s not usually possible to customize the gifts when a wider choice is offered, but you will not be required to buy any of the inventory up front, and you’ll have no merchandise left over. Most suppliers will offer the option for recipients to select their gift and delivery options through a website.


    Employee Input


    Surveying employees may be helpful before selecting the gifts you offer. If you invite employee input, use multiple choice questions with defined answers (not open-ended questions). Offer tangible merchandise choices and ask employees to rank the gift choices. Write-in choices may invite counter-productive suggestions like cash or gift cards; these will not benefit the company. You need not give employees total control, but if you invite employee input, take their feedback seriously and into account as you make your decisions.


    Do’s and Don’ts




    • Keep in mind that choices increase complexity. Apparel that requires sizing, color and gender will mean planning early. For example, offering a shirt in one color, male/female silhouettes and 6 sizes = 24 choices.
    • Reinforce that this is a gift. Make sure the packaging is appropriate for a gift (gift-wrapping), insert a custom or personalized note from a manager or company leader.
    • Offer gift choices consistent with your company’s brand. Especially if you are customizing the gift with a company logo, the gift should be an appropriate representation of your brand. Packaging can also reinforce your brand by matching to company colors, etc.
    • If you’re using an outside supplier, offer a toll-free number for questions about gift orders, changes, etc. If you’re managing this in house, provide a contact name and email or number for questions.



    • Wait until the last minute. Start the process early. If you’re giving Holiday gifts, ideally in August or September. We’re all aware of supply-chain issues exacerbated by COVID shut-downs; the earlier you start, the more likely that your first choice will be available and you’ll have the gifts as needed by your deadline.
    • Do this on your own. Work with a professional supplier in the incentive, reward and recognition marketplace. They understand the importance of meeting deadlines for company events and can provide alternatives if your initial choice cannot be delivered in time.


    Employee gifts convey that you appreciate their effort and loyalty. The more thought that you put into gift choices that will appeal to your specific employee audience, the better. An experienced supplier can help guide you to appropriate choices and avoid pitfalls.


    Contact us today for expert advice in selecting appropriate gifts for your employees!

    Topics: Holiday Gift Promotions, Holiday Gifts, employee gifts, Employee Holiday Gifts

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