10 Employee Appreciation Gifts That Break the Mold and Shatter Expectations
Tips & Tricks
min read

10 Employee Appreciation Gifts That Break the Mold and Shatter Expectations

Your employees matter to you—show them with gifts that won't be forgotten.

Showing your employees the appreciation they deserve can come in many forms.

We’ve heard it all before, right? The pizza parties, the movie days, the in-office masseuse. But what happens when you’ve played all the hits already? Times are changing faster than ever and holding onto great talent is this season's highest priority - so put down the Papa John’s coupons and take a look at our top ten gifts to show your team that employee appreciation day is an every-day feeling in this office. 

Now, obviously we're partial to custom t-shirts when it comes to showing your employees that you value them and that they're part of something greater than themselves—and we think they do a pretty good job of that. But, there are also other ways to get the job done, so we're taking off our biased hat as much as possible to give you some cool alternatives!

With that, let's get into it: 

Gifts They’ll Use at Their Desks

1. A Self-Heating Mug

There is nothing worse than taking a sip of your coffee or tea and being greeted with the frigid, neglected liquid you somehow forgot you brewed three hours ago. Whether you’re working from home or in the office, a self-heating mug is the perfect desk companion to keep your drinks steamy and your will to live intact. 

Where to buy it: This set comes in three colors and has been described as, “the best cup warmer I’ve used. It saved my sani-tea!” Snag one on Amazon for $38.99.

2. A Mini Desk Humidifier 

Between the changing seasons and the unforgiving tundra some offices can be, it’s really no mystery as to why everything just feels dry sometimes. Your hands, your face, your lungs - all desperately gasping for a bit of moisture. Don’t let your employees suffer a moment longer. 

Where to buy it: Rehydrate in three colors and a medley of choices, including this cactus shaped option from Amazon for $14.59.

3. A Pack of Anxiety-Reducing Fidget Toys

It goes without saying that work can be pretty stressful sometimes. Life, in general, can take a toll as well. After taking a poll on a few stress-relief options employees would like to see in the workplace, this variety pack of fidget toys came in at number three. Numbers one and two were a “screaming room'' and ''crying room” respectively. We assume you already have those in place, though.

Where to buy it: Gather up the goods in various multipacks here on Amazon starting at $18.99.

4. A Mini Inflatable Tube Man (Why Not???) 

There are few things in this world that inspire instant happiness in the same way as  seeing a giant inflatable tube man flailing about without a care in the world. Except possibly, a mini inflatable tube man. This silly, simple desk toy is merely the kindling to spark joy in someone’s day. A worthwhile gift, always. 

Where to buy it: Give the gift of laughter on Amazon for $6.79.

5. A Desktop Food Warmer

Who has the time to stand in line around the microwave? This adorable mini Crock Pot is perfect for the person who wants the convenience of knowing their food is ready and evenly warmed up for them whenever they need it. Bonus: lots of reviews mentioned no smells escape the warmer, meaning you don’t have to worry about upsetting any nearby co-workers with the overwhelming smell of garlic and onions (whatever you’re eating sounds delicious, save us some) but instead keeps everything locked up tight.

Where to buy it: 20 oz. capacity, dishwasher safe, comes in several colors. Pick it up on Amazon starting at $24.99..

Gifts They’ll Actually Use…Any/Everywhere

6. A Reusable Notebook

It’s no secret that everyone is a little more conscious of their carbon footprint these days, so what better gift for the avid note-taker than a reusable notebook! Each notebook comes with 42 pages and 7 different page styles for planning, listing, note-taking and sketching. Once you’re finished with a page, you can send it off to your preferred cloud service (we’re a Google Drive fam, personally) and then wipe the page to start again. 

Where to buy it: Get them the last notebook they’ll ever need on Amazon for $30.27, comes in nine colors.

7. Pot-It-Yourself Box

It has been said that the more plants you have in your home, the happier you are. This fancy do-it-yourself box set comes with everything you need to amp those good vibes all the way up, including two nearly impossible to kill succulents. Just in case they like a challenge though, maybe include the handy guide: “How Not To Kill Your Houseplants”

Where to buy it: Find the succulent kit and more at The Nice Plant for $59.99 and How to Not Kill Your Houseplants on Amazon for $11.15.

8. Gift Cards

Gift cards are often thought of as an impersonal gift, but we disagree. Giving your employees the power of choosing their own gifts speaks volume. Instead of guessing what kind of humorous desk ornament or comfy slipper they might be interested in, they can pick out something tailored to their very specific tastes, or grab a bite to eat, or spend it on a movie with their loved ones. Never underestimate the magic a gift card can create. 

One thing we especially love about giving the gift of a gift card: it's a cool way to encourage your employees to support a local business. Getting them a gift card to a favorite shop or restaurant in town serves dual purposes: your employee and your community both get some love! It also communicates a bit more care and intentionality than simply throwing your employee a standard gift card to Starbucks or some other big corporation.

Where to buy it: This one's kinda self-explanatory. You can get the gift card at the place of business itself, or most big stores have a "gift card wall" where you can find some standard offerings.

9. Custom T-Shirts, Hats, Totes, or...Whatever.

Say it with me: we love super soft custom t-shirts. We love them in the summer. We love them in the winter. We love ‘em all year long. A team shirt with a great design will live on long after the season is over and it’s a super easy way to bring the entire squad together. You’re not just gifting the whole crew a shirt, you’re gifting the spirit of camaraderie. So when you walk into happy hour together, everybody knows the cool kids have finally arrived. 

Where to buy it: Snag the whole team some swag at Real Thread, duh. Need some help prepping your design or have a few questions before you move forward? Talk to the team and we'll get you sorted.

10. A Pound of Cereal Marshmallows (Obviously)

When you’ve done all there is to show your appreciation and you finally make your way to the end of this list, there’s only one thing left to give them. A full pound of cereal marshmallows. The kind they always ate first out of their Lucky Charms as a kid before they set off to have the best day ever. The purest form of innocence and adventure. A sugar rush of magical proportions. It’s basically like giving them the gift of childlike wonder and really, nothing tops that. 

Where to buy it: Set the bar incredibly high with cereal marshmallows on Amazon for $10.99.

The Bottom Line

No matter what you do, remember that what employees really want is to feel seen and heard. There are endless ways to show your appreciation as an employer, but the most important thing you can give them is a thank you. Because without them, the ship doesn’t sail. Happy Employee Appreciation Day, every day!

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