50 Best Small Gift Ideas for Employees to Show Appreciation

Cassy Aite
May 2, 2022
50 Best Small Gift Ideas for Employees to Show Appreciation

Giving small gifts to employees is a delicate art, because you need to strike the right balance between thoughtfulness and professionalism. Predictable T-shirts, printed keychains, and cheesy mugs are good gifts for your employees, but they’re hardly awesome

Your employees are an indispensable asset to the company and deserve next-level recognition and appreciation, i.e. gifts that they would actually use and appreciate.

The only problem? Finding cool gifts at the appropriate cost is surprisingly tough. That’s why we did the hard work to curate some amazing small gift ideas for employees that make a big impact on a limited budget.

Let’s get exploring!

What makes a good small gift idea for employees?

Ideally, we should feel lucky to get gifts at all. But if we’re honest, it’s rare to get a gift we truly adore. So what sets these gifts apart from the usual ones? Here are the factors that make a small gift click:

Inexpensive

Nobody minds getting the latest iPhone or a piece of high-end jewelry, but you can’t go about giving them to every employee on your team. It'll be expensive and impractical.

That's why it’s better to stick to minimal, low-key options within $50 when picking small gifts for employees. When done right, these gifts will make just as big an impact as the flashy ones (if not more). 

How? 58% of respondents are happy to just hear simple words of encouragement like "Thank You” or “Great Job” from their employers. Now imagine combining these kind words with a gift.

Exactly.

Unique

Buying a good gift means picking out something unique that your employees don’t currently own. Or perhaps haven’t even thought about owning one because they haven’t discovered it yet. 

We get it: this is easier said than done. But it's also not impossible. Make general gifts more fun by thinking of a unique angle. For instance, if your employees love coffee, arrange a coffee-making or a coffee brewing session instead of giving them a coffee bean hamper.

Get it?

Memorable

Picking out a memorable gift goes hand-in-hand with buying something unique. When you select something unique or personal enough, the gift will easily be memorable. 

But how do you choose a memorable gift? Ask yourself whether your employees will still remember the gift in the next few years. If the answer is no, skip it and look for something else. Keep trying until you finally say “yes.”

Practical

The best small gift ideas for employees aren’t those that add positives — but those that remove negatives. Read that again.

When picking gifts, think about how they‘ll solve a problem in your employee’s life. For example, if your employees are parents or pet owners, you can give them a gift certificate for a few days of babysitting or pet sitting. Similarly, you can plan a party or gift them an all-expenses-paid outing to give them a break from the everyday monotony of life.

Thoughtful

Finding thoughtful small gifts takes a little extra time, but it’s a super effective way to show your employees you care. 

The best way to go about this is to think of small details about your employees. Have they mentioned they need anything? If yes, then give them exactly that. If you don't have that kind of budget, look for more affordable alternatives. 

You can also give them something related to a special or fun memory that you and your employees share together. The tried-and-tested idea we love? Consider giving your employee a thought-provoking book, complete with a personal note from you or the CEO. That's sure to boost employee engagement now and in the future.

Meaningful

The good thing about small gifts is you have a lot of flexibility to make them meaningful. 

For instance, you could give a stress buster customized with a positive quote to an employee who you know takes on too much stress. Or, you can make a small donation to any charity of your employee's choice. 

Essentially, you want your gift to mean something to the employee, and the only way to achieve this is to think from their perspective.

Of course, you don’t have to check all the above boxes when listing the best small gift ideas for employees. But these factors are undoubtedly great guidelines to ensure your budget gifts are thoughtful and creative, helping you make a good impression on your crew.

50 creative small gift ideas for employees for inspiration

Below, we’ve compiled a list of the best small gift ideas for employees that are suitable for any occasion. From birthdays and work anniversaries to corporate gifts and official calendared gift-giving holidays, here are our top recommendations to make your employees feel special and valued, regardless of the occasion.

1. A work-from-home survival kit

A work-from-home survival kit is a personalized box designed to solve common remote work struggles.

Curate one-of-a-kind packages filled with delicious and healthy snacks, company swag, and other practical items like earplugs and a webcam cover. You can also add fun stuff like a fidget spinner and scented candles that employees can use in their spare time.

Alternatively, you can have employees curate their own work-from-home kits. Give them Hoppier’s virtual cards to pick up things they like from global shopping platforms like Amazon and Best Buy. Not only can you customize the design of each virtual card, but you can also set the dollar amount that can be extended in future credit or refunded.

2. A Bluetooth speaker

A portable bluetooth speaker is often the standard choice for employers, and not without reason. This piece of technology is a fun and useful gift for both home and office parties.

3. Noise-canceling headphones

Unwanted noise makes it difficult for employees to focus on work, which is why they’ll appreciate a pair of good-quality noise-canceling headphones. You may have to spend a bit more, but when you factor in the boost in productivity and greater peace of mind the device will give your crew, it’s more than worth it.

4. A beer caddy

Got beer lovers and campers on your team who love winding down with a fizzy bottle of cold beer? A beer caddy would make the perfect gift. While Amazon offers some great beer caddy options, we recommend buying from a dedicated website that lets you personalize it for a special touch.

5. Essential oil diffuser

Help your employees re-energize after a long day at work with an essential oil diffuser. Include soothing and fragrant essential oils like lavender, rosemary, and chamomile that will help them sleep better and relax.

6. A tablet

Amazon and Samsung have an amazing collection of affordable tablets that your employees will love. You can also combine it with other tech accessories like a stylus, an interactive pencil, and a tablet stand to take your gift to the next level.

Buying a tablet is a bit of a splurge, so this gift is better for celebrating special milestones and work anniversaries.

7. A charging station

Skip the power bank, and give your tech-savvy team members a charging station that lets them charge multiple devices at once while keeping their desks organized and clutter-free. You can easily find them online and (often) at discounted rates, too!

8. Custom name plates for desks

We cannot recommend personalized name plates enough if you’re looking to congratulate employees on their promotion with a thoughtful small gift. 

Choose stunning and unique designs that will get the star treatment and place of honor on their desks.

9. Books

Gifting books isn't old-fashioned. Or boring. But you want to be absolutely sure the employee you‘re buying the book for is an avid book reader.

Pick the latest bestseller or stay safe with classics. You can even swap opinions and thoughts with them as you both read it to build a healthier relationship. If your friend enjoys spending time in the kitchen, a cookbook works just as well.

10. Kindle

If there is anything close to gifting an actual book, it’s a Kindle that lets them carry unlimited books wherever they go.

11. A virtual mixology or sushi-making class

Hire a mixologist or a Japanese chef to lead your team through a virtual mixology or sushi-making experience respectively. Give your employees the option to master cool mixology techniques or learn the art of rolling delicious sushis—both from the comfort of their homes.

12. Free e-learning courses

Employees appreciate an employer who takes interest in their personal and professional goals. In fact, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn.

Gift your staff the ability to learn new skills and to learn from field experts. Opt for Hoppier’s virtual cards to sponsor world-class professional courses from Udemy and Udacity. The fact that this will make employees better at their jobs is another amazing benefit for the company.

13. Make a charitable donation

If you have an employee on your team who feels passionate about a cause, help them give back to society by donating to a charity of their choice on their behalf.

14. A self-care kit

Allow your workforce to indulge in self-care by sending customized self-care kits.

Don’t forget to have separate kits for your male and female employees. If you’re confused, consult your team about what they like in their kits to help them truly relax and unwind.

15. Self-watering planter

While small planters like a succulent or peace lily are great options, not everyone has a green thumb, nor the time and initiative to look after them.

On the other hand, a self-watering plant lets them add greenery to their spaces without maintenance. It'll also make a great gift for employees who like growing their own ingredients like chilies and herbs.

16. Personal fitness equipment

If you have a fitness conscious or gym buff on your team, consider gifting them personal fitness equipment.

No, you don't have to splurge on dumbbells or a spin bike—simple fitness items like yoga mats, resistance bands, or a jump rope works just as well. Alternatively, you can give them a free one-month subscription to a fitness class or a gym of their choice.

17. Extended vacation

Who doesn’t like a day (or two!) off from work?

Allow employees to spend some extra time with their friends and family as a token of appreciation for all their hard work. This will also send a positive message that you’re a responsible employer who cares about their well-being and work-life balance.

18. An exquisite fine dining experience

Celebrate your employee’s birthday by giving them a fine-dining experience in a beautiful restaurant renowned for its delicious food in the city. 

Trust us; nothing beats a good culinary experience!

19. Event tickets

When we say event tickets, we mean free tickets to any enjoyable event your staff likes.

For example, if your team would enjoy some laughs, give them tickets to their favorite standup comedian’s show. Or, if they are music lovers, arrange tickets to their favorite artist’s concert. In case you have sports fanatics on your team, let them cheer for their favorite team live from the arena.

20. Traveling allowance

Assisting your employees with their traveling expenses is another thoughtful small gift.

Arrange for subsidized bus and taxi fares that make it easier for them to commute to work safely. Otherwise, you can give them a small stipend to help with their daily traveling expenses.

21. A mindfulness box 

A mindfulness box is just how it sounds—a wellness box filled with carefully picked items to maximize good vibes and happiness.

Your package can include stress-busting items like a stress ball, nutritious treats and snacks, handpicked mindfulness activities, and scented candles. You can also add a Hoppier virtual card to the mix, offering employees free subscriptions to wellness apps like Calm and Headspace.

22. An activity tracker or a fitness band watch

With people increasingly becoming conscious about their health, an activity tracker or a fitness band watch will make a great small gift for your employees. These devices can track total calories burned, distance walked, and sleep patterns, among other things, to help them lead healthier, happier lives.

23. Subscription to OTT platforms

If there’s one thing you can never go wrong with when picking small gifts for employees, it’s a subscription to either Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. If you want to take the road less traveled, gift them an Audible subscription where they can listen to audiobooks on the go.

24. A charcuterie gift set

A gift set of charcuterie strikes the right balance between practical and fancy. Expect meat-based products like sausage, ham, and bacon, along with a wide variety of cheeses and other accompaniments like sauces and jams.

25. Custom bobbleheads

Make employees laugh out loud seeing bobbleheads that look just like them. The good thing about this creative employee gift idea is that not only is the bobblehead inexpensive, but it’s also unique and personal. Your crew will surely cherish it.

26. An engraved cutting board

Staying within the budget can be difficult when you have several employees to buy gifts for. Make it personal by giving custom engraved cutting boards featuring employee initials or their last names.

27. The Escape Room

Arrange for an exhilarating team experience where employees get together and put on their thinking caps to solve an Escape Room puzzle. 

Trust us; it’s even more fun than it sounds!

28. A color pen set

This small gift idea is the perfect gift for that one employee who is always misplacing their pens. Buy high-quality pen sets that are good to look at and hold so that your employee is a bit more careful to not lose them. You can use this idea for other employees who love stationery, too!

29. A Himalayan salt lamp

Soothing to look at, a Himalayan salt lamp makes an aesthetic gift that adds a pop of warm light to any room.

30. A mini waffle maker

A mini waffle maker is an excellent gift for anyone who takes breakfast seriously — or just likes waffles. You can also add a small recipe booklet containing fun recipes, from delicious Belgian waffles to flavorful fajitas. Who knows, they may even bring these tasty treats to work. 

31. Conversation starter cards

Help employees become masters of words by giving them conversation starter cards. These card sets cover a wide range of topics, from imaginative to thought-provoking, to help them strike up strong conversations.

32. Dessert making kit + class

Hold a team-building event for employees with a sweet tooth. Arrange for a dessert-making class, where they can get together and make delectable desserts from chocolate truffles to fresh fruit tarts—or really anything sweet and delicious.

In addition to signing them up for the class, provide them with the ingredients and equipment necessary for the full experience.

33. A digital photo frame

Nobody has the time anymore to print and frame special photos with loved ones. Let your employees keep their most cherishable moments right by their side by gifting them a digital photo frame, where they can add images of their family, pets, and friends.

34. Desktop vacuum

Tiny and oh-so-functional, a desktop vacuum collects dust, crumbs, and lint to support easy workplace organization. Choose between battery-operated and wireless models in bold or discrete colors.

35. Personalized reusable water bottles

A reusable, well-designed, and personalized water bottle is a gift that keeps on giving. Being lightweight and easy to transport, they are not only functional but also super stylish. Write an encouraging message or simply engrave employee names on the bottle to score brownie points.

36. Gratitude journals and writing pads

If any one of your employees is big on journaling, give them a gratitude journal or writing pad as encouragement to foster self-awareness and personal growth. This will help them reflect on mistakes, enjoy their accomplishments, and set personal and professional goals that keep them organized and focused.

37. Portable cocktail kit

Have employees who are always catching flights? Let them enjoy a happy buzz mid-air with a small cocktail kit. Every kit typically has some syrup, flavors, spoons, and a recipe booklet.

38. A luxurious spa session

Indulge your employees in a relaxing spa session with their peers. Book them an appointment for basic services like a facial, body massage, or manicure/pedicure to show your genuine recognition of employee efforts.

39. A bath bomb gift set

Gifting a bath bomb set is a more affordable alternative to a spa session. Curate a few essential oil bath bombs featuring delicious senses like strawberry, coconut, and lavender to help your employees unwind and pamper their senses.

40. Bluetooth keyboard

If a Bluetooth speaker sounds predictable, give them a Bluetooth keyboard for their home office and have them bid farewell to wires and plugs. Don’t worry; you'll find many affordable and sleek models from renowned brands like Logitech.

41. Touchscreen gloves

If you’re looking for a practical Christmas or Thanksgiving gift for your employees, give touchscreen gloves a try. These gloves allow users to check their email or shoot a quick text without wrestling off mittens and facing the cold wind. Other designs have a textured palm grip that gives you a sturdy hold onto devices even in the slipperiest of conditions.

42. A decanter

Give their barware collection a sophisticated flair with a decanter to store alcohol. We recommend looking for molded designs to get that high-end crystal-cut effect while staying within the budget.

43. A handwritten note

Nothing beats a handwritten note recognizing their efforts and contribution. Write down a personal note or letter and give it to them in person. Even better if you can include specific events highlighting their wins.

44. Virtual yoga class

Gift them a quick wellness session for their mind and body. Attending yoga classes will make employees more focused during the day as well as relax and unwind for a good night’s sleep. You can also incorporate these into monthly wellness initiative to improve company culture around wellbeing.

45. Make them a customized emoji

Just like a bobblehead, a custom emoji is an unexpected and fun gift. You can create emojis of their face, pet, or something else they love.

46. A shoulder massage

Dial down your employees’ stress levels by going all out with a shoulder massager. Many models have Shiatsu massage nodes, which along with a heating function, work wonders to relax the back, neck, and shoulders. Your employees will thank you.

47. A meal kit from their favorite restaurant

Bring their favorite restaurant right to their doorstep. Deliver a meal kit that includes top-selling items from iconic eateries to enjoy with their family.

48. Plush blankets

Make them warm and comfortable in the cool of the office or the thick of winter with a plush, cozy blanket. If you want to make it more fun, consider getting those wearable blankets that look (and feel) like long hoodies.

49. An acupressure mat and pillow set

One of the more unique small gift ideas, acupressure mats and pillows are designed to help relieve sore muscles, take away tension and stress, and reduce headaches while the user lays on them. And yes, they don’t have to do anything else. 

Amazing, right?

50. A gift card

If all else fails, gift cards will always be there to your rescue. Give them Hoppier’s virtual cards that offer partnerships with millions of vendors in 60+ countries. They decide what to buy — all while staying within the decided budget.

Make your employees feel valued with small gifts

Small gifts for employees prove that it really is the thought that counts. 

While finding something meaningful and unique will take time, the reward of making employees feel appreciated and valued makes it more than worth it, especially considering the positive effect it'll have on employee engagement, morale, and retention.

We’ve filled this guide with feasible small gift ideas for employees that would work for all situations, be it birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays. But if you want to make your gifts even more personalized and convenient, don’t wait to partner with Hoppier. See Hoppier in action.

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