6 Inexpensive Ways to Celebrate Your Employees This Holiday Season

This year, it’s not just about the bonus. Employers are getting more and more creative with the ways that they reward their employees after a long year of hard work. Unfortunately, for small businesses with a budget to match, it can be hard to find ways to make employees really feel special—a potluck lunch isn’t exactly exciting.

However, there are plenty of ways to spoil your employees without emptying your business bank account. Here are six ways every boss can show their appreciation this year.

  1. Host a Holiday-Themed Activity

From a secret Santa gift swap to a Christmas-themed office scavenger hunt, the holiday themed party ideas are endless. If you’re feeling particularly creative, consider “Conspiracy Santa”, where your office is broken into teams and each one decided what gift is best to get for another part of the office (think accounting vs. sales). After teams decide what gift to get (within a price limit) you give the gift in the New Year.

Be sure to distinguish this from just another team building activity and take your employees out for a drink afterwards, or host a budget-friendly holiday party after—do it during work hours and you can avoid inviting spouses, which means more spending.

  1. Throw an In-Office Holiday Party

Parties are great ways to spoil your employees without the budget-breaking expense of the traditional holiday bonus. Splurge and supply plenty of food and alcohol for the occasion. Host it at the end of a Friday, maybe from 2pm-6pm, to avoid inviting spouses, which can up your costs significantly.

Finally, don’t get so caught up in the fun that you forget to thank your employees, which is the most important part. Give out awards to top performers and recognize their hard work with fun superlatives (First Person in the Office—Always! or Most Likely to Make Everyone Lunch) or inexpensive, $10 gift cards.

  1. Give Extra PTO Time

In a recent poll, consumers were asked what they wanted most for Christmas. Winning by a landslide—35 percent of women and 28 percent of men—was travel. Help your employees do exactly that; instead of giving money this season, give vacation time. Everyone will appreciate the option to take a few extra days off throughout the next year and it won’t cost you anything more than you’re already paying.

  1. Establish Friday Half Days

Along the same lines as giving employees more time off, establish half-day Fridays, once a month. While many companies do this during the summer, this a great way to say, “We appreciate and respect your personal time throughout the entire year.” Start it in the New Year and aim for holiday weekends, giving employees a 4-day weekend whenever possible. They’ll feel celebrated and appreciated all year long, making them more productive and happy.

  1. Host a Friday Morning Brunch

Everyone loves brunch, especially when they get to pour mimosas and dig into a big plate of breakfast food instead of doing work. Avoid forcing people to cook by bringing in a catering company to do it for you—all you’ll have to do is supply the champagne and vodka for Mimosas and Bloody Marys. Use this time to have each manager stand up and say something about their team, perhaps even giving a small gift or token of appreciation to everyone.