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Nov 01, 2021

Christmas employee rewards your workforce are guaranteed to like

Christmas. Yes, it’s that time again. And, with the Christmas season approaching we bet you’re already thinking about ways you can reward your employees to say thank you for their hard work throughout the year.

Research continuously tells us that there are many employees who’ve never received a reward from their employer. That means no Christmas bonus, no extra days off and no long-service awards. Bah Humbug! Did you know there’s substantial evidence that unappreciated employees eventually resign? So, to make sure your workforce sticks around we’re here to help with your Christmas employee rewards research and answer all your festive-reward questions. From top rewards your employees are guaranteed to like, to finding out if Christmas gifts are tax deductible.


A study by M&S found that almost 50% of companies that gave Christmas rewards saw an improvement in staff motivation and productivity levels when they returned to work in the New Year. Coming up with new ways to reward employees each year can however be a consuming process. Worry not. Our recognition experts have shared their top 13 ways to reward employees and guarantee a positive reaction.

1. Time off for Christmas shopping

Hands up who feels stressed at the thought of Christmas shopping? Whilst it’s meant to be an enjoyable occasion, the sheer volume of jobs that have to be achieved ahead of Christmas Day can be overwhelming for some employees. Give staff advanced notice that they can take paid leave for one or two days in December and you’ll bring joy to most – if not all – of your workforce. Even if some staff don’t want to use the time to shop, they can at least get out there and enjoy the Christmas markets and socialise over festive treats. Why not add some extra cheer and give them a £50 One4all gift card that they can put towards the expense of their present buying or treat themselves to something nice. Multi-retailer gift cards, such as One4all, are accepted in over 150 retailers all across the UK.

2. Help pay off the expense of Christmas

In the run up to Christmas research shows households spend around £750 more on top of their usual monthly outgoings. Help employees out with the expense of Christmas by either giving them their pay cheque sooner in December or offering them an employee loan.

3. Gift Card to treat themselves

Gift cards, especially multi-retailer gift cards, are popular gifts for employees as they enjoy being able to choose something they really want. The feeling of appreciation tends to last longer with this type of gesture too, as staff feel rewarded when they receive and spend the gift card and then again when they use their purchase. We call it, ‘the gift that keeps on giving!’ Our own research also shows 72% of employees prefer gifts cards, prepaid cards and digital codes compared to Christmas parties, branded merchandise, and paid time off.

4. Meal out with colleagues or family

The large Christmas party gathering might be declining in popularity, but that doesn’t mean employees don’t want to socialise in December. Help staff get into the festive spirit by funding a meal-out with family, friends or colleagues. You’ll be giving them a night to remember, and there’s no better feeling than your employer footing the bill at the end! To make the process even easier for your company you could give staff a multi-restaurant gift card, such as our Restaurant Favourites. You simply load this type of gift card with a monetary value and then employees are free to choose where they eat from a choice of popular restaurants.

5. Countdown to Christmas surprises

With most employees working from home more often, a surprise package sent to their door is sure to make them smile. Advent calendars are no longer just for children, there are an array of fun and luxurious countdown-to-Christmas-calendars for adults too. Either send employees a calendar already created, or make it even more personal by creating a bespoke calendar with surprises that reflect your company’s values and personality.

6. Christmas dinner spread, on you

Hosting a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings can be a costly affair. Research shows homeowners spend anywhere between £5 per head to over £200 per head. Say ‘thank you’ this Christmas by giving all your workforce £50 to spend in Waitrose or M&S. Imagine how they’ll feel when they sit down to their festive dinner knowing their employer has paid for it. We bet they’ll feel pretty good about the company they work for!

7. Indulgent hampers

Hampers are great gifts for a variety of personalities, mainly because everyone likes to indulge in food and drink at Christmas time. Surprise employees with a hamper delivered to their door. Just make sure you take any allergies into account before sending. If a hamper feels too difficult to manage for a large workforce, you could always send a gift card for a luxury food and drink retailer and give employees the freedom to choose their own indulgent treats.

8. Experience something new

Creating memories through experiencing something new is a sure way to engage and motivate employees. Not only will they enjoy the experience on the actual day, but they’ll chat fondly about their day afterwards with colleagues, friends and family too. The experience you give them this Christmas will of course need to depend on the demographics and interests of your workforce. Or why not opt for an experience voucher where employees can choose their own day out.

9. A day of Christmas festivities

Instead of a Christmas party, a day of Christmas festivities is a way you can still bring your workforce together. Theme your event (think Lapland, a ski resort or a German market) and plan a day of festivities around it. Games, quizzes, challenges, and a good food and drink spread, will all go down well.

10. Fund Christmas decorations

Christmas-mania increases every year. In fact, sales of Christmas lights have tripled in the past few years. Spread festive cheer in the office by funding some of your employees’ Christmas decorations. Give them a £50 One4all gift card and challenge them to see what they can buy. You could go one step further with a Christmas decs competition – the best festively-dressed area (in their home or in the office) wins an even bigger prize. The result? Some light-hearted fun to get employees in an upbeat Christmas mood.

11. Christmas theatre fun

Going to the theatre always feels even more special at Christmas, and a trip out of the office is good for team-bonding and boosting motivation levels. If you don’t think your workforce will appreciate a pantomime or chanting “it’s behind you”, then there are plenty of other options to choose from, such as Christmas Choir Concerts, popular musicals and must-see plays. Too many different personalities to satisfy? You could give staff a Theatre Tokens voucher and allow them to choose their own live entertainment.

12. Christmas Eve treat box

Give employees a buzz on Christmas Eve with their very own Christmas Eve Gift Box filled with goodies and treats. Indulgent foods, drinks and a gift card to download a film, are all guaranteed to be enjoyed.

13. A 3-month long subscription

Subscription gifts are a great way to prolong the positive feeling that comes with a reward. They’re also a great way to reward a diverse workforce as subscriptions can be tailored to suit an individual’s likes and dislikes. From coffee-tasting and indoor plants to craft beers and Spotify music subscriptions, there’s an endless array of options to choose from.


Now you have plenty of employee Christmas reward ideas buzzing around in your head, you no doubt have questions too. The good news is our recognition experts have gathered together the most frequently asked queries from clients and shared their answers. If your question isn’t listed below, get in touch with our team for further information.

Should I give my employees a Christmas gift?

It’s recommended that all employers give their employees a Christmas gift to say thank you for the work they have achieved in the past year. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive, but a gesture of appreciation will keep employees engaged and motivated to return in the New Year. Research also shows that unappreciated employees are likely to resign.

What makes a good Christmas reward?

A good Christmas reward is one that looks thoughtful and demonstrates that staff are valued. Most employees would prefer a gift or gift card, instead of a Christmas party or branded merchandise. Paid time off is also a good reward when company budgets are stretched.

What is the best reward for employee recognition?

The best reward for employee recognition is one that genuinely recognises staff for their hard work. A meal out, paid leave or a gift card to spend on themselves, is much more rewarding than cash in a pay cheque which can get lost in bills and other mundane expenditures.

How much should you spend on staff at Christmas?

The minimum recommended amount to spend on staff at Christmas is £50. It is however more important to make sure you spend the same amount on every single employee to avoid any negative feedback. £50 can go a long way if you’re imaginative with your ideas.

Can I give my employees gift cards for Christmas?

Yes, you can give employees gift cards for Christmas. In fact, many employees say they’d prefer a gift card instead of a Christmas party. Gift cards can be given as a trivial benefit, which means you can save your business money on tax and national insurance payments.

Are Christmas gifts to employees tax deductible?

Some types of Christmas gifts to employees are not tax deductible. However, there are exceptions, such as gift cards and gifts up to the value of £50, that can be recorded as a trivial benefit. A trivial benefit means you don’t have to pay tax or national insurance on gifts that come under this category.

How should I give Christmas rewards to employees?

In person is the recommended method to give rewards to employees. This approach is personal and makes the reward heartfelt. However, when this isn’t possible, digitally with a personalised note is the next best thing. When giving out a large volume of rewards at one time (such as Christmas), digital rewards work well as long as there is some form of personalisation in the communication.

Final thought…

In a nutshell, it’s a good idea to show your appreciation to your workforce with a ‘thank you’ at the end of the year. The gesture doesn’t have to be expensive, but it has to show that thought has gone into the gift and a level of personalisation is what will make employees feel valued.

If you’d like support with your Christmas rewards get in touch with our recognition team by filling out the form to your right.