Track

26 Gift Ideas for Remote Employees (That Will Not Blow Your Budget)

Illustration of characters holding presents

At work, there are certain crucial rules of business etiquette. Gifts for employees are not crucial, but they can be a nice way of showing your staff some appreciation. Regardless of what holidays your colleagues celebrate, the end of the year can be a chance to improve team morale.

But once you’ve decided that you want to do the whole gift-giving thing, what do you actually give your employees? And what do you do if your team is partially or fully remote–like Toggl Track–and scattered across the world?

We’ve got it covered. Whether your team works from home or from an office, and whether you’re all in one city or multiple, the gift ideas below are a great place to start. We linked to specific items when appropriate, but you can always look for the local version wherever you (or your teammates) are.

Think inside the gift box

Everyone has different ideas about what constitutes the perfect gift. Ideally, you would show you understand your team by asking the right questions and sussing out their desires well before holiday gift-giving time. 

Of course, if you’d done that, chances are you wouldn’t be here looking for ideas. But if you’re running short on time and don’t have time to think too deeply, don’t be afraid to go with the tried and true. HR professional Suzanne Lucas writes that in general, people seem to like holidays and money. 

But while relatively simple, gifts of off days and money can come with their own headaches. How much is enough? Does it come across as considerate, or thoughtless? Hopefully the list below will help cut down on the agonizing.

Office gifts for employees 

It’s tricky giving gifts that are overtly office related. You want to tread carefully when offering items that might appear to project a hidden agenda or send a passive aggressive message, such as a box of mints for employees with halitosis, for example.

But at the same time, the office is where most desk workers spend their time. Any of the gifts below can be found online, and can brighten up a workstation, whether it’s a home office or in a shared location.

Depending on how many employees you have, or the size of the gift you want to give them, you can always mix and match from the (affordable) items below to create custom gift baskets.

  1. An office plant, or even this desktop bonsai kit
  2. A desk toy or a stress ball, to relieve stress
  3. A personalized mug
  4. A thermos or drink cooler
  5. Coffee or tea to put into any of the above vessels (UK-based Cafédirect  or US-based Counter Culture Coffee)
  6. Stress-reducing teas
  7. Energy bars (just make sure they don’t contain any common allergens and try to do a taste test, as some of them taste like sawdust)
  8. A travel pillow for power naps–you can go with a traditional design like this or splurge on a zanier shape
  9. A USB-powered desk fan for employees who get warm easily
  10. A throw blanket for employees who get chilly easily
  11.  A USB-powered humidifier for the drier climes 
  12. Moisturizing hand lotion, also for those drier climes
  13. A foot hammock for under the desk
  14. A memory foam cushion or pillow for your back or bottom
  15. Moisturizing lotion 

Services, subscriptions and charitable gifts for employees

Sure, you can provide subscriptions to popular productivity platforms–such as Asana, which happens to integrate with Toggl Track–come holiday time. 

But unless you have a very particular kind of company culture, there are plenty of other more exciting subscriptions out there. 

  1. Subscription to an indie or niche streaming service like Mubi.com (just make sure the service works in the region where your employees work) 
  2. Subscription to a snack box service like SnackCrate (US only, but you can search for regionally appropriate options)
  3. Subscription or single issue of an under-the-radar magazine
  4. If they’re city-dwellers, museum pass at a lesser-known local museum in their city
  5. A gift on behalf of charity, such as Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or UNICEF (find the appropriate region) 
  6. Limited subscription to a learning platform like Skillshare
  7. A month (or more) of an audiobook service like Audible

Gift cards for employees

Gift cards may be seen as more thoughtful than cash gifts, but there’s always the risk of getting your employee a gift card to a store they don’t shop at. In that case, you might as well just bump the holiday bonus amounts.

However, if that’s not feasible, here are some gift card ideas that feel a bit more personal than a Micro Center gift card. 

  1. A gift card to a local bookstore
  2. A gift card for their local gourmet grocery store
  3. A gift card for their favorite café or bakery
  4. A non-big box retailer gift card from places like Etsy or Areaware

How to choose your own gift

Did you skim through this list and think bah, humbug? If you’re still in need for a good gift idea for your employees but reject our suggestions, run through the following list of questions about your gift recipient to help narrow down your choices.

  • Do they have any special interests, such as astrology or birdwatching?
  • Do they have any special hobbies, such as biking or baking?
  • Do they have any pets?
  • Do they have any causes they’re passionate about?
  • Do they have kids? 

If you don’t know the answers to any of these questions, it might be a good time to think about introducing some icebreaker questions into your next meeting.

The bottom line

Gift giving and receiving should be enjoyable, but somehow it has become a source of stress for many people, not just for managers.

But getting gifts for your employees can be enjoyable if you think of it as an opportunity to show your appreciation and boost morale. 

It might sound schmaltzy but it’s true: It really is about the thought behind the gesture more than the gift itself. By giving your employees something, you’re showing them that you care.

November 11, 2020