All 30 Budget-Friendly Gift Ideas to Show Appreciation for Your Employees
All Recognition and Rewards

30 Budget-Friendly Gift Ideas to Show Appreciation for Your Employees

Author: Ravijojla Novakovic Last updated: October 4, 2020 Reading time: 19 minutes

Finding the perfect gift that fits a budget can be daunting. Whether you’re a small business owner or a manager in a large corporation, you’re likely looking for affordable ways to show your team how much you value their hard work and dedication. 

This guide will provide you with various budget-friendly gift ideas for employees, ensuring you can express your gratitude without straining your finances. From personalized items to practical office supplies, these cost-effective gifts will make your employees feel appreciated.

So, let’s dive in!

How To Choose the Right Gifts for Your Employees

tips to choose the right gifts for your employees

What are some good employee gift ideas?

This question is often on the minds of HR Professionals, especially the ones dealing with employee recognition and rewards.  

To develop some good gift ideas for your employees, you need to know them and what they like. For this reason, you can conduct an employee survey and ask your employees what type of gifts would make them the happiest but also follow some of our general guidelines below.

Consider personal preferences and interests

When selecting a thoughtful yet professional gift for your employees, a helpful factor in making the right selection is considering their hobbies, interests, likes, and dislikes. Although people in professional settings may not know each other personally, things like hobbies and favorite activities are often discussed between employees on breaks or even during interviews.

For example, if you have a content writer on your team who loves to read and write, a book from their favorite author, an aesthetic notebook, or a quality pen would be a thoughtful gift that aligns with their interest and also doesn’t pass the professional boundary.

Keep in mind your employees’ achievements

Employees’ achievements can also help you select corporate gifts for your employees. A small gift that celebrates employees’ milestones can help you boost employee morale and help you show them appreciation and support for the job they are doing.

Unique gifts like employee of the month announcements, hall of fame, plaques, a round of applause in front of the entire team, or personalized gifts that include their name and achievements are all under the inexpensive gifts category that can make your employees feel valued.

Consider your company’s culture

Gifts for employees should also be in alignment with the company culture. If, for example, your company advocates for strong mental health, good and healthy relationships between employees, and strives for a culture where employees feel valued and included, the gifts you are giving to your employees should demonstrate that as well.

That being said, vouchers for mental wellness and support can be a sweet gesture that shows that your company cares about the wellbeing of its employees.

Be mindful of the cultural background of your employees

Bigger organizations usually have diverse teams composed of people with different cultural backgrounds.

HR professionals must keep in mind their colleagues’ cultural and religious backgrounds and give neutral gifts that won’t offend anyone.

Stay professional

When choosing a gift for your colleagues, it is important to remain professional and not cross any line that may make the gift inappropriate, too personal, or offensive.

Presenting something that will be of interest while not being too personal can be a challenge for many managers. That’s why gifts, such as office essentials, gift vouchers, notebooks, or books, are an excellent choice when giving something to a colleague.

Opt for practical items

Practical items can be a perfect gift for a colleague. Practical gifts are useful items that don’t hold any special meaning, allowing you to be professional and polite at the same time.

These gifts are great for professional settings, as they demonstrate care, attention, and appreciation and are neutral enough not to hurt anyone’s feelings.

Some ideas for practical gifts are a thermos, coffee mug, mouse pad, mouse, wireless headphones, notebook, pen organizer, lunch box, and so on.

Be mindful of the budget

If you operate on a tight budget, inexpensive employee gifts should be your first choice. There are plenty of high-quality items you can give your employees that are at the same time budget-friendly and carefully chosen.

But before introducing a gift-giving program, plan when you will present gifts to your employees. The holiday season, birthdays, and anniversaries are typically occasions when employees can anticipate receiving gifts. Therefore, carefully decide when to give someone a gift and set a budget accordingly.

Non-Monetary Employee Gift Ideas  

It is true: employee gifts do not need to be expensive!

One of the main lessons we learned about employee recognition and rewards programs is that non-monetary recognition can also transform your company culture and employee experience. 

For example, employees prefer verbal “Thank you” for their day-to-day accomplishments and growth opportunities for significant accomplishments.  

Here are some other free employee gift ideas. 

1. Employee of the month award 

Employee of the Month award is one of the most popular ways to recognize your employees.

One of the most important aspects of this award is its publicity. Since it is visible to everybody, it stimulates a sense of pride for the awarded employee and inspires others to aim for the award. 

However, you should disperse this award only after establishing rules and conditions for getting the award. When it is assigned randomly, the employee of the month award loses its purpose.

2. Employee appreciation cards 

Appreciation cards can be a great employee gift. If they are personal and sincere, the chances are they will really make someone’s day!

Moreover, if printed and given in a nice envelope, they are a standalone gift that employees cherish. 

Get our employee appreciation quotes! 

3. Shout out on social media 

Commending your employees’ hard work, dedication, and success on social media is a great way to showcase your appreciation.

As a matter of fact, it is also an awesome employer branding activity. Try to include it in your practice since it is an effortless way to show your employee appreciation and has multiple benefits. 

4. A good parking spot 

Giving someone a parking spot near the company entrance has long been an established practice associated with employee promotion.

It still represents a good employee gift idea, but make sure you do not give it to someone who has no use for it!

Moreover, a good parking spot can be awarded on a monthly basis if you want to have it as an award for Employee of the Month. 

5. A day off 

Did you know that employees with 5 years of working experience get only 15 days of vacation on average in the US?

This presents a good opportunity to give your employees some extra days off as a gift for a job well done.

In fact, getting more vacation time is one of the most popular employee benefits, with 80% of employees considering more vacation time important when signing up for a job. 

6. Appreciation email

An appreciation email is one of the easiest ways to make employees feel recognized and valued for their hard work. Although it’s not considered a physical gift, expressing gratitude and validating someone’s work and effort can go a long way in nurturing the connections you share with your employees.

Appreciation emails can be sent in multiple instances, such as when employees have completed their jobs on time or have shared truly valuable ideas with the team.

Gift Ideas for Employees on a Budget

Searching for the perfect gift for your employees while staying within a budget can be a challenging task.

However, there are numerous affordable gift ideas that can make your employees feel appreciated and valued. 

Personalized items such as mugs with a company logo or notebooks with their names can add a special touch. Gift cards for local restaurants or online retailers offer flexibility and choice.

Office supplies, like ergonomic mouse pads or stylish pen sets, can be both practical and thoughtful. 

Books related to their field of work or interests can also be a great option. Remember, it’s not about the price tag but the thought and effort you put into selecting the gift.

By considering these budget-friendly gift ideas for employees, you can foster a positive work environment and show your appreciation without breaking the bank.

1. Book 

Do your employees like to read?

This employee gift idea is perfect for bookworms who love cozying up with their favorite book.

During the challenging times of COVID-19, it is important to help your employees maintain their mental health, so you can try giving them a book that helps them overcome their anxiety and stress. If you do not think that is a good idea, try with literary classics. 

2. Prepaid card 

Prepaid cards are very popular employee gifts, with 88% of Millennials choosing them as their favorite type of monetary reward. 

It is not surprising that prepaid cards are such a popular employee gift option since they allow employees to buy something they want. In a way, it is a bulletproof option that gives employees the power to make great choices. 

3. Photo frame 

A key to a good employee gift is to make it thoughtful. This will make employees feel valued and part of the team.

One such idea is to frame a photo – it can be from team building, or it can be a funny picture that reflects an internal joke. Sign it and present it to your employees on special occasions. 

4. Streaming service provider subscription 

Since, during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees mostly work from home, why not give them subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, or other streaming services?

This is a good employee gift idea since these services have been widely popular, and even more so during a pandemic. 

5. Dinner or delivery coupon 

If you were in the office, you would probably treat your employees to team lunch or have Pizza Fridays.

Giving your employees a dinner or food delivery coupon is a nice way to showcase your employee recognition, especially if you know which restaurant they like the best. 

These gifts are especially handy because employees can use them with friends and family and when socializing. This also gives an opportunity for your employees to talk about the work benefits they receive and present your company in a good light.

6. A spa day 

Did you know that 67% of employees report higher stress levels during COVID-19? 

This is exactly why it is important to keep up with your employee wellbeing practices. Spa day or massage coupons are, therefore, good employee gift ideas. Moreover, they can help your employees relax, destress, and increase their productivity. 

7. Gift boxes and bulk gifts

If you really want to lift your employees’ morale during these unprecedented times, you need to make your employee gifts useful and practical.

If you send a gift box filled with company merchandise, snacks, or something else, attach a nice card showing your appreciation.

This old-fashioned employee gift idea shows that you went out of the way to appreciate your employees’ hard work. 

Moreover, corporate bulk gifts are an amazing way to celebrate holidays like Christmas or Women’s Day. Filled with different items, companies can’t go wrong with this type of gift when they want to find a great gift for other employees.

8. Power bank or portable charger

Power banks or portable chargers are becoming a necessity, especially for people who are frequently traveling or on the go. We don’t need to elaborate on the importance of phones in our daily lives. Hence, a gift like this is an amazing idea for almost everyone.

9. Digital gift card

Nowadays, most businesses provide affordable digital gifts, giving managers a wide range of options.

These gifts are great because employers don’t have to put too much thought into what to buy for their employees, as employees can select a gift for themselves.

10. Cell phone stand

A cell phone stand is a practical gift that can improve the lives of your employees.

If you have workers who frequently check their phones, a cell phone stand can provide them with better flexibility and comfort.

This is also a useful gift for social media managers who often need to switch between their phones and computers while managing their social media accounts.

11. Company holiday party

The period before the holidays is often eagerly awaited by all employees who look forward to some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

Organizing a company holiday party can be a cost-effective way to reward staff members and help them unwind while socializing with colleagues.

These types of gatherings are a great opportunity for team building and getting to know each other better.

12. Happy hour

Happy hour is a marketing strategy that many restaurants use to attract more customers. During this time, discounted prices are offered on food and drinks for a specific period of the day. This can also be a great opportunity for your employees to bond in a fun and affordable way.

Taking your employees out of the office and into a more relaxed setting, such as a bar or restaurant, can help them relax, reduce stress, and improve collaboration and engagement.

13. Steam voucher

A Steam voucher can be a great gift for all the gamer enthusiasts you have on your team. This is a great way to show your employees that you are familiar with their hobbies and are happy to support the activities that make them happy.

14. Picnic basket

An interesting and practical gift idea is a picnic basket that your employees can use while they enjoy nature with their loved ones. In addition, you can make the basket even more special by adding some healthy snacks like apples, oranges, and other fruits or veggies.

15. Board games

If you have a team member who enjoys socializing with friends over board games, consider gifting them one would be a good idea. Board games are an excellent gift to be enjoyed with friends, both personally and professionally.

16. Sweets and candy

Sweets and candy can be nice gifts for employees with a sweet tooth. A basket filled with their favorite chocolates can be a fun and attentive gift for employees’ anniversaries, birthdays, or some other special occasion.

17. A plant

Plants are always a great gift for anyone. It’s proven that plants can positively influence our mental health and improve our overall mood. Some research has shown that plans also improve creativity and increase productivity.

Before purchasing a plant, ensure it requires little attention and is easy to maintain.

18. Journal

Journal is also a good idea for employees who like to put their thoughts on paper or simply want to stay organized by writing down their daily tasks.

The good thing about journals is that they can be personalized and come in many designs which makes this gift suitable for almost everyone.

19. Keyboard

Do you have technology fanatics on your team? If yes, then a keyboard might be a good gift.

Keyboards in different colors are popular gifts nowadays, making them a great option for anyone. Additionally, gifting someone a keyboard is both professional and practical, making this present perfect for employee birthdays and work anniversaries.

20. Neck pillow

Traveling is much more comfortable when we have a neck pillow with us. Therefore, for the wanderlusts on your team, neck pillows can be a great gift.

They can also come in handy when you send your employees for business trips, making their travel more comfortable and enjoyable.

21. E-learning class

Ask your employees if they are interested in acquiring new skills, such as learning a new language or drawing.

If they express interest in a particular field, you can gift them an e-learning class where they can try to learn a new skill.

22. Backpack

Backpacks are a thoughtful and practical gift as they are always in demand. They come in handy while traveling or carrying laptops and other essentials.

Backpacks are a perfect gift for employees who enjoy hiking or biking or are always on the move.

23. Portable speakers

Who doesn’t enjoy listening to music while working, cooking dinner, or engaging in any other activity? That’s why portable speakers make excellent gifts for your employees.

If you allow music in the office, the portable speaker can help create a more relaxed atmosphere and allow employees to focus better.

24. Essential oils

Essential oils can make for a great gift as they can help people relax, be used for aroma therapy, or even aid in pain relief.

They are a refined, practical, and thoughtful gift that can bring happiness to everyone.

When You Should Give Out Gifts to Your Employees? 

When should you be giving out gifts to your employees?

The answer is simple – whenever you can. More specifically, this depends on your employee recognition budget.

When organizations invest 1% or more of payroll in the program, HR professionals estimate it as the most successful. However, there are some well-established occasions on which employees are given gifts.  

Employee anniversaries 

Employees are often given gifts on the occasion of their work anniversaries. They represent employees’ loyalty to the company and are the most common work-related milestone celebrated in companies. 

Completing a project 

When your employees complete a complex project, it would be nice to reward them with a gift.

However, you need to establish your employee recognition strategy first and see what will be the exact criteria for calling a project successful – this is something that will depend on the type of work your employees carry out. 

Achievement and performance 

Not only completing projects calls for giving out employee gifts – other achievements and performance indicators present a good opportunity to reward your employees. What matters the most is to have an employee recognition strategy set out so your employees see their gifts as a reward for work well done. 

Check out these 5 reasons why employee recognition is crucial for company’s success

Personal achievements and events 

Personal events such as birthdays, birth of a child or graduation should be recognized at work. After all, these events are a big part of your employees’ lives. Giving out gifts on such occasions will form a stronger tie between your organization and its employees. 

Career advancement 

You should accompany your employees’ career advancement with an appropriate gift, but the growth opportunity could be perceived as the gift itself. 68% of employees believe that training and development are the company’s most important policies. Moreover, investing in employee development encourages employee retention and innovation. 

During the holidays

Holiday gifts bring a special excitement and are always greatly appreciated. As gift-giving, presents, and joy are synonymous with the holiday season, it’s important for your company to also consider giving its employees something that brings excitement and demonstrates care.

Many companies choose to give bulk gifts as their holiday gift, which often include coffee mugs, sweets, candy, and sometimes even wine.

Employee birthdays

Birthdays have always been associated with gift-giving, a way of celebrating the birth of people we cherish and appreciate.

As a result, it’s important for your company not to forget the birthdays of the employees who work diligently on their tasks and projects Monday through Friday.

To avoid missing anyone’s special day, ensure that you have a calendar that includes the birthdays of all employees.

Special personal events

Your employees may experience various special occasions throughout their tenure with the company, including marriage, childbirth, engagements, and more. These moments are significant and warrant recognition and celebration.

Why You Should Reward Your Employees’ Work?

It is no secret that employee recognition is one of the best ways to induce higher employee motivation and productivity.

If you want to see the best results from your gift-giving practices, you should align your recognition practices with your company’s vision, mission, and goals.

To be more specific, you need to encourage the behavior you want to see by appreciating it with gifts.
Here are some of the most important benefits you could see if you apply our employee gift ideas. 

Higher employee engagement 

Employee engagement is crucial in every workplace. It is the best indicator of employee productivity, retention, and company culture. 

It is important to engage employees even if they work remotely. 74% of employees say that they find it important to receive rewards from their employer during remote work. 

Lower employee turnover 

If your employees feel appreciated for the work they do, they will be more inclined to keep working at your company. Most HR professionals’ KPIs include reducing the turnover rate and introducing the employee recognition program with well-implemented employee gift ideas, which are among the most effective ways to improve retention rates. 

Employee productivity 

It is no secret that when employees are recognized and engaged, they are more productive. This makes perfect sense since employees are more motivated to work when their efforts are recognized, according to 78% of US workers. 

Company culture 

Appreciation of employees’ work is something that consequently leads to an improved company culture that rests on recognition. According to 2016 SHRM study, peer-to-peer recognition makes 90% of employees more satisfied with their work. Therefore, allow employees themselves to present some employee gift ideas they would like to give to their coworkers! 

Business results 

As you probably know, a well-designed and carefully implemented employee recognition program impacts your business in several ways.

When employee engagement, productivity, and retention are high, employees innovate more and pay more attention to resolving customers’ issues.

Consequently, business results are improved, and profitability is at its peak. 

Since it all starts with employee recognition and we’ve shown you how employees like to have a choice in the gifts they receive, check out our employee recognition platform JobPts.

Its rich catalogs with thousands of employee gift options, all without markups, allow your employees to get the best recognition experience on the market.  


In conclusion, showing appreciation for your employees doesn’t have to be expensive. With a little creativity and thoughtfulness, you can find budget-friendly gifts that your employees will love and appreciate. 

From personalized items to practical office supplies, these gift ideas offer a cost-effective way to express your gratitude. Remember, it’s the thought and effort that counts the most. So, no matter your budget, you can find ways to make your employees feel valued and appreciated.

Reward With Meaningful Gifts. Every Employee. On any Location.

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