As Christmas is approaching, are you thinking about gifts for your employees? Are you thinking about the usual—Starbucks gift cards or the same bottle of wine for everyone? My boss gave me, and everyone else in the office, a bottle of wine two years in a row, and I don’t even drink wine. Yes, I am still resenting his lack of creativity and thoughtfulness. I am not thrilled that he didn’t care enough to get to know me.

But you don’t have to be the boss who only gives the obligated Christmas gifts. You can give Christmas gifts that people are going to rave. In fact, many of the ideas below are not just good fit for Christmas time; they can be used throughout the year to increase productivity, camaraderie and morale.

1. Do some good together

VolunteerChristmas is a special time of the year. Its true meaning is to give and share joy with others. So it’s perfect to organize an event where your team can volunteer together for a common good. For example, you and your team can spend a morning at the food bank sorting food for the needy. You will be surprised how good people feel about themselves and each other afterwards.

Many of these facilities are used to catering corporate team building, so they know to show volunteer around first, explain to them their tasks and make it fun for everyone. They even can accommodate people with special need (can’t lift heavy stuff or physically-challenged, etc.)

Take them out to pizza lunch afterwards. Your team will feel the great holiday spirit and enjoy each other’s presence.

Pro tip: choose a weekday that they otherwise would be in the office. In other words, don’t pick a Saturday or Sunday morning where you are essentially robbing them of a free day. Assign several people to take pictures throughout the morning, and you team will have great memories afterwards.

2. Bring in Food

Bring in good as Christmas gifts for employeesTreat your team something special. You can:

  • Make breakfast—your team will be floored, or at lease appreciate, their boss making them breakfast. Bring a couple trays of home made French toast casseroles. If you absolutely have no talent in cooking and want to avoid food poisoning for everyone, then you can bring in bagels, donuts and coffee. Bring extra good ones though.
  • Rent an ice-cream cart or a popcorn machine. Those are fun and get them out of their cubicle to mingle. Don’t forget that the water cooler conversations are very important. Even the big bosses do business outside of the meeting rooms.
  • Take them out to lunch—have an extra long lunch at a place people wouldn’t usually go.

3. Create a Friendly Competition

Create a Friendly Competition - Christmas Gifts for EmployeesYou can create a competition where your team can exercise their creativity. For example, you can ask them to come up with a quote/saying that most exemplifies the great spirit of the team or company. You can print the winner’s saying on t-shirts for everyone. Another idea is to have your team give street names to the office hallways.

Create a committee to judge the entries so different people can take different roles.

4. Integrate Their Family

Integrate Their Family - Christmas Gifts for EmployeesFor your employees who have kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews, they can submit a drawing with a topic of “What my mom/dad/grandma/grandpa/aunt/uncle does at work.” When you post them in the office, your employees will have a sense of belonging at work. You could also establish a day of “take my family to work day.” Be sure to prepare some fun activities and a tour. You can even get the kids to help around in the office to experience what it’s like to be their mom/dad/grandma/grandpa/aunt/uncle. After all, that is really a day where your employees and their family can goof off a little and have some fun.

5. Do Something Fun Together

Plan a fun day and do some activities together. That can be going to a hockey game, bowling or amusement park. Having fun is such an important aspect of teamwork. It helps build a strong foundation so that people can still stick together when times is tough.

Again, make sure that the activity happens during work hours so you are not the boss who robs them off their personal time. Alternatively, you can invite their family to go along.

 6. Take Half a Day Off

Really, give them half a day off before the holiday. They will be thankful for starting their holiday early.

I think these are way better than a bottle of cheap wine. Don’t you think?

Comments? Any suggestions about these Christmas Gifts for Employees? Tell us your experience? Do share!