It’s that time of year again — the holiday season is upon us all. From November to January, there are so many different holidays and celebrations. From religious observances to ugly sweater parties and New Year’s Eve Gala or game nights — parties and gift ideas run the gamut. As an organization and team, thinking of ways to celebrate your team can be a challenge. You want it to feel meaningful and personal.

It can be easy to go with a classic and overdone gift of a coffee mug. It’s likely you’ve received more than one random or logoed hot cup. If you’re looking for a more unique and memorable experience for your team, fear not. Keep reading for ideas that go beyond the mug.

Switch Up the Glassware

People might expect a coffee mug with some hot cocoa in it. But would they expect a different beverage vessel? If Barb loves a good margarita after work, get her a fancy glass with some limes and a mixer. Does John consume his body weight in water every day in the name of health? A personalized Hydro Flax might make him happy. A holiday-themed case of Dr. Pepper might be just the ticket for Gerald, who loves his caffeine.

This unique idea expands on the traditional and perhaps oversaturated idea of a coffee cup. It adds a personal flair and shows you know what your team member enjoys. It’s also a bit practical because you already know they love it and would be drinking it anyway. It’s something thoughtful and will be put to use.

Personalized Gift Boxes

Take your employees’ interests to heart and get them a personalized gift box. Are they a techie, music lover, parent, dog lover, or runner? Put together a themed box with their interests that’s in your budget. This could be one or two small things, like a reindeer squeak toy and treats for their dog. Or it could be something big like a Bose speaker for the music lover.

You could put these together yourself if you have a smaller team in person. There are also companies that create these for you based on experience and price-point and deliver them to the recipient. This could be a great option if you have a virtual team. It can connect everyone no matter the distance. The unboxing experience is fun for your team members as well.

Secret Santa

It can be a challenge to get everyone you work with the perfect holiday gift. The cost of getting something for everyone in the office can also balloon upwards. There are also likely team members who don’t want to give or receive gifts for a particular reason. Get a pulse on how many employees want to participate in the gift-giving season. You can do this by setting up a calendar invite for a Secret Santa event.

Give your team a timeframe to sign up, so you know everyone who accepts wants to take part. Next, draw names, set a price limit, add wish lists, and pick the gift exchange date. There are even websites that can automate this process for you. If you have a virtual team, set up a time to open gifts on a video call. This can help with company culture, and feels special spending time getting to focus on one person’s gift.

Skip Gifts for Experiences

What’s a more distinct gift than one you can’t unwrap? Get creative and give an experience. Memories last longer than a gift card, after all. Get to know the person you are giving and plan something fun they wouldn’t normally treat themselves to. Now, if you’re blessing one person this holiday season, maybe you could find tickets to a concert or sporting event.

If you’re a leader planning an experience for your whole time, you might have to consider budget and cohesion. You could take out your team for a winter team-building experience at the ice rink. Or plan a hot chocolate 5k through a beautifully lit-up neighborhood together. Depending on where you’re based, sledding or skiing could even be an option. You could add prizes for attendees to win at the event as well.

Give Back Together

The holidays are a time for giving. If you’re having a tough time deciding what to give your team, maybe consider giving back together. Helping others and dedicating one’s time to serving the community does more than meet a need. It connects you to something larger than yourself. Doing a volunteer activity as a work event creates a larger cultural message internally as well.

There are several ways you can go about this. One option is a giving tree where your company adopts a few families in need in the area. Team members can shop for things off the list and bring it in to donate and wrap. Your group could also go out and volunteer at a Food Bank or sing carols at a nursing home as well. Another option is creating a matching gift to a charity of choice that your employee donates to.

Time Off

A lot of organizations strive to obtain a good work-life balance for their workers. What better way is there to show your team that you value them and their time with loved ones than time off from work? If you only have one day off for Christmas, consider giving a second day. You could go beyond your listed holidays and announce the week off for all between Christmas and New Years. This might not be possible depending on your business, but a week off with pay would be a great gift!

Consider your team when thinking about this idea. Do you have a diverse group that celebrates many different holidays during this time? If so, perhaps two floating holidays to use between November and January would be good. This shows you value them personally and what they believe. It also gives them the autonomy to choose when being off is best for them and their loved ones.

Embrace Winter

The winter season, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, can be rough to get through. Cold and freezing temperatures make getting out and about a chore. Couple this with the time the sun is out getting shorter and it can be downright dreary. There’s a reason people call seasonal depression the winter blues.

Keep your team warm and cozy this time of year with fun winter gifts like personalized fuzzy socks or blankets. A coffee or hot chocolate bar in the morning can brighten their day. What about a chili or soup cook-off over lunch one day? Do a random drawing on these days for gift cards or a goodie bag.

Coming up with the perfect gift can be stressful. This is especially true over the holidays when you have so many different people to buy for. Take the stress out of the holidays and find meaningful ways to personalize gifts for your employees. You’re in the driver’s seat too! You can make it as elaborate or as simple as you want – after all, it’s all about making it personal.

Make it make sense for you, your organization, and your employees. Think beyond the mug and create the overall experience you want. From a Secret Santa to volunteering at the local shelter to extra time off, there are many options to fit every budget. Show your team you care and value them this holiday season.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Any Lane; Pexels; Thank you!