The Budget-Friendly Employee Gift Guide

Show your appreciation with these COVID-friendly gift ideas

November 16, 2020


The holidays are traditionally a time when company leaders reflect, praise, and give back to their employees. And as we head into the holiday season this year, it’s important to show your employees some appreciation for all their hard work, especially since 2020 has been irregularly difficult for an abundance of reasons. Giving thanks and recognition to your staff is all-around good for business. It boosts morale, promotes an inclusive culture, and increases productivity. But most importantly, it’s just a nice thing to do!

That said, we know that the holidays are going to look a little different this year as we all stay home to keep each other safe and healthy. We also know that many organizations have had to make budget cuts to keep operations running during these difficult times. Given that this holiday season looks a little different, we’ve put together a list of (socially distanced) ideas that are sure to make your employees still feel appreciated and cheerful.

Low to No Cost Gift Options

COVID-19 changed business-as-usual for everyone. From backtracking bonuses to furloughs to canceled incentive plans, organizations have been forced to make severe cut-backs to stay afloat. In light of these struggles, it is more important than ever to take the time to recognize and thank your employees. Even though your budget may be stripped down, there are plenty of ways to show your team some love that won’t break the bank.

Handwritten “Thank You” notes from your company’s leaders. Why?
  • Kind words are powerful, and personalized recognition from top brass means a lot to employees.
  • It’s physical and employees can hold on to it as a keepsake on their desk. - An email is more generic and will get lost in their ever-expanding inbox.
    The only expense is the minimal cost of stationery and stamps!
Highlight employees on social media. Why?
  • Employees will be able to retweet/reshare on their social media, making them feel great about their career (and it also gives you some free marketing)!
  • This showcases that you’re an organization that takes the time to recognize employees’ accomplishments, which will benefit any future hiring efforts.
  • Zero cost but great impact!
Write employees a recommendation on LinkedIn. Why?
  • Recommendations are highly valuable when an employee decides to move on to their next opportunity, so they’ll greatly appreciate managers taking the time to write a positive rec.
  • Letting your employees know that you appreciate their work, and specifying what makes them a valuable asset to your team, will keep them on your team longer.
  • Again, this costs nothing but a bit of time.
Make time to get to know your team and to talk about their career goals. Why?
  • The average American works 44-hours a week. With so much time devoted to work, employees want to feel seen and understood by their managers and leadership team. They want to know that they are working towards greater career goals.
  • Managers taking time out of busy schedules to meet with employees proves they care about them and their future.


Mid-Range Gift Options

Perhaps your company was one of the lucky ones that wasn’t as negatively affected by the pandemic, or maybe it even boosted your sales! If gifts and holiday parties are still in your 2020 budget, we’ve got you covered. While a standard party likely isn’t doable, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to use that budget and give back to your team while we all safely work from home.

Roll out new company swag. Why?
  • Everyone likes the feeling of getting a gift, especially in the mail!
  • Swag reminds them that they’re part of a larger team.
  • You can scale depending on how much you want to spend on each item.
  • Try something pandemic-friendly like masks or something cozy like slippers.
Host a virtual trivia competition. Why?
  • It’s a team-building activity that lends itself well to a virtual format.
  • Try to host during working hours (3 or 4pm) so your team is also getting some time off.
  • You can invite partners and families to join, too.
  • If you have a smaller team, you can make your own trivia quizzes. Or, you can hire a professional virtual trivia host through TriviaHub for a reasonable price.
Host a virtual class. Like a…
  • Sip & Paint night
  • Yoga or fitness class
  • Cooking or Mixology lesson
  • Again this will bring your team together in a structured way and families can join (depending on the subject matter).
Send employees a care package. Why?
Give a digital gift card. Like…
  • “Have a coffee on me!” - Starbucks or Dunkin’
  • “Lunch is on the house!” - Panera, Chipotle, or Cheesecake Factory
  • If you have a smaller team, you can give employees gift cards to their favorite spots. Or, if you’re a larger organization, pick one place and buy in bulk.
  • Always pair gift cards with a note. While receiving money is great, words of thanks go a lot farther.


No matter your budget and no matter your team size, make an effort to give thanks to your employees over these next few months. We are all busy and it’s easy to forget how important employee-appreciation is to the overall strength of your team and business. And working from home can be isolating and you can forget that you’re part of a bigger team. Not only are you recognizing employees’ hard work but, you’re reminding them they’re part of a team and a greater mission.

Feeling valued also motivates people to work harder, which will increase your overall productivity. As the winter months approach and we all continue to quarantine, a simple note of gratitude to an employee or colleague can really brighten up their day, especially as life outside of work is extra challenging this year. Uplift your team by utilizing the above ideas to show them how much you care!


About Fetcher

At Fetcher, our mission is to introduce companies to the people who will help them change the world. Our full-service, recruting automation platform automates those repetitive, top-of-funnel tasks, so you can focus more on candidate engagement & team collaboration. Simplify Sourcing. Optimize Outreach. Hire Top Talent. Learn more at

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