5 great alternatives to generic corporate gifts

5 great alternatives to generic corporate gifts

Yellow Octopus

This article was made possible thanks to Yellow Octopus, a hub for unique and personalised gifts.

Learn more at

Your employees have been working diligently for you throughout the year and you want nothing more than to reward them for that effort.

Christmas time, with all its warmth and gift-giving excitement, provides the perfect opportunity for you to show your appreciation for a job well done.

However, let’s face it – corporate gifts, especially those from managers or bosses, have historically been infamous as some of the worst of the lot.

As much as you may have worked to make it happen, most employees don’t really want another company branded mug cluttering up their kitchen cabinets. And most employers actually agree with the fact that in an ideal world, all employees would receive professional hampers and gift boxes filled with high-value items, and perhaps even some sentiments that were totally personal to them.

The fact of the matter is that a strong workplace culture is quintessential to employee retention. And when employees receive a poorly considered gift, even if the feeling is mild, it does go some way in making them feel a little less valued in the workplace.

So, what steps can you take to ensure that your gifts won’t be received with a half-hearted ‘thank you’ and a swift journey into the waste bin? Continue reading to find out.

1. Make a donation in their name

A great way to show your employees that you’re attentive of them and their values is a donation in their name to a reputable Australian charity, particularly to one that resonates with that employee, if possible.

A donation is a great gift option for those who are otherwise difficult to buy for, while also going the extra mile of displaying that you’ve paid attention to them and to what they hold dear.

Present a card to the recipient, noting the name of the charity and the amount given if you’d like – you can even elevate the presentation just a little bit by affixing a small ornament, such as a dog-shaped Christmas bauble if the donation was to a dog shelter, for example.

2. Give a cash bonus or gift card

The most straightforward way of rewarding your employees at the end of the year is a cash bonus. There is nothing more versatile than money, plain and simple.

At the same time, ensure that you are careful with this option as cash bonuses are counted as regular income for tax purposes, which means it may not end up being the most efficient of options.

Another option could be to reward your workers with gift cards. Gift cards under the value of $300 are exempt from tax and could be an even cheaper option than a cash bonus if you had agreements in place with the companies providing the gift cards.

3. Provide a team-building experience

Team-building exercises are doubly positive in that they can provide your employees with guaranteed fun while simultaneously strengthening the bonds among your crew.

And keep in mind that your team-building activities certainly do not need to be contrived set-ups that are clearly designed in such a way to foster leadership, communication or problem solving.

There are many activities that will foster all of these in a far more organic, engaging, and downright enjoyable way.

For example, outings like karaoke are great social lubricants, as it allows your team to let down their guard and begin building deeper trust. Escape rooms are also excellent and foster all of the above skills while still being a genuinely fun game to boot.

4. Host an unforgettable Christmas party

Taking the money away from gifts and funnelling it towards an annual Christmas party might be one of the best options. In fact, partying with the team might be an avenue for great team building, all on its own.

The Christmas party deserves to be great – it represents the time when everyone is allowed to blow off steam, shake off the stressors of the past year, and most importantly, it’s an avenue for everyone to do this while they are all together, celebrating as a team without any of the stresses of work hanging over their heads.

We recommend having your Christmas party somewhere away from your office, just so your staff can enjoy everyone’s company in a different setting or new context.

5. Gift something that’s truly for them

If you do insist on gifts, then carry forth the ethos of getting everyone something that conveys how much you value each of them as individuals.

The reason that many other generic corporate gifts don’t work is that they fail to account for this – bottles of wine, meat hampers and lotions are not inherently terrible gifts. The problem lies in that they are often sent out haphazardly, failing to account for the teetotallers, vegetarians, or those with sensitive skin.

These gifts can make employees feel as though their individuality is not being considered and cause them to feel more like numbers on a spreadsheet.

If Trevor’s phone always dies in the middle of the workday, then buy him a portable charger. If Christine is known for her love of podcasts, then get her a Spotify subscription.

Make corporate gifts personal and memorable

As you can see, there are a myriad of ways to repurpose the cash otherwise spent on lousy corporate Christmas gifts and redirect those funds in such a way that will have your staff feeling valued in no time for the festive season.

Just be sure to remember that these gifts will influence your employees, showing them how much you value them and their contribution to the business and your wider workplace culture.

So, do things right and compensate them for that contribution with some holiday rewards that will be sure to keep them grinning from ear to ear.

Yellow Octopus

This article was made possible thanks to Yellow Octopus, a hub for unique and personalised gifts.

Learn more at