Best Employee Holiday Gift Ideas 2021

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We’re almost to the end of the calendar year. The end of Q4 is just on the horizon, and you may be wondering: how best to celebrate your coworkers? What holiday work gift ideas are going to really be appreciated and put to use? And perhaps most importantly, what’s going to be worth the investment? 

In this article we’ll briefly go over: 

  • Tips on holiday gifts for employees
  • When to splurge on gift baskets for employees
  • How to find gifts for employers

We’ll then go through our comprehensive list of everything from unique holiday gifts for employees, to travel gifts for employees, to more niche, personalized items such as secretary gift ideas for Christmas and gifts for employee appreciation! 

We’ve broken down our mega-list into categories so you can easily search what you’re looking for. And remember, if you need help curating your choices, or you’re interested in learning more about customization options, we’re always here to help!

What to look for in holiday gifts for coworkers 

Ever head of “sticky swag”? According to Saleshacker, this is the best type of swag to send. Though their study investigated swag as a sales tool to increase ROI (which swag most definitely does), the same principles apply when buying swag for your coworkers to show you appreciate them. Essentially, sticky swag means:

  • these items can be used repeatedly; 
  • they’re high quality;
  • they stand the test of time. 

Examples of ‘sticky swag’ include portable chargers, reusable tumblers, and Bluetooth headphones, to name a few. 

Also, when thinking about holiday gifts for coworkers, think about the message you want to communicate. You’ll want to show your team you appreciate them, and that you see all the hard work they put in throughout the year. But you can also take this opportunity to show you care about their wellbeing and see them as more than just a coworker - you see and value them as a person! That’s why we recommend: 

  • thoughtful gifts that encourage self-care
  • gifts that they can use in their personal lives, not just in the office

To start off, think relaxing oil diffusers, wellness bars, reusable water bottles, and yoga mats. 

When to splurge on gift baskets for employees 

Gift baskets are perfect because they offer variety. Because they communicate an extra level of care and curation, they’re particularly well-suited when thinking of gifts for employers, as well as when rewarding top performing sales staff and others in your organization. You can also choose to give individual gifts - such as personalized water bottles - to everyone on your customer success team, for instance, and then on the day of your Christmas party gift each team their own food gift basket for them to enjoy. Because this work holiday gift idea offers so much choice - you can choose wellness baskets, health baskets, travel-inspired gift baskets - there’s sure to be something for everyone. 

How to find gifts for employers 

For many employees, this is a tough one! You want to pick something that isn’t over the top, yet also shows you appreciate your employer. That’s why when thinking about gifts for employers, always lead with classy, high-quality items (like leather embossed notebooks) that are universally-enjoyed gifts that can really be put to use, but that can also be customized and made personal to the recipient. 

If you’re feeling stuck, don’t hesitate to reach out to companies like Gemnote - our design team specializes in curating high-quality gifts for bosses that will stand out from the crowd. We then personalize them in a way that’s going to make your find even more special and unique. 

Unique holiday gifts for employees:

1. Hydro-Grow Kit 

Do you have coworkers who have recently developed green thumbs? Do you have a team that when you go to their desks, you see a bunch of plants and flowers? Well look no further than this kit. These kits are reusable and made for indoors, so you can just add water and watch over the course of 1-2 weeks as your plant sprouts, waiting just a couple more months to harvest the herbs! We definitely categorize this as a top unique holiday gift for employees as this isn’t a choice that’s ‘overdone.’ As a bonus, it’s sure to be especially popular with cosmopolitan workers who might not have full gardens they can sprout their own seeds from. We love how this Modern Sprout grow kit is beautifully designed for the modern home or office.

2. Oil diffuser 

This is an excellent mix of both corporate gift ideas for employees and unique holiday gifts for employees! With all of us working from home more often, oil diffusers are an excellent alternative to candles, which sometimes aren’t allowed in rented accommodation. The best part? Oil diffusers can be especially calming depending on the oil you pair your gift with (lavender and eucalyptus are popular choices). Another advantage of this gift is since it wasn’t on many employee gift ideas 2020 lists, we’re certain it’s a gift that will capture attention and stand out in 2021. Our favorite among oil diffusers is this one by Vitruvi, which comes in a variety of colors and pairs well with over 20 essential oils that can be added to the vessel.

3. At Home Game Kit 

This is one of those great gifts to show employee appreciation, as well as it being a unique find. With many workers quarantining, screen time has increased exponentially, and it’s sometimes nice to get away from your phone and computer. What better way to do that than playing some good, old-fashioned card games with your loved ones? This example of unique holiday gifts for employees can also double as a travel-friendly option for if you’re on the road over the holiday season. 

Personalized gifts for employees: 

1. Candles 

We’re big fans of gifting candles as we edge into the winter months! Opt for universally popular scents like fresh cotton, vanilla, and lavender. Or, if you want to be particularly festive, try out smells like snickerdoodle, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and gingerbread. The great part about this option? Candles show up on our personalized gifts for employees list as they are both easy to customize and universally loved by most workers - and since we’re always thinking about modern and gender neutral design, we love this set from Brooklyn Candle Co.

2. Tea set or ceramic mugs 

Who doesn’t like beginning the day with a hot cup of tea or coffee? And when done right, mugs are often one of the best holiday gifts for coworkers purely because: 1) they offer great utility, and 2) they can be customized to your heart’s content. That’s also why mugs are some of the best personalized gifts for employees as you can screenprint or etch names, initials, birthdays - you name it! (Pssst - a tea set like the one below might also be a thoughtful secretary gift idea for Christmas, since they are often helping run the office from their desk all day, this will save them trips to the kitchen to top up their drinks!). One of our favorite brands for ceramic serveware or dinnerware is Kinto Japan.

3. Notebooks

Notebooks are an excellent option when searching for personalized gifts for employees and gifts for employers because whether it’s your boss or your sales team, everyone uses notebooks, but hardly anyone customizes their own notebooks.

Travel gifts for employees 

1. Airpods Pro

Bluetooth headphones are a universal favorite when traveling these days, or taking Zoom calls, and for good reason: they offer quality, longevity, and utility! That’s why if you’re also on the lookout for tech gifts for employees, these should be at the top of that list too. Since these Apple Airpods Pro are a pricey gift investment, we understand if this is out of budget for employees, but you can always tier gifts based on employee seniority. This allows more flexibility to gift higher-end items to middle management, VP-level roles, and other executives. It’s worth noting, however, that there are alternatives to Apple, and our team at Gemnote is more than happy to send you options within your price point.

2. Duffle bag 

As more and more people avoid air travel in the time of COVID, shell suitcases are being foregone in lieu of lighter duffle bags. With the help of gifting companies such as Gemnote, get these travel gifts for employees embroidered, screen printed, or stitched! Many of your quintessential outdoor brands have well-made, light-weight and durable duffel bags. We love The North Face duffel featured below in black.

3. Portable charger 

This is another travel gift for employees idea that also crosses with common tech gifts for employees! Portable chargers are something that everyone, at some point, has thought they needed, and yet very few people buy for themselves

Just a note here - make sure to take count of how many people own iPhones versus Androids on your team as you consider this gift idea for office staff - or alternatively, make sure to go with universal chargers that accommodate both charging heads. The added bonus of this gift choice? They’re an optimal gift idea for employees on a budget!

Employee gift ideas under $10

1. Gourmet chocolate bars 

When thinking of gift ideas for teammates or holiday gifts for coworkers, it sometimes feels impossible to find something that everybody likes - enter personalized chocolate bars. This customized option tops our employee gift ideas under $10 as they’re affordable, meaningful, and well-liked by almost everyone. We select from gourmet chocolatiers like K+M (Thomas Keller’s brand), Dick Taylor, Mast Brothers, Ritual Chocolate and more. 

What’s more - with the help of a company like Gemnote, you can brand the packaging (making it a perfect corporate gift for employees as well), or add a thoughtful note to the exterior like Reddit and Netflix did below. 

2. Bluetooth Keychains 

Having trouble finding your keys? Not anymore. These bluetooth keychains are affordable and practical at $25 each. You download an app on your phone, connect it to the keychain, and voila - you now no longer have to search for your keys! This is an economical option for those that want to find gift ideas for teammates that spread some company cheer without breaking the bank. Tile and Orbit are the leading brands in bluetooth keychains - and we personally love the range of colors Orbit offers.

3. Cinema box 

This employee gift idea under $10 is a cute way to light up anyone’s corner of the office! It also is a great option when thinking about secretary gift ideas for Christmas - these members of your team often find themselves tied to their desks organizing and scheduling, so this is a fun way to spread some holiday cheer and inject more personality into the office.   

Corporate gifts for employees

1. Crewneck Sweatshirts 

When we think corporate gift ideas for employees for every season, we think of branded sweatshirts - and for good reason! They’re a classic staple that recipients love, not to mention a perfect way to advertise your brand during daily Zoom calls with clients and partners. These ones Envoy and Slack had made are a great example of gifts for employees appreciation done right. Their high quality, comfortable, and can be used over and over. Whether you’re looking for brands like Alternative Apparel or Marine Layer, our team has you covered when it comes to sweatshirt options.

2. Backpacks 

As Amazon and Google know well, corporate gifts for employees that are always well received are backpacks (these also double as a great option when thinking of travel gifts for employees). Easily personalize these by getting them embroidered, screen printed, or leather embossed (an ideal option when making a special gift for employers). Pick from a range of colorways and styles by Topo Design, or alternatively go with something more traditional by Patagonia, Timbuk2, or Incase. 

3. Hip Packs / Fanny Packs

This holiday work gift idea is definitely considered ‘sticky swag’ as employees will get plenty of repeat use out of these hip packs from Patagonia. If your team already has backpacks they love, these useful carriers are an ideal option for days on which teammates want to travel light, such as when doing more outdoors activities like hiking. These are also ideal for family-based activities, even when in the city - go for a long run around Central Park during a sunny winter day, or take a bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge with your family.

Gift ideas for office staff: 

1. Camper hats and Baseball caps 

Looking for holiday gifts for coworkers that aren’t super expensive? Wondering about the best small holiday employee gifts that are easy to transport between home and office? A wool or felt hat is a great place to start as we move into winter. Think about getting the logo of your company embroidered on the front of each employees’ baseball cap, for instance. Alternatively, the camper hat is a new and on-trend look for the more fashion-focused individuals on your team. 

2. Reusable coffee cup or tumbler 

Now that more companies (and people) are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, you can reduce your office’s carbon footprint while also gifting some great office swag that gets noticed. They say great things come in small packages, and we’d say this customizable gift counts as one of the best small holiday employee gifts we’ve seen for this coming year.  

3. Box of chocolate

Create highly personalized, beautiful-looking (and delicious) chocolate boxes. These shareable boxes are perfect when thinking of gift ideas for teammates, or if you want to congratulate a specific team on a job well-done!  Here's a artistically designed box of chocolates by Feve Chocolate.

Gifts for employers: 

1. Bluetooth speakers 

If your boss is always loving the tech gifts for employees you’re getting, then buying a speaker is a must! As with all the best employee gift ideas 2020 (check out our list for more ideas!), this option ticks off all the boxes: it’s useful, easy to use, and offers longevity.

2. Coffee set 

If you’re brainstorming holiday gifts for your boss that speak to their personality, and they’re a coffee lover, then look no further - this Verve coffee gift is something that can be used in and outside the office. The coffee beans come in a variety of flavors and roasts, all beautifully packaged. For any coffee connoisseur, this will score a 10/10! It’s worth noting, this gift set includes not only a bag of Verve coffee and a Fellow kettle, which comes in a variety of metal finishes.

2. Fleece zip up jacket

High quality fleece zip ups aren’t just perfect gift ideas for office staff - they’re ideal for your boss too! Nowadays a lot of companies, especially those in the tech space, follow a more horizontal hierarchical structure, where managers and even executives share open-plan offices and consider themselves just one of the team. So if that sounds anything like your office, consider a more low-key gift for your employer like these Patagonia fleece zip up jackets The most popular choice - the Better Sweater - is perfect for almost everyone, thanks to its light-weight feel and high-quality materials. And if you want to try a different brand, there’s also Arc’teryx. This company is known for spear-heading technology when it comes to fabrics, and their clothing is perfect for all the mountaineers, snowboarders, and skiers on your team. 

Secretary gift ideas Christmas: 

1. Wellness basket 

Secretaries and administrative assistants are essential to a well-running office and help keep your organization chugging along smoothly - to show your appreciation, opt for a gift that communicates you care about their well-being both in and outside the office! This gift basket includes a reusable water tumbler, delicious snacks, a reusable lunch box by EcoBox, Popsocket, muscle soothing gel to relieve stress, and LiquidIV electrolyte drink mixes. 

2. Neck pillow 

Does your secretary enjoy traveling? Are they always jetting off to visit family? If so, you may want to consider a personalized neck pillow. This is an inexpensive piece of swag that will get plenty of use for years to come. 

2. Engraved wine glasses 

As we enter into the holiday season, and with more time to spend with friends and family, engraved wine glasses offer a personalized touch to a universally-loved gift. Wine tumblers are an on-trend choice, and your secretaries' initials engraved along the front is a fun way to show you appreciate them and wish them an enjoyable holiday season!

Gift baskets for employees

1. Health and wellness gift set 

When following tips on holiday gifts for employees, remember to prioritize utility, thoughtfulness, and personalization. This gift pictured below, one of our top picks for gift baskets for employees, offers an oil diffuser with accompanying essential oils, a charcoal facial puff, a guide to mindful travel, a yoga mat, as well as a wellness bar and a cotton t-shirt. For us, this is one of those corporate gifts for employees that reminds recipients that their company cares about their physical and mental wellness both inside and outside the office. 

2. Host or Entertaining gift set

If you’re stuck on holiday gifts for coworkers, and your office is full of extroverts, you might want to take a closer look at this entertaining gift set. This thoughtful option is full of high-quality items that are perfect when hosting any get-together: it comes with a copper reusable mug, a Moscow Mule kit, a puzzle, two wine tumblers, a soy scented candle, and oat milk chocolate, as well as an ice tray. 

3. Coffee lover and Dalgona coffee gift set

As we mentioned earlier in this post, any kind of sophisticated, high-end coffee kit or tea-making kit is a popular choice gift for employers and employees alike. This particular gift basket for employees comes with two glasses (which you can personalize through glass etching with a swag company like Gemnote); Verve instant coffee, a puzzle shaped as a chocolate bar, stainless steel reusable straws, and latte instructions. This cute kit could also present a great option when thinking about DIY gifts for employees: for those who enjoy brewing their own coffee or making latte art, this is the perfect gift for them to express their creativity!

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