Seven Surefire Ways to Thank Your Team this Holiday Season

The holidays are a traditional time to share thanks and appreciation, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to share some love and light with your team as 2021 turns into 2022.

But, when your team works from home–whether across town or the country–some of the traditional holiday options for thanking people are off the table. You can’t easily order lunch for a conference room party, bring in donuts, or drop off coffee.

If thinking about the logistics of thanking your team has you sitting on the sidelines, we are here to help. Over the years, we’ve watched many small business owners with remote teams share appreciation in ways that are big and small.

In this blog, we’ve rounded up our best ideas for saying thank you and appreciating your team members from afar. Some of these ideas require an investment of time, money, or both. Some are free or low-cost. All say “thank you.” 

The key is to find the right mix for your team and your budget. And, since we understand that you’re busy, check out our quick-and-dirty checklist at the end for a step-by-step guide to making the process of holiday appreciation a cinch.


Find a way to show your appreciation

There are so many ways to thank your team. Consider these options, all of which can stand alone or be mixed and matched depending on the size of your team, your budget, and your relationships.

  • Write heartfelt notes to each team member. Appreciation doesn’t have to come with a price tag. Taking the time to write and mail and note to each team member can go a long way to making team members feel appreciated. An email can work, too. But, a physical card serves as a tangible token of your appreciation.

In your note, include specific things you appreciate about the person. Stick with sincere appreciation for particular qualities that person brings to the team. For example, saying: “I appreciate your daily dedication and knowing that you’ll cheerfully complete any task on-time and with accuracy,” is more effective than “I appreciate all the things you do for us.”

  • Host a virtual holiday party. Set up an hour for everyone to come together for a holiday lunch. During the party, ask people to share their holiday and end-of-year plans, reflect on the year and offer your sincere thanks for the work everyone has put in during the year. If it fits your budget, send gift cards out in advance and ask team members to order lunch to make the experience more festive. 

Keep the mood light with a few easy games. Steer away from work talk as much as possible. Your holiday party is not the occasion to provide a quarterly update or launch a new idea. 

  • Share regional tastes. Food gifts are a holiday staple for a reason–people love to receive them and share them with their families. We love the idea of sharing regional specialties with your remote teams to provide the flavor of your locale with your team. For example, if you are in Chicago, share some world-class pizza by mail. If your office is in a southern state, your team members in the north will be thrilled to get some locally-grown citrus fruit this holiday. 

If regional tastes prove difficult, many companies offer treats to ship. Options range from baked goods to charcuterie platters to bacon flights. There’s something for every taste and budget.

  • Send a group gift. Selecting the same item for everyone on your team will make your gift-giving easy if you decide to go the route of a holiday gift. For virtual teams, we like gadgets that make it easier to work at home. For example, a wireless mouse pad or a unique coffee mug that won’t spill. If you have a large budget or want to splurge, consider a standing desk or a gift card for a new office chair. 

Subscriptions work well in this space, too. You can find monthly international snack boxes, seasonal home decorating kit subscriptions, and coffee clubs. Magazine and app subscriptions are always welcome gifts. A subscription is an excellent way to let your team know that you appreciate them all year long.

  • Share a personal gift. If you have a small team and know each person well, a personal gift can be a great option. This approach may take a little longer but can make a lot of sense on close-knit teams. 

A modest by meaningful option is to arrange to have flowers delivered to your team member. (A festive centerpiece right before a holiday is always a welcome surprise.) Likewise, a candle or piece of home or office decor makes welcome gifts that can be sent to your team member’s home.

Handbags and accessories, like winter gear and trendy jewelry, are lovely gifts if you know the recipient well. 

If you have a larger budget, consider experiences you know your team members might enjoy, such as concert tickets, a spa day, or even a weekend away.

  • Offer a holiday bonus. A holiday bonus is a classic move. This is a tried-and-true option that employers have done for years. Cash is always appreciated. But, it can be expensive and can seem impersonal. Also, extra cash in a paycheck has a way of blending in with other money and may get lost in the holiday shuffle.

Gift cards are a nice variation on the holiday bonus. Virtually every retail and online establishment now offers a gift card, making them easy to purchase and deliver electronically. If moms comprise your team, consider a gift card for a service that they might not buy for themselves–for example, a massage or a manicure. 

  • Surprise your team with time away from work. Give your team an extra paid vacation day to be used in the upcoming year, or offer a few unexpected days off during the holidays as a way to share appreciation. This unexpected gift of time will tell your team that you value them, appreciate their time each day, and encourage them to recharge with an extra break. 

Create an action plan

This is not the year to wait until the last minute to plan for holiday activities. This is especially true if you plan to send gifts and need to rely on shipping. Supply issues and shipping delays could turn your end-of-your gifts into Valentine’s Day gifts. 

Here’s your holiday appreciation playbook:

  • Make a list of all the people on your team. Compiling a list prevents you from inadvertently leaving anyone out of your holiday appreciation efforts. As part of this step:
    • Decide if you want to include part-time employees and contractors. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question and will vary based on factors like your relationships, how long you’ve worked together, and your budget.
    • Ensure that you have up-to-date physical addresses for people on the list.
  • Commit to an approach. The ideas listed in this blog are a great place to start. Consider if you want to:
    • Take a one-size-fits-all approach, which is popular for larger teams.
    • Send more personalized gifts, which can make sense and feel more intimate for smaller teams but is likely to take more significant effort.
    • Pursue a hybrid approach with different options for long-term employees and part-time team members or contractors. 

 Either can work. It’s really a matter of preference. 

  • Establish a gifting budget. You can set an overall budget, one for each team member or both. Starting with a budget will make it easier to find the right items and prevent splurging.
  • Schedule time to take action. Add time to your calendar to put your plans into motion. Whether you need to shop, schedule virtual parties, or write out cards, showing your appreciation at the holidays takes time. 


How do you say thank you?

We love to hear about all the ways people appreciate each other. Tell us what you do! Tell us about the best gift you’ve ever given or received.


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Remote Teams, Work From Home