Holiday Swag: Employee Gift Ideas for 2020

Timely ideas for branded gifts to show employee appreciation

by Jason Miller, CEO @ PromoLeaf

Chances are, 2020 has changed things for your company and the way you interact with employees. Likely you have onboarded remote workers, dealt with remote worker burnout, and had to plan holiday parties and other events remotely

Now it’s come down to the final stretch, and you’re looking for employee gift ideas for 2020. With more employees working remotely than in the office, this presents a unique challenge. The typical employee swag won’t do, and a gift card just says, “I had no idea what to get you, so here is some money.”

Here are some timely ideas for branded gifts you can give your employees in 2020 that are both practical and show your appreciation for their hard work this year, especially as we continue dealing with the challenges of this “unprecedented” year that has brought on a “new normal.”


First and foremost, the remote worker’s apparel has changed from business casual to loungewear and warm socks. Your employees are also probably tired of sitting at home in isolation, so getting into the great outdoors is also on their minds. 

That means company branded items like jackets and outerwear make great gifts. Alternatively, you can lean into the casual athletic wear trend and gift anything from socks emblazoned with your company logo to sweatpants for those “waist up” Zoom meetings. 

When it comes to customized apparel, there are dozens of choices, and you can decide what will resonate best with your employees, both new hires and veterans of the company.

Food and Drink

Everybody needs to eat and drink, pandemic or not. This year, the traditional office party buffet or potluck is out of the question, but that doesn’t mean you can’t feed everyone. Of course, there are choices to be made, and it’s important that the gifts you send align with your company culture. 

For instance, the gift basket filled with chocolates and sweets might not be the best fit beside your one-year gym membership benefit. However, you can also choose alternatives with a more health-conscious focus, keepsake baskets, picnic baskets, and more. You can also gift items like branded olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and other cooking essentials.

The gift of nourishment is both timely and timeless. 

Home Office Gifts

When it comes to working from home, your employees have both needs and wants. A recent survey by PromoLeaf revealed some of the challenges that come with remote work. Among the things listed was the lack of access to office supplies and other items often found in the office. 

This can include things like mousepads, screen cleaning supplies, the coffee machine, and other supplies. Things like desk organizers, planners, thumb drives, laptop sleeves, and others are not only thoughtful but practical. You’ll show employees that you know about the challenges they face, care about them, and intend to help them overcome them. 

Also listed in the PromoLeaf survey was the challenge of getting focused at home. There are things that help, like speakers to pipe in background music, headphones to isolate your employee from distractions, and even make their video calls a better experience.

Gifts that respond directly to the new work-at-home environments are real-world solutions that make fantastic gifts. 

Health Conscious Gifts

For some, the past year has allowed them to focus more on their health. For others, it has been a challenging year with gyms opening and closing and the adoption of more “workout at home” routines. 

There are many options for branded gifts that fit this bill, from yoga mats to personal care items, stress balls, to hand sanitizer; you can use this season to reinforce the message of personal health and fitness. Healthier employees are more productive and happier, and you can even offer the gift of at-home fitness apps or workout subscriptions to replace gym memberships. 

Help your employees focus on their health this coming year through gifts that fit the bill. 

Your Message

Your company is unique, from your culture and your focus to the products or the service you provide.

Including your logo and your message on the gifts you give your employees is just one way to express this. The gift you give says a lot too. 

Think about your business and what your values are. Then think about the message the gifts you give send to your employees. 

  • Compasses and camping gear speak to your company’s direction and focus. 
  • Fitness items show you value personal and professional health.
  • Coolers, beach items, and picnic gear encourage your employees to get outside with their time off. 
  • Flashlights, binoculars, tools, and other items speak volumes about vision and what your company does.
  • Gift sets with a variety of items illustrate an excellent work-life balance. 

What message do you want to send to your employees this holiday season? A well-researched gift reveals the thought and level of care that went into it. If you’re still unsure which type of gift your employees would most prefer, it may be best to put the decision in their hands. Creating a customized holiday gift catalog is another great option for last-minute ideas — one that represents your business and your leadership team on a personal level. You can even make it an annual tradition!

The best employee gift ideas for 2020 aren’t just items to check off a list of things to do. The more thought you put into them, the more your employees will love and appreciate them. And there’s no substitute for the gift of loyalty an employee will give you in return.

Author Bio: Jason Miller is an entrepreneur and CEO of Promoleaf who has founded several companies in the advertising specialty industry. He enjoys skiing, mountain biking and spending time with his wife and two sons.

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