People Management

Company Gifts: 20 Employee Gift Ideas to Give Back

By Andrée-Anne Blais-Auclair May 19 2021

Recognizing your employees should be on your list of priorities—it yields dividends not just for employees’ well-being, but also for their commitment to your business. Employee gifts are a great way to do so.

Many situations are ideal for providing employees with everyday recognition, whether in the form of positive feedback or thanks, for example. But there’s also another, complementary form of recognition that is sometimes just what the situation calls for.

If you’ve had a banner year—or survived a crisis or a major change—you can highlight your employees’ efforts or successes with a gift.

Here are my best company gift ideas, divided into 6 categories.

The Fun Employee Gift

1. Basket of artisanal food products

Encourage local producers by bringing together a variety of artisanal food products to make a lovely basket. In the summer, you can include seasonal vegetables, jams and fresh fruit pies. In the winter, opt for prepared food products such as pickled garlic scapes, homemade bread, pâtés, and quiches.

2. Quality bottle of alcohol

When it comes to alcohol, there are so many options to choose from. Gift your employees a good bottle. Better still, go the extra mile and buy something local, for example the Quebec-made Romeo’s Gin. My go-to selection includes maple cream drink, Coureur des bois, Choco Crème, and Pur Vodka

3. Cocktail kit

Have you heard of Monsieur Cocktail ready-made kit boxes? If your employee is always talking about how much they love drinking daiquiris on their patio in the summer, Monsieur Cocktail is sure to win them over. The box makes 10 frozen strawberry daiquiris, and includes everything you need, from glass and straws to umbrellas and syrups. The only thing you’ll have to add is a bottle of rum, for the alcoholic version. Of course, you can also use the kit as is for the mocktail version of the drink.

4. Meal box from a local restaurant, delivered to your employee’s door

For Christmas, at Agendrix, each employee received a meal box for two from a fine cuisine restaurant, bottle of wine included. This gave each employee the opportunity to enjoy some quality time, over a good meal, minus the cooking and dishes. Yippee! Over the past year, restaurants have come out with many more “meal box” options. Check them out!

Christmas gifts from Agendrix
Christmas meal send by Agendrix for their employees

5. Show tickets

To highlight a milestone for an employee or congratulate them on a success, why not gift them tickets to a show? For best results, make sure to find out what they enjoy. Imagine the look on your employee’s face when they see two tickets to a show they’ve only ever dreamed of going to...

Avoid buying tickets to just any random show, without checking your employee’s tastes—this could make the gift seem generic.

6. Prepaid credit card

Gifting a prepaid credit card lets your employee finally buy that special something that’s been sitting in their Amazon cart but that they’ve never quite decided to buy. Done and dusted!

Corporate Gift Connected to Your Values

7. Budget for an outdoor purchase 

If you say that your employees’ health is important to you, and you tout the merits of exercising and the outdoors, walk the talk by giving your employees an outdoor budget! They can use it to buy the paddleboard of their dreams, or a sleeping bag or a tent for their summer camping.

8. Sports footwear budget

You can also treat your employees to a gift card from a sports shoe store, or announce that you’ll pay for their new pair of sneakers upon presentation of receipts.

Young man playing tennis outdoor
Young men playing basketball outside

9. Quality handmade kitchen item

Want to encourage people at work to take the time to cook up an amazing meal? Gift them a good handmade chef’s knife or an elegant serving tray. There are oodles of local and artisanal options in the way of kitchen tools, and the quality really does make all the difference.

10. Eco-friendly household item

Live up to your values and give the environment a helping hand by gifting your employee an eco-friendly household item. A good example is Bee’s Wrap, which replaces Saran wrap. Dans le sac and Trois fois par jour, both made-in-Quebec companies, offer a number of eco-friendly products that make wonderful gifts.

Employee Gift That Encourages Self-Care

11. App subscription

Apps might be a non-physical gift, but they can have a very concrete impact. Gift your employee a subscription to a meditation or yoga app to let them know that you care about the well-being of your staff. There are also personal development and reading apps, for example.

12. Spa package

Everyone loves a spa package! Having some quality time to relax, alone or with someone special, is rarely an unwelcome gift. Choose a nearby location and give a gift card to an employee who has earned it, or to the entire team.

Front desk of a wellness center
Young woman relaxing during a day at the spa

13. Surprise day off

This non-physical gift can be announced as a surprise: Next week, everyone’s off on Friday! Encouraging employees to take care of themselves or to enjoy some time to rest and relax is a valid form of recognition. If giving everyone some time off is impossible for your type of business, you can go with groups of employees.

14. Sports outing

Organize a group hike or an adventure course to reward your team while also cementing group cohesion. If a group outing isn’t an option, offer your employees an exercise budget, for example, a yoga or gym membership, or a family outing to a tree-to-tree adventure course.

Symbolic Company Gift

15. Plant 

A plant is a very symbolic gift. Some plants even have their own inherent symbols in different cultures. For example, a Crassula, or succulent plant, is a symbol of happiness and prosperity.

Pick a low-maintenance plant so that everyone can enjoy it, whether or not they have a green thumb. You can also put plants in decorative pots so that your employees will want to proudly display them at home, or even at work.

16. Book that’s meaningful to you 

Have you read a meaningful book that you think could benefit others? Gift it to your employee, and add a personal note on the front page. I personally find that Simon Sinek’s Start With Why is a great gift for anyone.

17. Handmade game set

Atelier-D makes handcrafted wooden game sets. The games produced by this Montreal company can be played as a couple, as a family or with a guest. These are the kinds of game sets you can leave out on the living room table for entertainment. You can check out their chess and tic-tac-toe sets, which are our personal favourites.

Unifying Corporate Gift

If you plan to give a gift that reflects the company’s image, at the very least, opt for a quality, original gift that will truly bring some joy to your team. Forget about water bottles that will start leaking after just a couple of weeks of use.

18. Item bearing the company logo 

Here at Agendrix, we were gifted a hoodie featuring the Agendrix colours and image, designed in-house and produced by Unique Wool. Everyone loved this thoughtful gift, and has been wearing it with pride. Whether you settle on a cap, a canteen, a coffee mug or a toque, this idea is always a winner, as long as it’s a quality item.

The originally Montreal-based brand Kotmo offers a range of corporate and promotional items, sold alone and in gift boxes. What sets them apart is that their products are designed in Quebec, and inspired by an eco-friendly philosophy.

Agendrix hoodie
The back of Agendrix hoodie

Handy Employee Gift 

19. Work equipment

If, for example, your employees regularly use a bottle opener, offer them a quality corkscrew with your company image on it. 

The possibilities are endless—all you have to do is tailor the gift to your workplace and your team’s needs.

Agendrix mask

20. Online PD course

Allocating a budget for a professional development course of the employee’s choice is a win/win for the company and the team. The course doesn’t have to relate directly to work; a plethora of training is available to help develop “soft” skills that can have a positive impact at work.

Personalized Form of Recognition

The takeaway from the 20 employee gift ideas above is this—personalize your employee gifts! When you take into account employees’ needs and tastes, you send the message that you really care about them. This, even more than the gift itself, speaks volumes.

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