10 Inclusive Team Building Gifts for the Holidays

10 Inclusive Team Building Gifts for the Holidays

If you want to be a successful company that attracts the best talent and retains it, you need to be inclusive - and this extends to gift giving.

10 Inclusive Team Building Gifts for the Holidays

Oftentimes, diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is discussed in-depth during the recruiting process and in other human resource-driven moments, but the conversation stops at the HR office door.  At Cooleaf, we want to expand the DE&I conversation into your gifting, company culture, and employee engagement, and employee recognition efforts.

A recent study by the Harvard Business Review found that more diverse companies do better in innovation efforts and financial performance when they enter new markets.

Additionally, social justice is something that younger generations truly care about. For them, work isn’t just about making money. It’s also about feeling like they belong and contributing to something important.

Research has shown that employees who feel wanted and appreciated often have better health, less stress, and fewer sick days. A study by Glassdoor found that appreciated employees are more productive, with a massive 81% of surveyed employees agreeing that they felt motivated to work harder when their boss showed signs of appreciation.

Ready to get creative with your approach to the holidays? Check out 12 of our favorite ideas for virtual teams!

New call-to-action

All this means that if you want to be a successful company that attracts the best talent and retains it, you need to be inclusive - and this extends to employee gift giving.

In the United States, when we think of holiday gifting, we usually think of Christmas presents, but the truth is, that association isn’t representative of the vast diversity of cultures, religions and ultimately, stories of origin that this country possesses.

Why Embrace Culturally Inclusive Gifting?

Celebrates a diverse workforce

By 2025, Millennials are predicted to make up 75% of the workforce, and 44.2% of them classify themselves as non-Caucasian.

Nurtures an inclusive workplace

Organizations with inclusive cultures are two times as likely to meet or exceed financial targets, and six times more likely to be innovative and agile.

Boosts employee engagement

Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

Increases employee satisfaction

A Harvard Business Review study shows a strong link between employee well-being and customer satisfaction. Invest in your teams first - the more they feel valued for their hard work the likelier motivation will increase and have a positive impact on employee appreciation and extend to your customers and clients as well.

Motivates team members

Businesses that work efficiently tend to have teams made up of self-motivated employees. However, self-motivated people may be more likely to feel stressed, not because the company is necessarily pressuring them to perform, but because those who are self-motivated dedicate themselves to delivering more than what is expected of them. Holiday gifting is beneficial for the entire team as a way to appreciate their exceptional work, further fueling their motivation to continue doing their best.

Shine a light on all your incredible team has accomplished this year! Download our free guide to creative employee spotlights.

employee spotlight guide

Strengthens bonds

Smart companies will recognize that the members of their team are not just individuals, but functional as a collective unit. The stronger the bond within that unit, the stronger the bond to your organization as a whole. Team bonding is especially important for remote workers to prevent a feeling of disconnect from the heart of the organization that could lead to low retention.

Asking the important questions

Choosing to gift through the lens of DE&I enables you to answer a resounding "Yes!" to the following questions:

  1. Is my gifting budget being utilized in a manner that supports the stance my company takes on sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  2. Are the gifts I'm offering my employees sensitive and supportive of their diverse backgrounds, delivering joy, and positively impacting their experience of working with my company?
  3. Are the gifts I'm offering my team making it clear that I care about them, about the impact I have on the planet, and about the difference my gift to them can make towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world?

Not sure where to start your organization's DEI strategy? Talk to our team of experts!

Try Cooleaf's engagement platform


Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration of African-American culture and heritage. This secular holiday takes place every year from December 26 to January 1 and is observed by millions of people in the United States and around the world.

Kwanzaa—which is derived from the word “first” in Swahili—takes inspiration from the start of the harvest season in Africa, when the first crops are gathered. It’s a time that’s been celebrated throughout the continent for generations. During the week, families gather to give gifts, share feasts, and light candles in honor of their ancestors and their hopes for the future.

Gift ideas

A beautiful handwoven basket

Handwoven by a group of female artisans in rural Rwanda, this decorative woven basket features a loop attached to the back for easy hanging. Each purchase allows these women to support themselves and their families with fair wages.


Personalize your own wine labels for Kwanzaa gifting

A bottle of wine is always a welcome Kwanzaa gift, but if you're looking to dress it up for the holiday, turn to these sweet, sticky-backed labels from this Etsy shop for an extra spirited feel. Simply place one on top of the bottle's existing label, and it's ready to give and gulp.


Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature that typically include exchanging Christmas gifts.

Gift ideas

Give employees a Christmas stocking and let them fill it up with 3-5 goodies from a stocking stuffer station. You can choose from a range of holiday gifts at any budget - and don’t forget cool company swag like water bottles, phone chargers, planners, and coffee mugs!

An ornament exchange is a great way to infuse team building activities into the holiday season. You can have everyone bring in an unwrapped ornament and place it on a tree, then take turns selecting them. Another way is to bring them in wrapped and to handle it like a white elephant gift exchange that has that entertaining “stealing” aspect, and this is a great ice-breaker for new employees.


Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and usually falls in November or December. Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts.

Gift ideas

Homesick's themed holiday candles add a personal touch

Long after the eight days and nights, they can fill their home with Hanukkah cheer, thanks to this candle inspired by the holiday. During its 60 - 80 burn time, it'll give off a sweet and salty aroma (think: potato latkes and applesauce).

A Star of David-shaped snack box is full of delectable treats for every sweet tooth! There's a small box designated for each night and the recipient opens it to reveal a new treat, which ranges from chocolate to almonds to pears. It's such a fun, sweet surprise and the box can be reused long after the holiday.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations of the year among East and Southeast Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities, among others. The New Year celebration is usually celebrated for multiple days—not just one day as in the Gregorian calendar’s New Year. In 2023, Lunar New Year begins on January 22.

Gift idea

Tea drinking is a revered tradition in Asia, and you'll find oolong tea served during the New Year. This blend of oolong, ginger root, and lychee comes from any purveyor of fine teas and is often in curated gift sets. A gift card to Amazon or Starbucks is also a great way to send tea across the miles!

Fruit baskets are a popular gift for the Lunar New Year.

Giving a beautiful box of oranges or a box of apples is a great way to celebrate as these sweet treats symbolize safety and fortune.


Whether you’re hosting an end-of-the-year holiday party in the office, having a Zoom happy hour to toast the new year, or enjoying holiday movie trivia, you’re guaranteed smiles with a holiday gift box. With some tasty seasonal treats, holiday socks, a comforting candle, and other goodies, this gift basket will be a great take-home gift for any holiday season event and a great way to bring remote teams together.

Give Back

Donate to a cause that resonates with your teams such as The National Center for Civil and Human Rights - a museum and cultural institution that connects the U.S. Civil Rights Movement to human rights challenges today.

And take it a step further by sponsoring a ‘volunteer’ day where teams are encouraged to give of their time to a local non-profit - on the company dime!

Choose from hundreds of personalized gifts on Cooleaf!

Having a strong team spirit and culture of DE&I both in the office and for remote work is an imperative step in building a best-in-class organization. Camaraderie and cooperation can lead to more effective collaboration across team members or departments in your business, especially with the rise of virtual teams and remote employees, and inclusive, unique gifts are one tool you can use to unite your team beyond a tote bag with a company logo. The best gifts build employee morale, promote inclusivity, and celebrate diversity. This year, whether celebrating in the office or with a virtual holiday party, choose genuinely thoughtful and inclusive gifts that make your employees feel seen.

Are you ready to make your approach to the holidays more inclusive? Chat with us about how to make it happen!

See Cooleaf in action


Insights in an instant

Get more tips on creating exceptional employee experiences with our industry newsletter. You'll receive our weekly newsletter, along with occasional event invites for upcoming webinars.

We will never share your email address with third parties.