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7 Reasons To Avoid Buying Gift Baskets for Employees

A person looking thoughtfully at a gift basket

A new survey by Google found that a majority of gift givers specifically avoid gift baskets as a choice for giving. 67.2% of respondents specifically avoid gift baskets, and only 15% have ever bought one.


Why are the numbers so low? At first glance, gift baskets seem like highly functional and tactical choice, no different than gift certificates.


But it’s only when you give a gift basket (or try to start putting one together) that you realize how many obstacles they pose — or how many snafus they could potentially bring up.


Consumers’ attitudes towards giving gift baskets should tell you something pretty obvious: They’re okay in certain situations, but these are few and far apart.


And when it comes to buying gift baskets for your employees, there are seven reasons why you’d be wiser to avoid this form of gift-giving.

Reason 1) Putting Them Together Gets Pricey

Think about all the small parts that go into crafting your own gift basket. There’s a whole slew of items to consider.


It’s not just the gift themselves that you’ll need to pick out. It’s also the plastic wrapping, the card, the ribbon, and the basket.


Then, there are decorations within the basket such as tissue and wrapping paper, confetti, and even supports or stands for propping up your gifts. After all that is done, you’ll need to pick out the perfect mix of small, novelty-type gifts, coupled with one or two more substantial gifts that act as the showpiece of the whole basket.


It’s surprising how quickly the unit cost of these gift baskets can rise.


Even if you’re not putting together your own, a gift basket needs to exude luxury and high-quality. So you’ll need to find items that are easy on your budget but give that sense of premium quality to your receiver, and that’s a hard balance to strike.

Reason 2) The Risk Of Allergies

One of the most common items in gift baskets are food items. Even if it’s a “spa-themed” basket, there may be at least two or more goodies that are edible.


But the problem is that many end up inedible, and therefore useless. Food allergies are on the rise, and their severity matters greatly when gifting. While one individual may simply experience some mild discomfort, others may experience difficulty breathing, swollen glands, shrunken airways, and hives.


Gift baskets often include items with the most notorious allergens: Chocolate, wine, nuts, seeds, and spreads. Dairy-based products are yet another item you’ll often find in gift baskets.


Sometimes, gift baskets will feature gift certificates that allow individuals to choose their own items, as a way to avoid allergies, but the value of these gift cards is likely to be quite low to compensate for the cost of other items.


Long story short, avoid allergy faux pas by skipping the gift basket idea.

Reason 3) Corporate Taxes

If you have the business budget set aside to show appreciation to employees through gifts, it needs to work for your business, not against.


Gifts from businesses must be below a certain value in order to count for a tax exemption. Above a certain value, the items may be taxable and any income you spend on them will be taxable as well.


So if you think you can write off that expensive gift basket for your employee, think again.

Reason 4) You’ve Got To Get The Theme Right

A spa-themed gift basket? A chocolate-lovers gift basket? A techie-nerd inspired basket?

The options are seemingly endless.


But therein lies the issue: If you don’t know your employees well enough, or you simply haven’t become personal enough to know these nuances, it’s difficult to find the right theme of gift basket.


The whole point of employee gift giving is not only to surprise and delight, but to let your employees know you’re thinking of them and are thankful for all they do. But if they don’t like any of the items your gift basket presents, will that sentiment translate over?


With generic gift baskets, you can always run into complications. But to personalize gift baskets, you’ll need to know your employee on a very personal level. Otherwise, the attempt at gift-giving falls short.

Reason 5) Pre-Made Options Aren’t Flexible

If you choose not to put together your gift basket yourself, you’re left with the option of purchasing them pre-made.


And the problem with this is that many gift baskets feature familiar gifts with variations. A popular example is a scented candle, or a spa-basket that features some kind of body lotion or wash.


How can you know whether these scents are agreeable with your receiver? Worse yet, some strong smells trigger headaches and nausea in certain people with allergies or sensitivities. Anticipating this is one of the trickiest things to manage about gift basket giving, and the lack of flexibility means you’re stuck giving sub-par gifts.

Reason 6) Most Items Are Unusable And Impersonal

In theory, gift baskets sound smart and efficient — Who doesn’t love the idea of opening several little gifts, all neatly arranged and specially chosen?


In reality, the items chosen for a gift basket are often generic. Instead of conveying appreciation and value to your employee, a gift basket ends up being tired and expected.


That’s because most of the items in a pre-made gift basket come standard. They’re some combination of sweets, chocolates, scented candles, popcorn, jams, marmalades, and the like.


These so-called delicacies are things that aren’t usable in everyday life. And what if your receiver recently switched their lifestyle or diet preferences?


In these cases, a simple gift getsure could end up alienating your receiver and highlight how little you really know them. The result is that you make them feel as though their contribution isn’t worth much more than a standard gift basket.

Reason 7) Receivers Can’t Choose What They Want

Whether you opt for a pre-made gift basket or craft one yourself, you’re the one who makes the decisions your employees’ gifts. They can’t necessarily return or exchange the items nor can they choose brands they like — even if they did like all the items included in the gift basket.


In other words, there’s no personal choice. And that’s why gift baskets are simply not a flexible choice for corporate gift-giving.


Flexibility, cost, personalization, and even safety are huge considerations when giving gifts to employees. These may not always be apparent or obvious, but they’re ever present.


Your choice of gift deeply affects your workplace culture. Give a gift of high value, and you’ll foster positive workplace relationships.


These decisions can’t be made lightly.


You want to find a gift that gives you a significant and strategic advantage while still conveying appreciation, gratitude, and value to your employees.


It’s why gift certificates have such an impact on employees.


As a gift and a solution to a need for corporate giving, gift certificates are cost-effective,  allow flexibility in choice, and you avoid the risk that your gift goes unappreciated.