Topping the list are nail clippers, an ill-fitting jacket emblazoned with the company logo, pajamas, “some kind of contraption to flush a toilet” and a European vacation slideshow presentation shared as a “gift” from one tone-deaf executive to his drastically downsized staff.
Each of these misguided gifts violates what Murphy calls the “no-nos of holiday gift-giving.” In short: don’t be too cheap, don’t re-gift and don’t give useless junk or weirdly personal items.
Why not? Because no employee ever dreamed of receiving a nail clipper from his or her boss.
What delights employees are holiday gifts that are meaningful, thoughtful, convey gratitude and are personalized without being too personal.
Gift-giving can be a minefield — and doubly so in the workplace — but options abound if you avoid the common pitfalls Murphy identifies and stick with holiday gifts that reflect and reinforce a positive image of yourself, your company and, most importantly, the employee. (Hint: nail clippers don’t fit the bill.)
Here are the top 10 holiday gift ideas that experts agree will make an employee’s “best of” list.
10) Say “Go-Go-Gadget!” and summon the latest high-tech electronics — Inc. identifies this year’s coolest gadgets, from noise-canceling headphones to a wristband meter that tracks your steps.
9) Business Insider suggests a membership to a gardening seeds club, for a gift that keeps on giving (and growing!).
8) Another Business Insider tip is to buy each employee land on a Scottish estate. Plots start at $49.99, and sales help fund woodland rescue, maintenance and new land acquisition to save it from development. Best of all, each purchase gives the owner a legal title of “Lord” or “Lady” in Scotland!
7) Susan Heathfield, a management consultant and writer of the Human Resources site at About.com, suggests small but meaningful gifts that can be monogrammed, such as a nice pen, luggage or leather notebook.
6) Food tops Margie Zable Fisher’s list of employee gifts under $50 at Entrepreneur.com, with helpful suggestions of classy treats at three budget levels.
5) A charitable donation on behalf of the employee is among the gift suggestions on Shrad Rao’s Wagepoint blog.
4) Forbes contributor Deborah Sweeney suggests a book, explaining: “Traditionally they aren’t considered the most exciting gift in the world, but I find that’s only true if the person giving you the book doesn’t understand what you like. Give a meaningful book that you know your employee will love on a subject that they would actively read about. Not sure what that is? Have a quick one-on-one lunch together to find out!”
3) Another of Sweeney’s holiday gift ideas is a bouquet of flowers. Since the holidays coincide with the winter solstice and the shortest day of the year, it couldn’t be a better time to brighten an employee’s day with a colorful array of flowers.
2) An online study in recent years found that employees overwhelmingly appreciate receiving a health club membership.
1) Gift cards and gift certificates are named again and again as a favorite holiday workplace gift in an informal survey by Suzanne Lucas at Inc., because they’re convenient, practical and flexible, not to mention easy to “dress up” and personalize as needed.
What’s the best holiday gift you’ve ever received from a boss and why? Share your story in the comments.
Want to read more about best practices in employee gift-giving? Download our “Ultimate Guide to Employee Gift-Giving” by clicking below:
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