There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love birthdays and those who dread them. Drawing attention to getting older or any attention at all makes some people feel uncomfortable. But we’re not talking about the kind of celebration that entails singing and clapping while the birthday honoree awkwardly sits in the middle and doesn’t know what to do with their hands. We’re talking about birthday gifts for employees that are subtle, refined, and thoughtful – the ones that make people feel important on the one day of year that belongs to them!

Corporate gifting and recognition efforts undoubtedly boost morale and employee retention rates. For global companies, these efforts are critical for maintaining a positive company culture from anywhere in the world. Birthdays are excellent opportunities to recognize individuals on a much more personal level. Somewhere along the path of adulthood, a lot of people stop celebrating their birthdays. Statistically, birthday celebrations taper off by the time a person reaches 31. Over 80% of working Americans agree that if employers celebrated personal milestones such as birthdays, employee morale would be higher in the workplace. Acknowledging one’s birthday may seem like a small and perhaps futile gesture, but often it’s the little things that make the largest impact.

Best Practices for Employee Birthday Gifts

While you can’t really go wrong by wishing someone a happy birthday, here are a few basic tips to follow to ensure your employee gifting program is both fair and unique.

Be consistent. 

The thing about birthdays is everyone’s got one. So it’s important to maintain an even playing field in terms of the cost and quality of gifts. Set a standard budget so that no one gets a gift that is outrageously better (or worse) than anyone else’s. 

Read more about budgeting in our blog post, How to Set a Swag Budget: Balancing Costs and Impact.

Make it personal. 

Just because the budget is standardized, does not mean the gifts themselves have to be! Personalize gifts to the employee’s role or interests so that they feel extra special and seen on their birthday. This could entail engraving the product with their initials or choosing something relevant to their hobbies or personality.

Plan ahead. 

Another thing about birthdays: they happen on the same date every year. Your HR department has everyone’s birthdays on record, so use this data to be proactive and develop a strategy. Make sure gifts are delivered on time so that no one feels like an afterthought if theirs arrives late but their coworker’s arrives early.

The planning and implementation process can quickly feel complicated and overwhelming, especially with larger teams, so partnering with an all-in-one distributor like Imprint Engine will streamline your birthday program. Read more about how we work

11 Thoughtful and Unique Birthday Gifts for Employees

1. Branded Loungewear

Getting new clothes is exciting — even for the least fashion-forward members of your office. Refresh their branded wardrobe with a new set of premium loungewear like a custom crewneck and matching shorts. If you know they enjoy a certain activity or sport, choose apparel that fits their lifestyle! 

2. Sweets and Treats

Everyone deserves to treat themselves on their birthday. Gift baskets with a variety of goodies are a great option or assorted nuts for a healthier alternative. (Just make sure you’re aware of any dietary restrictions!) For remote workers, there are plenty of gourmet delivery services to send treats directly to their home. If you’re unsure of dietary restrictions and you don’t mind sacrificing the element of surprise, give the recipient a few options to choose from.

3. Spa Gift Set

Self-care is inclusive to everyone. Besides, who doesn’t want to enter their new year of life with the proper tools to pamper themselves? Curate the perfect spa set containing relaxing products like candles, hand lotion, essential oils, or face masks. For men, we love this luxury shaving set.

4. Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Noise-cancelling headphones make a great gift for anyone who works in a loud office or even a particularly chaotic home office. They’re also a safe bet for people who take a lot of phone calls or are known to enjoy listening to music while they work, exercise, and relax. Depending on the recipient’s preferences, you can’t go wrong with Bose’s Quietcomfort® over-the-ear headphones or wireless earbuds by JBL.

5. Coffee Sampler

For the caffeine-lover on your team, a coffee sampler is a fitting way to wish them a happy birthday. The same goes for tea drinkers! A tea or coffee sampler not only gives them an opportunity to try new variations of their favorite drink, it shows them that you pay attention to their preferences. This coffee sampler by Maple Ridge Farms includes two packages of gourmet coffee and a variety of cookies for delectable dunking.

6. Laptop Bag or Backpack

Say ‘happy birthday’ by upgrading employees’ work bags or backpacks to a higher-end option that better stores and protects their goods. Bags go through a lot of wear and tear, so it’s safe to assume they could use a new one! Take note of any colors or bag styles that you think your recipient would like best. We love this high-end, sleek backpack by Troubadour, this mid-tier, recycled backpack by Herschel, and this luxurious Bellroy Work Bag.

7. Power Bank

A really nice power bank is one of those gadgets you didn’t know you needed until you own one. They’re convenient and useful for work travel since they’re compact and charge devices on-the-go. This power bank by HPG is solar-powered, so users don’t even need an outlet! Just make sure you choose one that is compatible with your recipient’s phone! 

8. Daily Inspiration Cards

Inspirational cards double as desk decor and weekly affirmations. They’re an easy way to tell people that you care about their mental health and provide them with bite-sized moments of inspiration throughout the year—not just on their birthday. 

9. Desk Plant

Liven up people’s workspace with a desk plant! You can even add some personal flair with a custom container or planter. Surprise in-person employees with a beautiful plant on their desk on their birthday or send remote employees a custom plant through a delivery service

10. Flowers

Like desk plants, flowers are a meaningful surprise to leave on someone’s desk or send directly to their home on their birthday. Bonus points if you happen to know their favorite flower or colors! You can also personalize the experience by having the vase engraved or including a handwritten note.

11. Books

There are probably some serious book-lovers on your team. Whether or not you know their favorite author or genre, a bookstore gift card would be a safe choice. Books related to your industry or the person’s role are other great options that not only tap into their interests but promote learning and development as well. 

Celebrate Your Employees with Custom Gifts from Imprint Engine

We love helping companies engage and impact their team. From choosing and customizing gifts to organizing a strategy and budget, Imprint Engine can help you step-by-step — all the way through getting the final product into your end consumer’s hands just in time for their special day.

Contact us to set up a seamless birthday program.