How Much Should I Spend on Staff Gifts?

By Daniel Whitehouse

Person holding a personalized Parker IM blue gift pen

How Much Should I Spend on Staff Gifts?

By Daniel Whitehouse

You spend a better chunk of your day-to-day with your employees. One minute you’re rushing through deadlines, the next you’re setting new goals. But to spend so much time together means you’ll need to show some appreciation for the hard work your employees put in, perhaps through staff gifts.

But, professional gifting itself isn’t a bed of roses: The budgeting gets messy. Chaos and dramas arise. And before you know it, no one wants anything to do with your gift ideas.

Depending on the event and the gift recipient, the average amount you can spend on employee gifts ranges between $15–$75 per person per occasion. But, exceptions can still apply.

With a well-thought-out strategy, you can set a decent budget without breaking a sweat. And with our definitive guide on the best affordable staff gifts, we will help you traverse the murky waters of gift-giving in the office.

Ready? Let’s get started.

Staff Gift Ideas: The Top 2 Gift-Giving Categories

Custom Rosewood Desk Name Plate

Everyone wants to feel valued and acknowledged—and your employees are no exception. Besides wage hikes and job promotions, employee gifts are an invaluable investment. In most cases, they help with retention and job satisfaction.

To set the pace, cultivate a healthy gift-giving culture in your workplace to symbolize appreciation.

First, you’ll need to set a budget and think about which gifts correspond to what events. This way, you ensure the gifts you send out have a long-lasting impression. Also, it ensures the gifts don’t risk you appearing extravagant or too cheap.

That said, here are two gift-giving categories you can stick by:

  • Annual individual events (birthday and graduation events)
  • Annual company holidays (Christmas)

Let’s break down each category further below.

1.) Annual Individual Events: The Best Affordable Staff Gifts

The two common events in this category are:

  • Birthday events
  • Graduation events.

For both events, we recommend spending $25–$50 per person per event. Here’s how I break it down below.

2.) Birthdays and Graduation Events: Best Gifts for Employees

Birthdays and graduations are one of life’s epiphany moments. We want to make them unique and get the recognition we deserve.

Now, I know it’s normal to get swept into the bubble of workplace routine. However, this shouldn't deter you from showing appreciation every once in a while.

So, what staff gift ideas stand out in these events?

The best gift ideas for these events are:

1.) Engraved Pen

Black Alexandria Fountain Pen

Alexandria Fountain Pen - Black

You can never go wrong with a budget-friendly personalized pen. It’s an excellent birthday or graduation gift—with a touch of class and elegance, all wrapped up in one package.

And if you’re wondering where to get one, yours truly (Dayspring Pens) have the best customizable pens that are a worthwhile investment.

Are you spoilt for choices? Don’t fret. We’ll help you sift through our wide array of engraved pens. And with a budget of $13.99, our Lumen Light Up Pen is a splendid gift for a birthday or a graduation event.

Shop Now: Luxury Engraved Pens From Dayspring Pens

2.) Gift Card

This low-key option is a great gift for the introverted employee. Even a tiny amount (e.g., $30) will have the employee acknowledge your warm gesture.

For the employee who never skips their 10 a.m. cup of Joe, a Starbucks card can be the perfect gift idea.

Whatever gift card you choose, ensure you do a bit of research before you pull the trigger. The best way you can achieve this is by talking to your staffers. To avoid appearing inappropriate, apply the age-old, yet still practical, golden rule: address your staffers the way you’d like them to speak to you.

But if you struggle to communicate with your coworkers, check out this explainer video by Mindset Coach Preet Kalsi.

So, what about the Christmas holidays?

Annual Company Holidays: Best Christmas Gifts for Employees


It’s that time of the year again: the snow is falling, the world is winding down for a holiday,  and Santa, well, Santa is doing what Santa does best—dishing out gifts!

This is the perfect time to shower your staffers with nice Christmas gifts. Remember, ending the year on a positive note ensures your employees and coworkers feel appreciated.

However, this is where HR teams run into trouble: They’re trying to pick gifts for a diverse employee base while intending to match them to every staff member in the company.

When this happens, the results are far-reaching, and your budget shoots over the roof.

So, how do you dodge the bullets on this one?

Here’s what the not-so-humble Santa in me recommends: Aim to spend between $25–75/per staff. Again, go easy on the Christmas gifts and keep the cards and desk niceties to a minimum. Okay?

 Related Reading: How to Find and Give the Best Secret Santa Gifts for Coworkers

Remember, you still have other holidays along the way that you’ll need to budget for.

With a plethora of expensive and inexpensive gifts out there, we recommend going with these gift ideas below:

Gift (s) Budget
Gift card $25–$45
A chocolate gift box $14.70–$65
Personalized pen Padfolio (Buy here) $25–$49
Customized journals and cases (Buy here) $25–$49
Books $16–$35

Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Staff Gifts

Besides planning and budgeting for each event, there’s a gray area surrounding gifting etiquette in the corporate world. For instance, when you offer certain employees exclusive treatment for getting married, it inadvertently leaves out those who aren’t engaged.

To find the perfect staff gifts, you need to know what pitfalls to avoid. Since I’m a big fan of corporate gift-giving, I recommend following the guidelines below:

  • Say NO to favoritism: Sure, Robert from finance is cranking the numbers up and putting your business on the right trajectory. Does this mean Robert deserves a holiday gift ticket to the Maldives? No! When you favor some coworkers over others, people are likely to get offended. The bottom line: strive always to maintain a balance.
  • Set the right precedent: If you spend $60 per staff this year, then scale down to $35 next year, someone will notice this. As a general rule, set a consistent budget and follow it religiously.
  • Deliver the gifts in person: Don’t drop the gifts on your coworkers' desks with handwritten sticky notes saying how much they mean the world to you. It’s lazy. It shows a lack of civility. Present the gift to the employee with a sincere compliment like, “I appreciate all you’ve done this year.” (I know you can craft a better message than mine)

Budget and Execute with Zeal

People Meeting

When you’re a dedicated leader, you can approach workplace events and holidays with confidence.


You know your staff will feel included and accepted under your lead.

With my advice, it’ll help you steer the wheel when setting budgets around staff gifts. Also, the results are a win-win situation for everyone.

Don’t forget to browse our product catalog for the best corporate gifts. Whether you’re shopping for a graduation event, wedding, or the Christmas holidays, you can find your dream gift with us.

Our pens have been featured by Team Building as one of the Top 10 Best Employee Gifts.

Do you feel like I left anything out? A clarification? Let me know in the comments below!


Daniel Whitehouse is the President and CEO of Dayspring Pens. He uses his expertise with premium writing utensils to create exceptional, intentional products and craft easy-to-understand articles that help both new and experienced users learn more about their writing tools. He lives in Virginia where he and his wife are raising their four children.

To learn more about him and his insights about custom engraved gift pens, follow Daniel on LinkedIn.

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