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6 Inexpensive Ideas for Thanksgiving Employee Appreciation

Posted On11/19/2019

ContributorSheri Pepper

By Catherine Tansey

Thanksgiving is about gratitude. We express thanks for good health, favorable circumstances, and the relationships in our lives—including those of our co-workers and employees. Ensuring people feel valued and appreciated year-round is essential for successful employee engagement and retention, and Thanksgiving employee appreciation is a great time to let your company’s efforts shine. Like all authentic expressions of gratitude, Thanksgiving 2019 need not break the bank. Here are six Thanksgiving ideas for employees this year.

1. Plan a Potluck

Skip the catered lunch and invite employees to contribute to a globally themed potluck. Turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing rule the month of November, and it’s easy to tire of these heavy and traditional foods. Instead, celebrate your office’s diversity and employee culinary chops by requesting individuals just bring in a favorite dish—bonus points if it’s an international one. Bonding over food is powerful, and employees get a chance to break from work, interact with cross-functional team members, and talk about food—always a lively topic of conversation.

2. Facilitate a Group Volunteer Opportunity

Thank employees by organizing a volunteer outing for the office and treating everyone to a meal or cup of coffee after the event. Today’s employees are eager to be part of a team that’s community-oriented and focuses on giving back. While a day out of the office donating time and good spirit may not feel like a traditional way to say thanks, employees want proof of an organization’s social values, and this approach will surely make an impact.

3. Organize a Pie Swap

Eat dessert first! Arrange an office pie swap to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and encourage everyone to participate. Include a sign-up sheet for individuals to jot down their name and the type of pie they’d like to bake. Then set aside time in the afternoon for pie, coffee, and social connection.

4. Host a Pumpkin Spice Contest

Since its debut in 2003, pumpkin spice latte has become firmly engrained in the North American cultural zeitgeist, but the ubiquitously fall flavor is delicious in far more than lattes. This Thanksgiving host a pumpkin spice contest and invite employees to get creative with their contributions. Award the winner a gift card, half-day off, or other gift that acknowledge their creative contribution. It’s a modern and seasonally appropriate way to take a break from work, share yummy treats, and host a little friendly competition.

5. Send Handwritten Thank You Notes

Digital communication rules our everyday lives. Be it text messages, email, or group messengers, we rely on keyboards and screens to get in touch and exchange information—oftentimes even our sincerest thanks. For this year’s Thanksgiving employee appreciation, consider putting pen to paper with handwritten thank-you notes. Studies show the act of writing and sending a handwritten note are positive and profound for both the sender and recipient. And remember, great thank you notes share common features: they’re heartfelt, specific, and personalized.

6. Give Everyone Friday Off

Want a Thanksgiving gesture that’s sure to make employees feel appreciated and valued? Give them a day off. Most companies include the Friday after Thanksgiving as a company holiday, but not all. If it’s feasible for your business, consider offering Friday as a paid or floater holiday. Show employees you value their time and hard work by giving them an extra day to spend with family and friends. It won’t go unnoticed.

Purchasing gifts or expensive catered lunches is a common way to express employee appreciation for Thanksgiving, but there are many ways to say Thank You. Be sincere in making employees feel valued and creative in your approach. Our list is a great place to start!