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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

11 Memorable Ways to Thank Your Boss This Year (That Don't Involve Generic Gift Cards)

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With the holidays and Secret Santas in full swing, December at the office can be a fun, but crazy time.

But, if you’re lucky enough to have a great manager, don’t get so lost in the festivities that you forget to show your appreciation. Trust me: The right gesture will be remembered long after the holiday party.

Need some ideas on how to thank your boss without overspending or overdoing it? Below, 11 startup founders from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) share the most memorable gifts they have ever received from members of their team.

Bonus: Many are low- or no-cost, too.

1. Put Together a Scrapbook of Thanks

My employees all got together and created a scrapbook filled with notes thanking me for my hard work over the year. They were filled with specific instances when I did or said something that positively impacted them. I still have that book because their gratitude was one of the most memorable gifts I’ve ever received.

Dave Nevogt,

2. Do Something for Others

Two years ago we had an employee who decided he wasn’t giving anyone at work a gift. Instead, he went out and purchased gifts for a family in need. He purchased everything and took several of us from work to deliver the gifts. The joy this brought us was intense. Since then we’ve encouraged our team to give to others during this time of need.

John Rampton, Due

3. Show Your Continued Dedication

The memorable moments are often the most simple. So often we hear about how people just simply seem to slow down during the holiday season and take a little winter break. Employees who continue working through the holidays and don’t treat it as a mini-vacation are always appreciated. They allow me to realize the value in my team.

Matt Doyle, Excel Builders

4. Buy Unique Gifts

I hired a programmer four years ago who had just arrived in Miami from Cuba. After a year of working together, he went back to visit his family during the holidays and came back with a box of Cohiba Cigars and a bottle of Havana Club Dark Rum.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

5. Get Creative

At our annual end-of-the-year holiday party, one of our employees wrote and performed a rap in front of about 80 to 90 other staff members. It was really well done and funny, and it took a lot of dedication. It was all that people could talk about for quite some time after the party.

Brian David Crane, Caller Smart Inc.

6. Cook for Your Team

We’ve had teammates cook meals for the team and bring them to the office as a surprise. It’s a gift that everyone appreciates, particularly when the food is inspired by the taste preferences of fellow colleagues.

Nanxi Liu, Enplug

7. Write a Handwritten Note

A handwritten note that says something special is always appreciated. Just something that mentions a small detail he or she picked up on or an exchange that we had sounds simple—but it’s truly appreciated.

Peter Sena, Digital Surgeons

8. Plan Something Special

I was shocked one year when the employees got together to collect money and gifted me with a paid vacation! Knowing how hard I work, they knew I needed time off to relax and wind down, and planned a lovely weekend getaway for me. It was a wonderful and touching gift, one I will never forget!

Marcela DeVivo, National Debt Relief

9. Offer to Help in Unexpected Ways

Sometimes my holiday shopping is put on the back burner due to my long hours in the office. My team’s helped me with Christmas shopping and gift wrapping to help lessen the stress that comes with this season. What seems like a small favor to them means a great deal to me. Their help allows me to finish my work so I can truly enjoy the holidays with my family, and I am very thankful for that.

Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

10. Decorate the Office

I was very surprised one morning to walk into the office and it was completely decorated with Christmas decorations that matched our company colors. I was very impressed with the team, as most days I’m the first one in and the last one out. They did a great job of keeping it a secret, and they took it as far as getting a company-colored custom quilt made that was placed under the tree.

Engelo Rumora, Ohio Cashflow

11. Broadcast Your Thankfulness

I vividly remember a number of toasts or speeches employees of all different rankings have made during our holiday parties over the years. It’s a great way to differentiate yourself by broadcasting your thankfulness and vision.

Sam Saxton, Salter Spiral Stair and Mylen Stairs