An Essential Guide to Gifts for Team Building

An Essential Guide to Gifts for Team Building

Team building doesn't just mean virtual happy hours or company off-sites. One of the best ways to foster a culture of bonding is through gift-giving. In this essential guide, you'll learn how to create a gifting strategy to strengthen your organization.


Employee engagement should be the utmost priority for any company. Having actively motivated and productive employees that are committed to their company’s goals and motivated to deliver great work adds to employee morale and produces results for the organization.

Keeping top performers, building a high-performing team, and connecting your people to your organization’s core vision, values, and culture is an ongoing mission for all successful organizations. Initiatives of employee appreciation, recognition, encouragement, and support are enacted to enrich the work experience for employees and help them see the significance of their contributions.

Whether your organization is big or small, employees never want to feel like they are just collecting a paycheck. When workers are surveyed regarding what they want from an employer, aside from a pay increase, the need to feel noticed is one of the top answers.

The size of the reward is irrelevant—it truly is the thought that matters. If an employee is given a gift, it propels them to produce high-quality work and project positivity amongst their peers. Corporate gifts for holidays, birthdays, employee appreciation, or simply for recognizing hard work go a long way in boosting morale and strengthening team bonds.

Big or small, gifts can have a major impact.

Rewards make employees feel more connected

While it is not necessary to give a big or pricey gift to employees every time an accomplishment is made, just the right gift at the right time can make a team member feel more connected to the company. A thoughtful gift goes a long way—an employee can always tell if the gift is a mere obligation or a meaningful gesture.

Even organizations with limited budgets can be creative and gift meaningful items to employees. If a person feels that a gift is thoughtful, they will likely feel a stronger connection to the business (especially new employees), and that positive feeling will affect the work environment as a whole.

Gifts enhance your appeal

The moment an employee feels like they are replaceable, they will start seeking out other opportunities. The key to keeping your team happy is to make them feel valued. If you want your organization to focus on employee happiness and a positive employee experience, thoughtful gift-giving is a simple way to positively increase their morale.

Rewards increase employee retention

It may seem easier for business owners to please the directors and managers of their organization, but there is real value in satisfying the needs of junior teams as well. They are the real backbone of an organization and it is often their work that is integral to a company’s success (or failure).

When they feel recognized and valued by their company, it is reflected in the level of their productivity. Whether it is a holiday gift, a gift card, or even a thoughtful stress reliever, an employee should feel that there is an earnest meaning behind a gift.

When should you give?

Employee gifting is an incredible way to show your appreciation all year round. Don’t just wait for major holidays to find the right gift! Celebrate team members on holidays like Thanksgiving, always honor work anniversaries, and keep birthdays in mind to focus on building a culture of employee recognition.

There are a ton of awesome corporate gift ideas for employees that keep on giving.  

Employee Appreciation Day

The pandemic has heightened feelings of invisibility for remote workers. Without the community of an in-person office, there’s a greater need for employers to show their appreciation to team members.

Holidays like employee appreciation day are the perfect occasion to spread joy within your organization.

If you’re looking for a team gift, consider donating to a great cause on behalf of your team. Organizations like Kiva allow you to make loans to entrepreneurs and small businesses from across the globe. And the best part is that, with a 96.8% repayment rate, the person or company that you donate on behalf of can take those funds and reinvest them over and over again.

National Intern Day

Celebrate your interns and bring your team together around this less-popular (but just as important!) national holiday.

National Intern Day is the perfect opportunity to give your soon-to-be full-time team members a better feel for company culture! Celebrating this holiday is a great way to let your interns know that working for your organization means a commitment to their development, both personally and professionally.

Black History Month

Volunteering with local nonprofits and charities is an excellent way to facilitate community bonding for your team members, and even inspire engagement and motivation in the workplace!

Lending your support as an organization is uniquely powerful because you can bring a lot of helping hands to a project, but you can also form corporate partnerships and create lasting relationships by establishing internships, apprenticeships, or recruiting programs.

Organizations like Black Girls CODE, National Society of Black Engineers, and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance are good places to start if you’re looking for national Black-led organizations!

National Healthcare Week

Whether your organization’s focus is healthcare, or you have team members with family and friends working in healthcare, National Healthcare Week is an excellent opportunity to say “I see you.”

Consider offering a surprise paid day off or grocery delivery via a service like Shipt.

Boost team morale year-round

Research shows that recognition from management matters, but peer-to-peer recognition can be even more impactful.

Pick a time of year to empower your team members with a small budget that they can spend on gifts for the people they work with, for any reason they like. Encourage your team to send thank you gifts (they don't have to be too elaborate, even customized t-shirts and keychains work) to team members for contributions to projects and making progress with their work or personal goals.

The wrong gift can send the wrong message.

Company swag should be a thoughtful gift

Generic swag, such as keychains, water bottles, or hats with the company’s logo, can leave employees feeling disappointed if there is no rhyme or reason behind the gift. Employees know that company swag is meant to increase brand visibility and can be seen as benefitting the organization instead of them personally if it is not customized to their preferences. If an employee feels like an afterthought, the brand visibility aspect won’t matter once the swag item becomes a paperweight. Be sure to spend ample time researching meaningful company swag gift ideas for a win-win.

A turn to impact

The culture around business gifts is changing. People don’t want things to clutter their already cluttered homes and office spaces. On top of that, appreciation and demand for positive corporate impact are growing.

And this sentiment isn’t completely new. We’ve all received plenty of gifts through our working (and personal) lives that really miss the mark. These are the gifts that remain on our desks gathering dust or mold until being tossed out or re-gifted.

No matter the occasion, celebrations don’t have to (and shouldn’t) occur in a values vacuum. When social impact is truly integral to your business and ethos, that can make for unique corporate gifts that engage the recipient in your impact efforts.

Drawing on that understanding of the evolving culture around gifts and better business practices, our recommendations fully embrace strengthening the relationship between the giver and receiver and their mutual commitment to building a strong team.

Genuine connection is key to developing your employees’ loyalty and engagement.

Gifting Categories


Virtual experiences like cooking classes are excellent given the rise of remote-work culture.

If you want to get creative, a virtual picnic is a perfect gift idea for remote employees, or just for team members who can’t be physically together. You can send each team member a basket full of picnic classics such as sandwiches, fruit, and beverages - and of course a red gingham tablecloth!

A mini-company retreat is another useful way to gather your team and share ideas while making progress toward organizational goals. This time can also be used as a rewarding employee appreciation gift AND team building event— just make sure the focus is on wellness and personal growth.

Make time at your annual corporate retreat for moments of gratitude, or host a dedicated mini retreat around these themes. Ask your team members which activities they’d most like to try, then plan a schedule that features sessions based on their interests and passions.

Health + wellness

If you’re looking for team gift ideas  or employee appreciation gifts that will improve team members’ productivity and boost employee morale, wellness should be at the top of your list!

Gift team members a wellness gift box or exercise accessories like yoga mats or fitness bands that they can use at the office during lunch break or in their free time.

Another thoughtful gift for the health-forward team members is online exercise classes! Classes are a great way to stay active and improve productivity with your team.

If you want to go the extra mile and offer a truly unique gift, you can even offer a monthly subscription to an online exercise platform like Peloton, ClassPass, or Daily Burn.

Paw-some pets

Give a personal thank you to the pet parents on your team with gifts that keep their furry friends in mind! Treats and toys will help bring joy to your colleague or customer’s fur friend, and also save them the hassle and expense of picking them up at the pet store.

Online stores like Etsy are chock-full of incredible and unique ideas for fur families on your team. Show gratitude to pet-loving employees with gifts like custom-engraved treat jars and branded dog bowls.

For the foodies

There are endless options for great team gift ideas with a food focus! Share wine and cheese together with your team in the office or virtually from the comfort of home! You can easily organize a cultural tasting experience with the help of private and hosted tasting providers.

Pastry gift baskets and gourmet gift sets are great “thank you” gifts to celebrate your team with celebratory treats!

Accessories, tech + decor

There are big benefits to adding a touch of green to a workspace – especially in the wintertime. That’s why things like terrariums, succulents, and desk plants are a fun, visually appealing, and cost-efficient corporate gift idea.

For the techies on your team, popular gifts with a practical touch like Popsockets, charging station racks, and wireless charging stations are a tech-forward act of gratitude that go beyond the typical gift card or gift basket.

If you want to get even more relatable, a Work-From-Home survival gift is an excellent gift option for your remote workers. Zoom fatigue, a potential lack of privacy or personal space, and an absence of coworkers to commiserate with can make working from home tough. Consider putting together an “anti-burnout kit” with items like earplugs, webcam covers, and ergonomic chair pillows.  Equal parts eccentric and practical, this gift is an ideal fit for virtual employees.

Holiday-themed virtual activities

Employees often just want to relax and socialize with one another, and with virtual team-building activities, you can help them do so in a fun, productive, and cost-effective way.

The holiday season is all about coming together and celebrating and holiday trivia is sure to inspire fun-filled camaraderie. If you want to get creative, consider competing in a festive, high-energy team-building activity like a scavenger hunt.

If studying history is more your team's speed, dive into activities like this virtual tour of the National Museum of African-AmericanHistory and Culture.

Or, let them choose their own gifts!

Show your employees how much you value them with a gift that lets them choose their own appreciation care package. With so many options to choose from, they’re sure to find something they’ll love. Plus, this thoughtful gift shows that you care about your staff members’  individual preferences.

With this option, employees can pick out something they really want, whether it’s a yummy snack or a fun gadget. Plus, it’s a great way to boost morale and keep your team happy and motivated. Perfect to pair with an employee appreciation ecard that your entire team signs!

The spirit of gifts

There’s nothing quite like the sense of child-like joy you feel when you receive an unexpected gift. The element of surprise when it arrives, the excitement while tearing it open, the delight of discovering the contents inside, and last but not least, the realization that someone went out of their way to give you a thoughtful gift.

That is exactly why the best gifts are so powerful — they create an emotional connection with recipients.

Although often overlooked, corporate gifts are a great opportunity for companies to connect with their employees. Unlike most interactions that now take place through a screen, giving a gift offers a tangible way to build a meaningful connection and make a lasting impression.

This is especially true when the gift embodies team building and reflects the company’s core values. Whether you're highlighting what matters most to you or just trying to inspire a little team bonding, a meaningful gift can leave a lasting impression.

Let’s get gifting

Just like a catchy chant unifies the crowd at a school sports game, team spirit in the workplace brings together employees and managers through camaraderie, cooperation, and collaboration.

Whether it’s in the office or on the court, team spirit is all about support. And that support has several benefits, with highly engaged teams outperforming those with low employee engagement by a whopping 202%.

So don't just TELL your people what matters to your company — show them!

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