Gifts customized to suit the recipient’s taste and interest always remain the best choice. For instance, the best gift for an avid reader is a good book, and the best gift for an employee who enjoys music is a DVD.
Arranging for such customized gifts however has its share of challenges. For one, it requires looking into each employee's file to ascertain individual interests, and shopping at different places to find different gifts. This may not always be a viable option in large companies, but when it does happen is sure to impress the employee.
Another danger in this approach is that employees may perceive inequity in gift distribution, even when the value of the gift remains the same. Or you may get the employee's interest wrong and give a gift that he or she hates!
Memorabilia and General Purpose Utility Items
An alternative to gifts customized to suit the taste of each employee but still retaining a personalized flavor is some utility memorabilia such as a paper weight, pen stand, mug, photo frames, table lamp, leather portfolio, pen sets, executive desk top, or anything else, with a Christmas theme and the name or photo of the recipient. Sourcing such gifts is easy and most corporate gift vendors do the printing of the name or photo as part of their package. Such a standardized gift also dismisses issues of inequity or perceptions that some people receive better gifts.
An alternative to personalized memorabilia is general-purpose utility items such as floor mats, mouse pads, indoor plants, organic products in a gift basket, and household utensils. Most people find such gifts useful, and even if they don't, they can always re-gift these items to someone else.
When selecting memorabilia or general purpose utility items as gifts, avoid items such as perfume and religious or superstitious items. The acceptance of such gifts depend on individual tastes, and what one person considers as a fantastic gift, another person might consider as inappropriate or useless.
Gift baskets serve as a suitable gift for any occasion, and for Christmas, appropriate inclusions inside the gift basket are foods such as chocolates or other sweets, baked items, gourmet goodies or a bottle of wine. Make sure to order for sugar-free versions whenever relevant for people suffering from diabetes.
Another corporate gift giving idea is throwing a lunch or dinner party for all employees and their family. This provides a good opportunity for employees to bond and share the spirit of the season.
Monetary gifts are a safe option, as it pleases everyone and suits all tastes. The Human Resources team or whoever arranges for the gifts is also saved from the hassles of sourcing and packing the gift.
Providing cold hard cash as a gift may seem a little tactless. The best options include gift cards or gift vouchers, or donating money in the recipient's name to the charity the employee prefers. However, avoid gift cards of specialty stores where all employees may not shop, and rather opt for general cards such as Visa gift cards that find universal acceptance.
Paying time and attention to a seemingly small matter such as this goes a long way in driving home the message that the organization cares. This helps in earning the commitment and loyalty of the employee, and provides intangible returns that are much higher than the cost of the gift.
Source: Author's experience
Image Credit: flickr.com/Vicky Brock