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Holiday Gift Ideas Under $50

Thirty thoughtful employee gifts for small businesses on a budget.

Each year when the holidays rolled around, Rob Rohena used to give his employees Walmart gift certificates. But Rohena grew tired of giving a gift that helped line the pockets of the owners of a giant company. This year, Rohena is switching things up by giving his five employees gift certificates from his company's own clients.

"Our clients were giving us business, so I wanted to give business back to them," says Rohena, founder and chief executive of Goshen, Ind.-based interactive marketing agency Digital Integration Resources. The best part? Rohena barters for the gifts by deducting the amount of each certificate from his clients' bill. "It's a win for everybody," he says.

Selecting the perfect holiday gifts for employees is different for each small-business owner. Perhaps you don't have clients that offer great employee gifts. Maybe you want to shop around for a more affordable or personalized option.

What follows is a comprehensive list of gift ideas -- from food to tech gear to stress relievers -- that can match nearly any holiday budget, from as little as a few dollars up to $50:

The categories:

Food

Melissa Bushell of Baked by Melissa with some of her mini cupcakes.
Melissa Bushell of Baked by Melissa with some of her mini cupcakes.
Photo Courtesy of Baked by Melissa

$10 and under: A $2.95 dark chocolate, hazelnut or milk chocolate Choc-O-Lait stick livens up a warm cup of milk when your employee stirs it in.

$25 and under: Good Karmal's Gift Box ($25) contains 10 delectable pieces of all natural caramel in flavors including vanilla, chocolate and sea salt. Each piece is wrapped in a "fortune" inscribed with a quote of wisdom.

$50 and under: Your employees will love Baked by Melissa's signature stuffed mini cupcakes. For $50 (shipping included) you get 50 cupcakes in a variety of flavors, including chocolate chip pancake and peanut butter and jelly.

 

Business Logos

Peas for Prosperity's black-eye Peas in a Bag are packaged in eco-friendly, reusable gift bags.
Peas for Prosperity's black-eye Peas in a Bag are packaged in eco-friendly, reusable gift bags.
Photo Courtesy of Peas for Prosperity

$10 and under: Your logo on a package of black-eyed peas ($10) from Peas for Prosperity helps spread the Southern tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day for good luck and prosperity in the coming year.

$25 and under: You can add your logo to the Over-the-Seat Car Organizer ($13), a functional gift that reduces car clutter and encourages employees to think of you whenever they get behind the wheel.

$50 and under: This Jupiter 8GB flash drive ($27) is a great gift for helping to keep your employees organized and efficient. They're brightly colored and include your logo.

 

Personalized

Basket O'Books' Movie Night gift basket contains a DVD, movie crosswords book and other treats.
Basket O'Books' Movie Night gift basket contains a DVD, movie crosswords book and other treats.
Photo Courtesy of Basket O'Books

$10 and under: Do you have a lot of employees but a very limited budget? This metal business card holder can be engraved with initials, and you can't beat the price ($7.99).

$25 and under: The Custom Visa Gift Card lets you upload photos and add the recipient's name and a personal message. Gift card fee is $5.95; minimum $10 gift.

$50 and under: If you want your employees to feel really special, consider a personalized gift basket from Basket o' Books (starting at $40). Baskets contain gourmet items, gifts, DVDs, CDs, magazines, books, stationery items, games, puzzles and more.

 

Desktop

A designer chili pepper computer mouse from Pat Says Now.
A designer chili pepper computer mouse from Pat Says Now.
Photo Courtesy of Pat Says Now

$10 and under: A stylish two-tone bamboo pencil/pen cup holder ($5.50) looks great on a desk. And since bamboo is a sustainable resource, the holder also demonstrates your commitment to the planet.

$25 and under: Your employees will be the envy of every office visitor with these cool computer mice ($19.99) in designs including a chili pepper, hotrod and an ace of spades.

$50 and under: The Silverware iPhone/iPod Stand ($27) is a character made from forks and spoons. Functional was never so fun.

 

Business Use

Basket O'Books' Movie Night gift basket contains a DVD, movie crosswords book and other treats.
The Toddy keeps touchscreens clean.
Photo Courtesy of Toddy Gear

$10 and under: Hidden inside these Seven-Year Pens ($7.50) is a jumbo ink cartridge that holds enough ink for -- you guessed it -- seven years.

$25 and under: What allows you to safely clean touch screens on phones and other devices? The Toddy ($14.95) does. It's a double-sided, microfiber cleaning cloth with an antimicrobial coating. They're handcrafted and come in fun colors.

$50 and under: For the employee who has everything (including an iPad): a personalized leather iPad case ($49.95). Choose from red or black leather, and you can add an engraved name.

 

Fun

Give your employee a hand-drawn photo image from MyFaceIcons.com.
Give your employee a hand-drawn photo image from MyFaceIcons.com.
Photo Courtesy of MyFaceIcons

$10 and under: iTunes Gift Certificates ($10) are great for music lovers of all ages.

$25 and under: No one wants to carry a wallet the size of a brick. Consider giving the Multi-Pocket Bi-fold wallet from Big Skinny Wallets ($23.95). It's made of thin material and features extra-wide pockets lined with a rubber backing to prevent your valuables from sliding out.

$50 and under: Is your employee obsessed with Twitter or Facebook? He or she will love these cartoon social media icons (Starting at $39). They're hand-drawn caricatures created from photos that your employees can then use for greeting cards, mobile phones, social media sites and more.

 

Stress Relief

Magic Fishbowl fish require no care or feeding.
Magic Fishbowl fish require no care or feeding.
Photo Courtesy of Office Playground

$10 and under: Aromago Sticks offer an all-natural blend of essential oils that relieve stress and lift your spirits. At $4.99 for the "Revive Stick" package, the price is right.

$25 and under: Watching fish is supposed to be relaxing, but they don't live forever. The Magic Fish Bowl ($14.99) features two magically swimming fish that require no care.

$50 and under: Make your employee feel like a celebrity with a personal assistant from Rent A Smile. For $35, a consultant will help with 30 task requests, including travel arrangements, purchases and more.

 

Gift Cards

With a Kiva Gift Card, employees can make a microloan to a struggling entrepreneur.
With a Kiva Gift Card, employees can make a microloan to a struggling entrepreneur.
Photo Courtesy of Kiva

$10 and under: The Amazon Gift Card is perfect for the book lover (print or e-books). Choose any denomination up to $5,000.

$25 and under: Coffee-loving employees will love a $25 gift card from ROASTe, an online retailer offering 1,000 specialty coffees from more than 50 micro-roasters across the country.

$50 and under: When you buy a Kiva Gift Card (starting at $25) your employees can donate the money to any of the entrepreneurs on Kiva's list who are in need of a loan. When the loan is repaid, they can lend the money to another needy small-business owner or withdraw the money. It's the gift of opportunity.

 

Memory/Photos

Adding a snapshot gives your stationary a personal touch.
Adding a snapshot gives your stationary a personal touch.
Photo Courtesy of TinyPrints

$10 and under: Taking notes is fun with this $9 Small Notebook, which features a personalized photo on the cover.

$25 and under: A custom Christmas ornament with text and photos ($12). Every year at Christmastime employees they will think of you.

$50 and under: These funky Signature Snapshot notecards feature a name and photo. A set of 25 costs $29.

 

Technology

A Jimmy Crystal New York USB Stick is useful and fashionable.
A Jimmy Crystal New York USB Stick is useful and fashionable.
Photo Courtesy of Bloomingdale's

$10 and under: Give a gift that is both high-tech and functional. Cyber Clean ($7.99) is a gel that cleans keyboards or keypads.

$25 and under: If your employees need to use their iPhones while braving the winter elements, Dots iPhone gloves ($20) are ready for the challenge. Special fibers woven invisibly into the fingertips of these merino wool gloves allow you to navigate the touchscreen while also keeping your hands warm.

$50 and under: The Jimmy Crystal New York 2GB USB stick ($48) is covered in colored Swarovski crystals, making technology fashionable. 

 
Margie Zable Fisher, president of Zable Fisher Public Relations, recently launched theprsite.com, a free PR matchmaker service that helps small businesses locate the right PR resources.
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