A crucial component of happiness at work is feeling appreciated and recognized. Praise is a potent motivator, taking little time investment and reaping high rewards.
One of the best ways to demonstrate appreciation is by offering a meaningful gift or reward to your employees.
When it comes to gifts, it’s not about the price as much as the thought behind it. Pick gifts and rewards that you know your employees will enjoy and use.
To help you out, we’ve come up with a list of creative and thoughtful gift ideas that you can implement at your workplace and links to online shops to get you started.
Feel free to jump to the section that is most relevant to you!
Bottle of liquor or wine
Do you have any whisky-lovers or budding sommeliers on your team? A nice bottle of natural wine or specialty liquor is an affordable gift to provide for a work anniversary or any other special occasion. Online stores such as Saucy are a great place to shop for a wide variety of specialty liquors and alcohol. The team can crack it open for a celebratory happy hour. Or the employee can save it to enjoy at home with family and friends.
If your employee is a tech-geek and a significant anniversary or accomplishment is coming up, consider buying them an electronic gadget or device. Example, wireless headphones, speakers, or a fitness watch. Any device that you think will resonate with your employee’s particular lifestyle and hobbies will be much appreciated.
Stylish and practical kitchenware item
If you have any food and cooking aficionados on your team, gifting a useful or stylish kitchenware item is always a great gift idea. For example, cocktail tumblers, or an elegant ceramic serving bowl, or quirky place mats. You can find excellent houseware items at many online stores such as Wayfair, West Elm, Structube, and Article.
Decorative or useful office item
In the same spirit, a stylish and practical piece for the office is always great gift ideas. For example, bookends, file holders, pencil tumblers, laptop stands. Ikea and Pottery Barn and other home furnishing shops have endless possibilities for excellent office accessory gifts.
A framed poster or print
A highly-personalized gift that will surely be remembered: a framed poster or print. Choose a print that resonates with your employee’s passions and interests. For example, if they always talk about their travels, a framed vintage travel poster can be a wonderful gift and double as office decoration. Online shops like Zazzle and All Posters can shop thousands of posters, and framing services can be purchased all at once.
High-quality artisanal food items
This is perfect for all foodies and amateur chefs on your team. You can buy a high-quality bottle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, artisanal hot sauce, chocolate, or specialty ingredients like truffle oil or butter. Online stores like Farm to people, edible Canada, and Pasta cheese all specialize in small-batch gourmet foods. Consumable items make the best gifts because they are practical and will be used multiple times. Your employee will remember your gift every time they cook!
This is a great gift idea for employees you know love their “me” time. Essential oil diffusers or scented candles are an affordable and thoughtful gift for any employee who knows the value of unwinding and relaxing. Diffusers come at a variety of price points: if you’re going for something higher-quality, consider this stone diffuser from Vitruvi. Or, if you’re on a budget, you can grab this one from Amazon for about half the price.
Leave early on a Friday or extra personal day
One of the best gifts you can offer your employees is the opportunity to relax and recharge. The great way to do that is with time off. A paid or “free” time off is an easy way to thank employees for their hard work. They’ve earned it. In the same spirit, offering an extra paid personal day is a great reward. When an employee has shown that they accomplished their objectives and goals, there’s no better way to reward them with time to recharge.
Bring your dog to workday
Who doesn’t love the presence of a fun and furry friend? Allowing your employee to bring their dog to work can be a great way to boost employee morale and the entire team.
Paid Group lunch, dinner, or happy hour
One of the best experiences to offer an employee as a reward is a great meal and drinks from a local restaurant. You can provide a paid team lunch or take your employee out for lunch for a friendly one-on-one.
Team visit to an escape room or similar activity
For intellectual team members that prefer an interactive group activity, offering to take your team to a local escape room can be a fun way to build relationships. For an extra memorable reward, you can take your team out for drinks afterwards. For those who prefer a more traditional group activity, consider taking your team out for bowling, go-karting, or paintball.
Paid online courses
A great way to support your employee both personally and professionally is to offer to pay for an online course. Online learning centers, such as Linkedin Learning, provides classes in a wide range of domains. If your employee wants to take a specific course from an online academy related to their particular area of expertise, you can do that. For example, you can subsidize online marketing courses. Online academies and industry experts offer affordable courses and certificates in marketing, SEO, online advertising, and more!
Paid night stay in a local hotel
In the same spirit as relaxation, a fun reward for a job well done is a night in a stylish local boutique hotel. This is an excellent gift for a significant work accomplishment or a formal work anniversary. The employee you reward the gift to can choose to stay alone or bring their significant other, making the experience all the more memorable.
Voucher to restaurants or cafes
Who doesn't love a fancy 8$ iced coffee beverage? Offering a gift certificate to a local cafe is an affordable and safe option to say thank you. Let's be real--most people love coffee. If you know your employees will prefer to support local businesses, skip the Starbucks and go for the small mom and pop shops. It's all about catering to what your employees want.
Pro Tip: To get a better sense of the type of rewards your employees will appreciate, we recommend you poll your employees--with Applauz Company Polls or another polling or survey tool.
A paid subscription to an app of choice
There are so many great apps available. For a truly memorable gift, you can offer a 6-month or yearly subscription to an app of your choice. Some popular options include lifestyle apps such as Noom or Headspace.
A paid subscription to a monthly media platform of choice
These days, premium, high-quality written content can usually be accessed through a subscription-based model. For example, publications, magazines and newspapers like The Atlantic, New York Magazine, Tech Crunch, Wired, and The New York Times, are all accessible with subscriptions only. Many subscriptions are very affordable. Like a digital subscription to The Atlantic is only 50$ per year. A subscription to a publication you believe will resonate with your employees' interests and passions makes a wonderful gift.
Voucher for essentials
Sometimes practical and useful gifts are the best ones. Offering gift cards of various denominations for places like pharmacies, grocery stores, hardware stores and superstores like Walmart or Costco.
Voucher to a food delivery service
A food-based reward is always appreciated! Not sure what your employees will enjoy? Let them choose by purchasing gift vouchers for local food delivery services such as Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes, Golo, Postmates, and more. This is a great way to support independent restaurants as well!
A book makes for a great personalized and meaningful gift for your knowledge-hungry employees. When a manager takes the time to purchase a book that they know the employee will enjoy, it demonstrates thought and effort was put into the gift.
Branded company swag
A classic and cost-effective reward is company "swag." This means branded t-shirts, hoodies, caps, mugs, water bottles, pens, bandannas, lanyards, tote bags and more. Custom company swag is affordable to buy, and it's also a great gift during other occasions, such as an onboarding gift for new hires. If you're not sure where to get started on creating custom items, simply Google "custom company swag printing" to find local businesses that offer this service!
Plants for their desk
Who doesn't like a little greenery in their office? Purchasing a plant for home or office use is a classic and inexpensive way to say 'thank you' to employees. You can even purchase plants online! For Canadians, here is a list of top online shops to buy plants. And for U.S. residents of, here is a similar list.
A personalized mug is a fun and easy gift for employees. It's also more meaningful because it's tailored to them. It's that extra touch that really communicates that effort was put into the gift. Online shops like Zazzle, you can personalize different types of mugs with either text or photos of your choice.
A handwritten letter or note
Sometimes the best reward is a sincere and genuine acknowledgement of an employee's effort and hard work. The best way to communicate your message of appreciation is with a handwritten card or letter. Make sure that you also present it to them in person, if possible.
Quality notebook or stationery
A classic reward to say 'thank you' is with high-quality notebooks or stationery. For instance, Rifle Paper Co. is a U.S. based shop that specializes in high-quality stationery and other office accessories. All kinds of special, unique employee gifts can be found in their online shop. Another idea is a classic Moleskin notebook or planner, and it's a simple and thoughtful gift that will always be put to good use.
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