Nov 29, 2021

7 Holiday Gifting Fails - Plus 1 Idea Employees Love

’Tis the season to choose how to thank employees for a year of hard work under extraordinary circumstances. If this responsibility falls to you, read these seven tales of holiday rewards gone wrong. From cringe-worthy to laughable, these gift ideas for employees are all examples of how not to show your appreciation. But don’t worry-we’ll wrap up with one great idea that will make you your company’s holiday star.


1. It’s all about him this year

“My husband (full-time) and I (part-time) both worked for a guy who gave a Christmas lunch for the company at a cafeteria. There he signed two-dollar bills that he gave to everyone attending. In addition, full-time employees got a bronze coin minted with his profile on it. I made my husband pull into a 7-11 on the way home and spent the two dollars. He carried his around for ages for the laughs.”


2. This one turned out not to be appealing

“One year my sister worked at a major theme park and was required to work on Christmas Day. In acknowledgement of this, her boss gave all of the hourly employees a present: A gift certificate for one of the in-park vendor stands for a medium soda OR a banana. (Yes, those were the two choices.) When she cashed hers in for a banana, she was told that the gift certificate did not cover sales tax and had to pay that out of pocket.”


3. I do not like green eggs or ham

"I was 16, but all the other employees were adults. For Christmas, we were each given a ham. I politely said thank you, even though the ham looked moldy. When I went home, I burst into tears as I showed my parents what I had received. They confirmed that it was rotten and not edible."


4. Down to the penny

“The first year at my current company they called everyone down by team and gave them grocery store gift cards for $7.58. And they made you sign for them.”


5. I’ll be watching you

At a company gift exchange, an employee received some rolls of toilet paper from her manager. Added bonus gift: a photo of the supervisor.


6. Baby on board

One year I was hugely pregnant in December with just days to go and my boss gave me a keychain in the shape of a pregnant woman. It was clear, and inside her belly a little baby bobbed around in liquid. I think it was meant to be funny, but mostly it was disturbing.


7. Picture this turkey

A federal contractor on a military base received a turkey for 15 years, a tradition that survived three different contractors. “Then the cheapest company on earth…got the contract. For Christmas that first year, they ACTUALLY, honest-to-God gave the employees a photocopy of a turkey silhouette. It wasn't even a copy of a real turkey. It looked like the turkeys your kids make out of their handprints in kindergarten, except it wasn't even in color. Just a black and white silhouette of a turkey. Several of them were taped to headquarters' front door in the days following.”


8. The best holiday gifts for employees

Given all of the possible gifting missteps, what’s a corporate holiday shopper to do? The answer is easy: give reward cards that are thoughtfully chosen and reasonably funded. Why? These cards continue to be the most requested gift (for the fourteenth year in a row!). In fact, our research reveals that almost everyone surveyed-over 90% of men, women, Gen Xers, Boomers, etc.-prefer to receive a Mastercard® or Visa® Reward Card or a merchant gift card as a reward.

Go ahead and give your employees reward cards-just make sure you do it right. Talk to a reward card expert here at Blackhawk Network On Demand, where it’s fast and easy to order cards with both your company’s logo and your employees’ names.


Do you want to buy gift cards in bulk for your employees?

  5. NRF Holiday Forecast 2019.
  6. A Blackhawk Network survey of 1,022 smartphone-owning Americans was completed online between February 10 and 28, 2017 by Leger. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/– 3.07%, 19 times out of 20.