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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Employee Holiday Gifts

Employee holiday gifts are presents given by employers to their employees during the holiday season, typically at the end of the year. These gifts are a way for employers to show appreciation for their employees' hard work and dedication throughout the year.

Holiday gifts can vary widely in type and value, ranging from small tokens of appreciation such as gift cards, company-branded merchandise, or personalized items, to more substantial gifts such as electronics, luxury items, or holiday bonuses. The choice of gift often depends on the company's budget, culture, and the preferences of the employees.

Giving holiday gifts can help boost employee morale, strengthen employee-employer relationships, and foster a positive work environment.

What are employee holiday gifts?

Employee holiday gifts are a form of recognition given by employers to their employees during the festive season. This is like an occasion to showcase appreciation and gratitude to uplift an organization and overall company culture.

Listen, recognize, award, and retain your employees with our Employee engagement software  

What are the types of employee holiday gifts?

Here are several types of employee holiday gifts:

  • Branded merchandise: Items like branded apparel, stationery, or accessories featuring the company's logo. This not only serves as a gift but also promotes brand loyalty.
  • Gift cards: Prepaid cards or vouchers for popular retailers, restaurants, or online platforms, allowing employees to choose items or experiences they prefer.
  • Cash bonuses: Monetary bonuses or cash gifts as a way to provide financial recognition during the holiday season.
  • Customized gifts: Personalized items such as engraved pens, custom-made calendars, or monogrammed items that carry a personal touch.
  • Technology gadgets: Small electronic devices, such as headphones, fitness trackers, or portable chargers, which are practical and appreciated by many.
  • Subscription services: Gifting subscriptions to services like streaming platforms, book clubs, or meal kit deliveries for employees to enjoy over an extended period.
  • Holiday hampers or gift baskets: Thoughtfully curated gift baskets containing gourmet foods, chocolates, or seasonal treats.
  • Wellness and self-care items: Items like essential oil diffusers, spa vouchers, or fitness equipment to promote well-being and relaxation.
  • Event tickets: Tickets to concerts, shows, sporting events, or other entertainment activities, allowing employees to enjoy a memorable experience.

What are the tax implications for employee holiday gifts?

Here are some considerations regarding the tax implications of employee holiday gifts:

1. Taxable income

  • In some jurisdictions, any non-cash gifts provided to employees may be considered taxable income.
  • This includes holiday gifts, bonuses, or any other form of non-monetary compensation.

2. Gifts with a monetary value

  • If the holiday gift has a monetary value, it may be subject to income tax.
  • For example, if employees receive gift cards or cash bonuses, the value of these items may be considered part of their taxable income.

3. Exclusion limits

  • Some countries or regions have exclusion limits, meaning that gifts below a certain value are not considered taxable.
  • If the value of the gift exceeds this limit, it may be subject to taxation.

4. De minimis fringe benefits

  • In certain jurisdictions, small, non-cash gifts considered "de minimis fringe benefits" may be exempt from taxation.
  • These are typically low-value items, such as promotional merchandise, with a minimal impact on the employee's overall income.

5. Company policies:

  • Company policies and practices regarding gift-giving and the treatment of gifts for tax purposes can influence the tax implications. Employers should communicate any relevant policies to employees.

6. Reporting requirements:

  • Employers may be required to report the value of non-cash gifts provided to employees to tax authorities. This is common for gifts that exceed a certain threshold.

What is the deadline for deciding on and purchasing employee holiday gifts?

Here are some general guidelines to consider when determining the timeline:

1. Early planning (months in advance)

  • For companies planning to provide customized or branded gifts, or for those considering significant purchases, it's advisable to start the planning process months in advance.
  • This allows ample time for decision-making, design, and ordering.

2. Budget planning (2-3 months in advance)

  • Establishing the budget for employee holiday gifts should be done well in advance.
  • This allows the company to allocate funds appropriately and ensures that the chosen gifts align with the budgetary constraints.

3. Decision making (1-2 months in advance)

  • Deciding on the type of holiday gifts and finalizing the selection should take place at least one to two months before the intended distribution date.
  • This allows time for any necessary approvals and adjustments.

4. Ordering and customization (4-6 weeks in advance)

  • If the chosen gifts require customization or branding, placing the order should be done several weeks before the planned distribution.
  • Customization processes can take time, and unexpected delays may occur.

5. Shipping and delivery (3-4 weeks in advance)

  • Consider the shipping or delivery time for the gifts.
  • Factor in potential delays during peak holiday seasons or if shipping from international suppliers.
  • Ensuring timely delivery is crucial to avoid any disruptions.

6. Distribution planning (2-3 weeks in advance)

  • Plan for the distribution of gifts within the organization.
  • Determine how and when the gifts will be distributed, whether during a company event, at a holiday party, or through another method.

7. Last-minute options (1-2 weeks in advance)

  • For companies that may have delayed the decision-making process, consider last-minute gift options that can be procured and distributed quickly.
  • This might include gift cards, digital gifts, or items readily available for purchase.

8. Communicate early (throughout the process)

  • Throughout the entire process, communicate with employees about the upcoming holiday gifts.
  • Provide updates on the decision-making process, share sneak peeks of the chosen gifts if possible, and keep employees informed about when they can expect to receive their gifts.

How to determine the budget for an employee holiday gift?

Here are some considerations when determining the budget for employee holiday gifts:

1. Company size and financial health

  • Larger companies with more substantial financial resources might have a higher budget for employee gifts compared to smaller businesses. Assess the financial health of the company and allocate a reasonable amount within budgetary constraints.

2. Industry norms

  • Some industries have established norms for holiday gift-giving. It can be helpful to research what other companies in the same industry or region typically allocate for employee holiday gifts to ensure your budget is in line with expectations.

3. Company culture

  • Consider the company culture and what employees might appreciate. Some companies place a high value on employee recognition and may allocate a more generous budget for gifts, while others may have a more modest approach.

4. Type of gift

  • The type of gift you plan to provide can impact the budget.
  • For example, a small personalized item may require a lower budget than a more substantial gift or a cash bonus. Consider the perceived value and meaningfulness of the gift to employees.

5. Number of employees

  • The total budget needs to account for the number of employees receiving gifts.
  • If your workforce is large, a smaller budget per person may still result in a significant overall expense.

6. Tax considerations

  • Be aware of tax implications. In some jurisdictions, there may be tax considerations for both the company and the employees regarding the value of gifts.
  • Consult with tax professionals to ensure compliance with regulations.

7. Alternatives to physical gifts

  • Consider alternative ways to express appreciation, such as organizing holiday events, team-building activities, or providing extra time off. These alternatives may have associated costs, and the budget should account for them.

8. Employee preferences

  • If possible, gather feedback or insights from employees about the types of gifts they would appreciate.
  • This can help tailor the gift selection and budget to better meet their expectations.

Are there any company policies regarding employee holiday gifts for employees?

Here are some common policies and considerations that companies might have in place:

1. Gift-giving guidelines

  • Some companies have explicit guidelines about the types and values of gifts that are acceptable.
  • This can include specifying a maximum value for individual gifts to maintain fairness and prevent potential ethical concerns.

2. Gifts from clients or vendors

  • Policies may address how to handle gifts from clients, customers, or vendors.
  • Some companies may have rules about accepting or declining such gifts to maintain impartiality and ethical standards.

3. Employee exchanges

  • If the company encourages or organizes employee gift exchanges (such as a Secret Santa), there may be guidelines on the budget for these exchanges to ensure consistency and fairness among participants.

4. Cash or gift cards

  • Some companies prefer to provide cash bonuses or gift cards as holiday gifts, while others may choose specific items or experiences.
  • Policies may dictate the preferred form of gift or set limits on cash amounts.

5. Tax implications

  • Policies may address the tax implications of holiday gifts for both the company and employees.
  • This is especially relevant when providing cash bonuses or high-value items.

6. Inclusivity and sensitivity

  • Companies may have policies promoting inclusivity, ensuring that holiday gifts are considerate of diverse backgrounds and beliefs.
  • This may involve offering a range of gift options or allowing employees to choose their preferred gift.

7. Recognition programs

  • Some companies incorporate holiday gift-giving into broader employee recognition programs.
  • These programs may have specific criteria for eligibility or tie gifts to performance metrics.

8. Communication of policies

  • Clear communication of any holiday gift policies is essential.
  • Employees should be aware of the guidelines, including how gifts will be distributed, what they can expect, and any limitations on their participation.

9. Contribution to charity

  • Some companies choose to make a charitable contribution on behalf of employees rather than providing traditional gifts.
  • Policies may outline the process and criteria for selecting and contributing to charities.

10. Flexibility and adaptability

  • Policies should be flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances, such as economic conditions or shifts in company priorities.
  • Regular reviews of policies ensure they remain relevant and aligned with company values.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

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