Every December, the issue of gift-giving adds another layer of stress to what's often an already difficult season for business owners. Do you need to buy gifts for your employees? All of them? If you employ only five people, no big deal. But if you have dozens of workers, there goes your holiday party budget.

Don't worry. If you play your cards right, you can buy a single item for your entire office--and make everyone happier than they'd be with their individual trinkets. Here are the seven best gift options for your entire team this holiday season.

1. Office greenery

Trees in your front entrance. Succulents on desks. Even a little bit of greenery can go a long way, as long as you don't forget to do the watering. An oft-cited study from 2014 revealed that plants in the office increased workers' happiness and productivity by a whopping 15 percent. And yet, the majority of offices aren't well-designed, which could be affecting your employees' mental well-being. Fix it by turning your office into a lush, verdant paradise.

2. Upgraded kitchen

Everyone complains about office kitchens. The coffee is mediocre. Fridge thieves abound. But if you can introduce a touch of fanciness, you'll turn that kitchen into a source of employee pride and gratitude. For example, you could add an espresso machine--some name brands like Nespresso will cost you only around $100. Or, take it a step further and add drinks on tap: iced coffee, kombucha, or even beer. Just make sure first that your dishwasher can handle the increased load.

3. An evening out

Your employees have been working hard all year long. Reward their efforts by treating them to a fun evening. There are plenty of options. You could foot the bill for a nice dinner. Send the whole crew out on a movie night. Take a trip to a local escape room, as long as you don't make it all about work (that is, do it just for fun, not as a team-building exercise). Almost anything will work here, as long as you physically get out of the office.

4. A long-weekend trip

If you've got the budget, here's the amped-up version of an evening out: Take your office somewhere remote for a long weekend. If you're seeking warmth, hit the beach. Feeling wintery? Go on a ski trip. It's particularly important here to keep things as non-work-focused as possible. This is a holiday gift, not a strategy retreat. Just make sure your employees don't go overboard on the freedom. If they do, your HR department will be pretty busy the following week.

5. Company subscriptions

You have the obvious options: Sign your office up for a cheese-of-the-month club or, if you're feeling boozy, a wine-of-the-month club (you may need multiple subscriptions, depending on the size of your team). Get company-sponsored season tickets to a local sports team. Or, like many of the companies on Inc.'s Best Workplaces list, you can get creative. New York City-based Enigma Technologies gives employees full access to a music studio near its office. Punch, a cyber operations firm in Ashburn, Virginia, foots the bill for any book employees want to order from Amazon.

6. Blanket fort

You probably have one too many conference rooms, or at least some underused space in your office. And even if they're not saying it out loud, your entire team is wishing for Casper-esque nap pods or even just a comfy sofa to work from. Here's a relatively cheap alternative: Retrofit one of those spaces in the name of comfort. Fill it with couches, pillows, and blankets. Unveil it to great fanfare. Enjoy your new status as the world's greatest boss.

7. Dog Day

Or a cat day. Or even a lizard day. The point is, everyone loves animals--and letting your employees bring them into the office for a day (or even an hour) would be a fantastic holiday gift. Alternatively, bring in some canines through a therapy dog organization. Plenty of college campuses host therapy dogs in the days before finals, and this is simply the corporate version. You probably shouldn't do this if any of your employees have severe allergies. But if not, embrace the cuteness of puppies in your workplace.

Published on: Dec 2, 2019