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Give Holiday Cheer on the Cheap

2318169411_45cc5ef4ef_m.jpgSlashed budgets? Tighter belts? That doesn't mean you have to play Scrooge with your staff when it comes to holiday gifts.

While a fancy present can be welcomed, the old saw about it being the thought that counts holds true in the workplace -- as long as you make the thought a good one.

More than anything, your teams wants to feel appreciated come gift-giving time this year. And while an expensive picture frame or a high-end gift basket does send that message, if you multiply that by too many staff members the costs can go crazy.

Luckily, there are other, more budget-friendly ways to spread the good cheer. Here are some suggestions.

Give the gift of time off. Let everyone leave two hours early each day during a specific holiday week. If coverage is a problem, give half your staff the option to come in late instead.

Host a department lunch at a nice restaurant. Bonus: another opportunity for improving morale.

Send your staff to a movie for the afternoon. Spring for tickets, popcorn, and drinks.

Make your gift useful. A USB flash drive can always come in handy. Almost everyone likes cool earbuds. And a coffee mug filled with candy could be a big, yet inexpensive, hit.

Speaking of sweets... If you know your way around an oven, homemade cookies or other tasty treats can be a cheap way to gladden your staff's hearts. If you don't, your local bakery could surely oblige. Just be cognizant of personal taste and potential allergies to ingredients such as nuts. (And please skip the fruitcake.)

When in doubt, gift cards rule. I know, I know, people always argue that they're not personal enough. But now that there are a gazillion different gift cards out there (my local Safeway grocery store carries about 500 different types), you can tailor your offering to your recipient's tastes. I like nothing better than shop for free at my favorite bookstore.

And if you think that little envelope isn't enough by itself, present it in a mug -- and then give the recipient the afternoon off to shop.

(image by Andrei! via Flickr, CC 2.0)

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