26 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas to Show Your Gratitude

Cassy Aite
July 20, 2022
26 Employee Appreciation Day Ideas to Show Your Gratitude

Your employees have worked hard this year, and deserve more than a verbal “thank you.“ But figuring out creative and delightful ways to show your appreciation is easier said than done.

If you’ve found yourself scratching your head and wondering how you can celebrate your employees, you’re not alone. 

With Employee Appreciation Day fast approaching, we’ve created a fun, comprehensive list of employee appreciation ideas to help you make your team—including remote employees—feel truly special and appreciated.

Let’s get started!

Why Employee Appreciation Day matters

Appreciation plays a big role in team performance. 

Employees who do exceptional work ask for one thing above all else: personalized recognition. According to a recent study by Great Place to Work, 37% of employees say recognition is the most important motivator at work and an essential component to high job satisfaction. 

Despite this, according to O.C. Tanner’s 2022 Global Culture Report, only 54% of employees believe their managers know how to offer meaningful recognition. This can have a substantial impact on employee trust in their leaders since only 48% of employees place high trust in leaders who don’t provide regular recognition.  

Thankfully, becoming the type of leader that recognizes their team doesn’t have to be difficult.  With a little preparation, you can find the perfect way to thank your team just in time for March 4th. Our Employee Appreciation Day ideas will guarantee your team feels acknowledged and valued.

Virtual employee appreciation ideas

Hosting a virtual get-together is a great way to publicly celebrate your employees’ contributions. Get your team members to enjoy a digital team-building activity together, like a virtual escape room, murder mystery party, or a tiny campfire. This gives your team an opportunity to build relationships and have fun in the middle of their workday.

1. Set up a tasting session

Looking to revive happy hour? Virtual wine or scotch tasting events offer your team a unique way to unwind on a Friday. For the right team, these virtual happy hour tasting sessions could even become a monthly event! 

2. Provide a soothing cup

If your team prefers to abstain, or a boozy event doesn’t fit your company culture, Tea vs Coffee provides an equally enjoyable alcohol-free alternative. 

3. Prepare a dessert buffet

Put together a scrumptious dessert buffet for your employees to enjoy. From fresh croissants, to moist cake, to a sundae bar, let your team members enjoy their favorite dessert at work.

4. Share embarrassing work moments

Nothing breaks the ice better than sharing embarrassing moments. 

Whether it’s getting locked in the office, answering the phone wrong, or sending a job offer to the wrong candidate, encourage employees to open up about their not-so-fine moments at work and reward ones that make others laugh the hardest. This also fosters a relaxed company culture that says it's okay to make mistakes. 

5. ​​Capture gratitude on video

Have the business owner or the CEO record a personalized thank you video, and send it to all employees. Make sure the message isn’t boring or generic—you want to wow your employees, not bore them.

Look at how Loom Founder Joe Thomas uses the software to share a fun moment with his team. We love the upbeat music and casual vibe!

6. Have an impromptu awards ceremony

Instead of those typical team-building activities, host an impromptu award ceremony to up the level of fun. What’s more, your award ceremony can be as grand or as modest as you like.

Order a bunch of sashes and get creative with award titles. Our favorites? ‘The Culture Expert,‘ ‘The Taskmaster,’ ‘The Social Butterfly,‘ ‘The One Who Knows It All‘, and ‘The Best Hidden Talent.‘ 

Notice how all title awards are fun and not offensive in any way? You want the same for your titles. 

7. Stretch it out with virtual yoga 

Wellness gifts are a unique way to show your appreciation and combat employee burnout. 

For example, sending employees a yoga mat may encourage them to use it, but setting up a virtual yoga class once a month or a fitness app subscription can take your appreciation to the next level. 

Low-cost employee appreciation ideas

Employee appreciation gifts don’t have to be expensive to be memorable. There are plenty of ways to celebrate your team on a budget! 

8. Make them internet famous

Post your appreciation on your company’s social media channels to thank your employees.

Use an online graphic design software like Canva to create fun posts using an employee’s photo and add a description praising them for their contributions. Take a cue from Compass Courier USA: 


9. Give them an unexpected day off

The most valuable way to recognize your employees’ hard work is to give them some much-needed time off. Let them do something else besides work.

Encourage employees to indulge in their hobby, go on a short trip to an amusement park, spend time with family, or simply make up for all those lost Zzzs. 

10. Go for fun and games 

A trivia or game night is an awesome way to bring a hybrid team together. Even if some of your employees are virtual, it'll feel like you’re all in the same room as you’re racing through trivia questions.

At the same time, you must ensure that everyone on your team can participate in the game equally before the event. Make it even more memorable by buying lunch or dinner for your team (and, of course, Hoppier gift cards for your employees working remotely).

11. Present a lunch and chat

You can also buy the team lunch and prioritize publicly sharing the impact each employee had on you, the team, and the company this year. From there, invite the rest of the team to share the impact another employee had on them. 

Give the team plenty of notice so they can think about who they want to acknowledge. This is the perfect way to start almost any employee appreciation event, but it can also be incredibly impactful on its own.

12. Write heartfelt notes by hand

Double down on your appreciation by recording each employee’s recognition in a handwritten card. Then, send the card to your employee a month or more after the event. This heartfelt reminder of the impact your employee has on the team is a great way to keep the spirit of recognition and appreciation alive beyond March 4th. 

13. Clean the office space

Greet your employees on Employee Appreciation Day with a fully stocked workplace kitchen and fresh and sanitized bathrooms. Hire a cleaning room to vacuum, dust, and clean office space and buy their favorite snacks for lunchtime. 

14. Have a family day

Another great way to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day is to show your gratitude in front of your employees' loved ones. Moreover, as employees will be meeting each other’s families, the connections they make here will become stronger and run deeper than your typical everyday office interactions.

Employee Appreciation Day food ideas

There’s a reason why donuts always disappear in the office—everyone loves celebrating with food. Whether you’re bonding over cake in the breakroom or enjoying morning coffee over Zoom, food is surely an excellent way to bring the team together and show your appreciation.

15. Donate personalized snacks

Any event is made better with food. Contact your local bakery to prepare small cookies or cupcakes with your employees' names. You can also have customized toppers made to give the sweet treats an elevated touch. 

16. Gift coffee and snack box subscriptions 

These are awesome gifts that keep on giving. Combine your subscription with a regular bi-weekly coffee break focused on acknowledging your employees for their recent contributions. Providing regular recognition is important to keep employee engagement high

17. Host remote team cooking classes 

Cooking together offers a unique way to bond over food, especially on a Friday afternoon.

You can send employees the exact ingredients they need to participate, making this an easy and engaging way to connect. Plus, a homemade meal gives your employees' families a reason to appreciate you, too!

18. Encourage a nice dinner out

Go above and beyond and buy your employees dinner that Friday night. Give them a few hours off their workday and encourage your team to take their family or a friend out to dinner (you’ll get the tab). 

Hoppier’s flexible gift cards make it easy to let your team choose where they’ll enjoy their employee appreciation dinner. 

Ideas for employee appreciation gifts

Fitting in an employee appreciation event can be challenging for teams working in different time zones or during the busy season. But that doesn’t mean you have to overlook Employee Appreciation Day! 

These ideas for employee appreciation gifts offer a great alternative to adding another meeting to your calendar.

​​19. Make a charitable donation

Make a small donation to a charity that supports a cause close to your employee‘s heart. 

Does your accounts manager love dogs? Donate in their name to the local animal shelter. Does your CEO care about climate change? Find a suitable environmental cause that fights deforestation or supports renewable energy.

Get the drift?

20. Let them design their own giveaways

You may have the coolest company swag, but Employees Appreciation Day calls for a personalized touch. Invite your employees to design their own T-shirt, mug, jacket, or any other giveaway. Let them have fun and be creative!

21. Have a fun caricature session

Invite a caricature artist to make funny drawings of everyone, and let the employees take theirs home. A super fun way to remember Employee Appreciation Day until next year!

22. Gift them comedy or music—or both!

Give your employees a personal concert or comedy show. Invite a local musician or comedian—or both if you’re really feeling it—to entertain your employees. There’s no medicine like music or laughter, and your employees will surely enjoy this fun session with their workmates.

23. Make Polaroid memories

Bring a couple of Polaroid cameras and let employees click silly and memorable photos. You can also provide them with wacky wigs and silly props to make the session even more fun. 

Don’t forget the big group photo towards the end!

24. Give them a small allowance

You can show employees you care even with a small budget. After all, it’s the thought that counts! Give your team a small allowance to make some table or work-from-home upgrades. Things like refreshing their stationery or buying a desk organizer will make a refreshing change.

25. Offer Spa self-care

Employees can also use their Hoppier gift cards to purchase massages, facials, and other spa services with vendors like SpaFinder. 

26. Provide entertainment subscriptions

Access to Netflix, Spotify, Masterclass, or Audible makes a great alternative to events, too. These virtual gifts offer employees ways to enjoy their off-time and offset the costs of things they enjoy, making them a perfect way to show your appreciation. 

Make Employee Appreciation Day more interactive with Hoppier

These employee appreciation event ideas and gifts are a great place to start. But, you can take your appreciation to new heights with Hoppier virtual cards. 

Our cards offer you an easy and affordable way to give your employees gifts they actually want. Simply set up a gift card balance, a spending deadline, and your chosen vendors to empower employees to choose a gift they’ll truly appreciate. Our large and diverse range of vendors will safely deliver their orders to their locations.

The Employee Appreciation Day your team will remember

Recognizing your staff is important all year long, and Employee Appreciation Day is a great reminder to show our teams how valued and appreciated they are. Even if you aren’t going all out planning a week-long staff appreciation event calendar, there are plenty of meaningful ways to say thank you to your employees. 

Ready to make employee appreciation part of your company culture? Schedule your demo to create a consistent employee recognition program today.

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo


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