In the Trenches: What to Give Employees for the Holidays?

It’s that time of year again; it’s time to think about holiday gifts. It’s hard enough to figure out what to get for family and friends at this time of year, but as a small business owner, I find it even more difficult to know what to get for the people that make the business run as well as it does.

On the one hand, there’s always the idea of plain old cash. It’s hard to go wrong with that, right? I know people like getting cash from the people they work for, but it also strikes me as the easy way out. It shows a level of appreciation in that I’m digging into the no-so-deep pockets of the business, but it simply doesn’t seem to get the message across clearly enough that what everyone does is really important.

I know some people like buying things like Christmas hams or (in theory, though I haven’t seen it in years) fruitcakes, but that seems even worse to me. Not only does it show little creativity, but it is also likely to not really be needed or even remotely wanted. That’s no good.

And that latter point is really the biggest issue. It’s hard to know exactly what people want in their personal lives when I usually interact with them on a professional level. Sure, I know something about them personally, but it’s not the same as a friend buying a gift.

So, I’m sifting through some ideas now that will hopefully get that right mix between usefulness and thoughtfulness. I don’t want to reveal too much, since I think some of my people read this column. Maybe I’ll just have to check back in and write a follow up after it’s done.

What are you all thinking about giving for your holiday presents?

About Brett Snyder

Brett is the Founder and President of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. He also writes the consumer air travel blog, The Cranky Flier.
This entry was posted in Employees and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.
7 comments
Gigi Bozzano
Gigi Bozzano

I like to give my staff money in addition to their choice of any two additional days off of their choice during the year. Everyone loves a little extra cash to shop the after the holidays sales and gifting them with two extra days off cuts down on "blue flu" days.

ChuckMO
ChuckMO

Amazon.com gift cards are the way to go Brett, if they don't have it, you don't need it!

Marvin B Zwerin
Marvin B Zwerin

I have the fortunate complication of having sold my business last year. I am continuing to work for the acquiring company and my old staff is still tending to my needs on a daily basis. I know that the new employer is giving them something, but I decided it was still appropriate for me to do so as well. After a lot of thought, I chose to give each of them a Visa gift-card in an amount commensurate with their length of service and former seniority. Yes, it's a cop-out, but I know that everyone could use the "cash" for their own Christmas shopping needs right about now. And yes, I most certainly thank them for their work, but I do it constantly, not just at the end of the year!

judy nagy
judy nagy

Unless you are intimate friends with your employees, give them cold hard cash. Plus a hand-written note/card if you like. It's ridiculous to waste time trying to figure out what someone wants unless you know them very well. My employees have always appreciated the money .. we be sure that they have it 3 weeks before Christmas for their personal shopping.

Jean M
Jean M

We have most often gone with checks, with the amount dependent on length of service. (We distribute a separate profit-sharing bonus at year's end as well, again factoring in length of service but also how well the company has done.) A personal note or phone call expressing appreciation for the employee's contributions accompanies the check.We have also given Omaha Steak packages to individual employees, again with the size dependent on length of service. That company offers some very good deals, some of which even include free shipping. These food packages have been well-received because they are good quality and are convenient to use.In the past, we have also given general "to the office" gifts from Harry & David--primarily their pears. Premium fruits are healthy choices, and have been well-received.Several years ago, we gave out iPod nanos. This year, V/P level staff (who use their cell phones heavily for business) received Series 1 Bose bluetooth earphones, which provide exceptional voice clarity. A support staffer who travels for work received a Bose noise-cancelling headset.

Steve Kalman
Steve Kalman

As an advanced amateur photographer, I give a packet of cards they can use through the year. I print them myself and include 10 cards. I split the packet up among various scenes from around the world.If I didn't have that alternative, I'd give gift cards, perhaps eBay cards (Kmart sells them) or Amex gift cards. Slightly more upscale than cash, but still with no chance of return.

Jennifer
Jennifer

All of my employees are female, so I'm going with either pearl necklaces or enameled business card cases.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] In the Trenches: What to Give Employees for the Holidays? – Intuit Small Business Blog It’s holiday time, and that means it’s time to figure out the best gift to give to those who contribute to the success of the business. But what should it be? [...]