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Unique Ideas and Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day in 2024 

Hey there! With 2024 upon us, it’s time to start planning how to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day this year.


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When is the National Employee Appreciation Day in 2024?

National Employee Appreciation Day is observed on the first Friday in March.

In 2024, National Employee Appreciation Day falls on March 1st, Friday. 

This special day is set aside to recognize and celebrate employees’ efforts and contributions in the workplace.

National Employee Appreciation Day History

The history of Employee Appreciation Day in the United States starts in the year 1995.

Dr. Bob Nelson, a founding member of Recognition Professionals International, created Employee Appreciation Day and declared it as a national holiday in the United States as a means to market the publication launch of his book, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees.

1001 Ways to Reward Employees book serves as a reminder to managers everywhere of the importance of showing gratitude and recognition to employees when they do good work. Dr. Nelson worked with his publishing company to make the holiday appear prominently on workplace calendars, making Employee Appreciation Day a nationally recognized holiday in the United States.

Today Employee Appreciation Day is recognized as a national holiday across countries and companies worldwide. 

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What is the importance of National Employee Appreciation Day?

Employee Appreciation Day is all about recognizing our hardworking team members and showing them how much we value their contributions to our workplace.

After the craziness of the past couple of years, finding new and creative employee appreciation ideas to foster employee engagement is more critical than ever.

On Employee Appreciation Day, give your team members a heartfelt “thank you” for all they do daily.

Consider great ways to show appreciation and reward the employees for their hard work by handing out small tokens of appreciation like gift cards, lunch vouchers, or branded swag they can take home. Even a simple verbal recognition of their work makes a difference! 

We’ll also want to plan fun activities for everyone to participate in together and take a much-needed break from the everyday grind. Ideas could include trivia games, photo booths, or office talent shows to showcase our teams’ skills and personalities.

Stay tuned for more employee recognition ideas leading up to the big day! Getting creative with how we celebrate Employee Appreciation Day allows us to highlight our incredible company culture while getting the team excited to collaborate. When our team members feel genuinely appreciated, that enthusiasm directly translates into better customer service. It’s a win all around!

Employee Appreciation Day Gift ideas could include:

Branded Hoodie – Best Employee Appreciation Day Gift Idea

Price: $39.10

Unisex Heavy Blend Hoodie

Give your employees a surprise with cozy branded hoodies on National Employee Appreciation Day to increase employee engagement and make them feel rewarded. It’s a way to show your employees you appreciate them while giving them a useful gift.

Custom Travel Mugs for Employee Recognition Day

Price: $27.83

Travel Mug 14oz

Give employees sleek stainless steel travel mugs with your company logo to help your employees stay caffeinated on the go. It’s an employee recognition gift that also enables remote work.

Snacks Basket as Employee Appreciation Gift


Treat your hardworking employees to gift baskets filled with yummy snacks as a tasty way to show you notice and appreciate their efforts. They’ll feel valued and celebrated.

Wireless Charger for the Game Day

Price: $99.99

Ultimate Charger - 20000mAh Power Bank image

Help your employees recharge their phones by giving pad wireless chargers for their desks. They’ll feel rewarded and enabled to work efficiently.

Headphones for Virtual Reality Day

Price: $240

JBL Live Wireless Over-Ear Noise-Canceling Headphones - (Black) image

Let employees immerse themselves in music and podcasts with noise-canceling headphones. It improves the employee experience and shows your gratitude.

Lunch Bags to Thank and Show Your Appreciation

Price: $25.70

Break Time 9 Can Lunch Cooler

Give customized lunch bags so employees can carry tasty meals in style. A daily reminder you appreciate their hard work.

Personalized Workplace Accessories 

Gift your employees useful workplace accessories like-


Price: $20.00

isolved Tab Planner/Journal image

Pamper your team with premium personalized planners featuring their names or inspirational quotes on the covers. Choose from daily, weekly, or monthly layout options based on their preferences. Upgrade with accessories like stylish booklets, divider tabs, bookmarks, and stickers to keep them organized.

Notebooks with Name Engraved  

Price: $38.48

Moleskine® Hard Cover Ruled Medium Notebook

Surprise your creative employees with sleek, branded notebooks they can use for taking notes in meetings, jotting down ideas in stylish fashion, or doodling sketches. Opt for premium textures like faux or genuine leather, smooth linen, or thick cotton paper. Add extra touches like elastic closures, bookmarks, inner pockets, and more.

Pens with Company Logo 

Price: $16.38

Swiss Force® Vigor Metal Pen

Delight detail-oriented employees with high-quality engraved pens personalized with their names, initials or inspirational phrases like “You’ve Got This!” Choose pens crafted from polished wood, metallic brass, or heavyweight resin. Upgrade further with cases to keep their new writing instruments pristine.

Desk Vacuum

Let’s be honest: We’ve all had those days when we needed to eat at our desks. (Okay, maybe every day). Unfortunately, this leads to crumbs, gunk potentially building up, and a messy workspace. This gadget is handy, fun to use, and oh-so-satisfying.

accu vacuum cleaner
accu vacuum cleaner

Spot Touch Toolkit

Price: $43.53

How many times have you lost your keys? How often do you go someplace and wish you didn’t need to touch a button? The Spot Touch tool kit can help you find your keys while also helping you avoid germy spaces. Rather than spending hours on the tremendous key hunt or risk catching a nasty germ, this tool kit will allow you to live your best germ and stress-free life.

tool kit

Diamond Patterned Blanket

Price: $92.37

Who doesn’t love a good blanket to cuddle up in with a movie on a winter night? We know we do, and we’re guessing many of your employees do too. This diamond-patterned blanket is butter-soft, allowing your employees to relax once they get home.

Field & Co.® Cambridge Oversized Sherpa Blanket
An empty red Christmas cup on a cozy blanket

Square Food Container

Price: $42.81

Are you tired of the office fridge filling with mismatched containers that no one looks at ever again? Do you want to incentivize your employees to bring lunch to work? This food container more than fits the bill. Featuring a pressure lock system that stays sealed, this container will become an office favorite.

Eco craft paper tableware. Paper cups, dishes, fast food containers and wooden cutlery
Eco craft paper tableware. Paper cups, dishes, fast food containers and wooden cutlery

Chain Bracelet

People are always up for unique jewelry. This unisex bar chain bracelet is an excellent way to show your employees you care. Available in several colors and easily customized, this bar bracelet will quickly become a favorite accessory for all your employees.

Imitation jewelry, silver bijouterie chain bracelet on white background. White podium.
Imitation jewelry, silver bijouterie chain bracelet on white background. White podium.

Duffel Bag

Price: $125.35

There’s nothing worse than showing up without the right bag, especially during a work conference. This duffel bag will allow your employees to have a high-quality travel experience. And with a bag that will last for years to come.

duffel bag

Coaster Set

Price: $24.98

We don’t know about you, but we’re big on versatility. Far too often, we receive items with only one purpose…and we can never find them when needed. These coasters are an excellent option for those who want versatile, functional pieces. This coaster will be a hit at home and in the office, featuring everything from a butterfly wrench to a nail puller.

Square wooden coaster for cups
Square wooden coaster for cups

Smartphone Holder

Price: 5.94

We all have smartphones, so why not give the gift of a safe talking experience with this smartphone holder? Not only will your employees be safer on the road, but they’ll also have a stylish accessory for their car.

MiniStand : Miniature Phone Stand

Thank You Note

Custom Printed Note

Handwritten thank you notes may be simple gestures, but powerfully convey gratitude and appreciation to each employee for their unique contributions.

Along with the above ideas, give customized gifts that show you pay attention to what your employees care about and need.

Unique Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day in 2024

Employee Appreciation Day is the perfect opportunity to strengthen company culture and ensure your staff feels truly valued. As 2024 approaches, take time to plan meaningful forms of appreciation that are customized to what would most delight your workers.

Goodie Bags with Fun Gifts


Help employees relax after busy days by gifting vibrant goodie bags overflowing with goodies like herbal teas, led desk lamps, comfy slipper socks, aromatic candles, chocolate treats, silly desk toys like mini finger skateboards, mosaic building blocks, and even gaming gift cards. The possibilities are endless!

Gift Cards and Cash Bonuses

Consider giving employees gift cards to popular retail stores, restaurants, coffee shops or entertainment venues. Or surprise them with cash bonuses or extra PTO to show your gratitude for all their efforts. Even small token amounts make a big impression.

Catered Lunches 

Treat your staff to a free catered lunch from a favorite local restaurant on Employee Appreciation Day. Make sure to provide options for various diets and restrictions. Not only is a delicious meal a fantastic perk, but it also gives employees a chance to take a proper break and socialize.

Wellness Gifts

Pamper your hardworking teams with self-care-focused gift baskets filled with items like luxury bath products, mindfulness journaling supplies, yoga mats and equipment, meditation app subscriptions, and more. Wellness-oriented gifts help employees de-stress and recharge.

Restore Yoga Bag and Mat

Handwritten Notes

Take the time to have managers hand-write personalized cards thanking each staff member for the unique contributions and strengths they bring to the table. Handwritten notes convey thoughtfulness and care, making employees feel highly valued as individuals.

Make this Employee Appreciation Day one where your staff truly feels seen, cared for, and inspired to continue giving their all. Follow up throughout the year to maintain their morale and dedication.

Games for Employee Appreciation Day

Employee Appreciation Day is just around the corner! As businesses, we owe much of our success to our hard-working and dedicated employees. So, how do we make this day truly memorable for them? Let’s add some fun, engagement, and memories through games specially curated for Employee Appreciation Day. Here’s a guide to some of the best games to play!

Recognition Roulette

Objective: A chance-based game where every employee gets recognized for their hard work.

How to Play:

  • Write down the names of all employees on separate slips of paper.
  • Put the slips into a bowl.
  • Draw out names one by one.
  • For each name drawn, share a recent accomplishment or positive feedback about that person.
  • Give them a small token of appreciation.

Talent Show

Objective: A platform for employees to showcase their hidden talents.

How to Play:

  • Employees can register in advance.
  • They get a set amount of time to display their talent – be it singing, dancing, magic tricks, or even stand-up comedy.
  • Colleagues can vote for their favorite act, and winners get prizes.

Office Trivia

Objective: A fun way to revisit and celebrate company milestones, achievements, and inside jokes.

How to Play:

  • Create a list of trivia questions related to the company, its history, or its employees.
  • Organize employees into teams.
  • Ask questions and keep scores.
  • The team with the most correct answers wins.

Gratitude Graffiti Wall

Objective: A platform for employees to express their gratitude for their colleagues.

How to Play:

  • Set up a big whiteboard or a poster in a common area.
  • Provide markers.
  • Employees write messages of appreciation for their colleagues.
  • At the end of the day, take a picture and share it with the team.

Escape Room Challenge

Objective: Encouraging teamwork and collaboration among employees.

How to Play:

  • Rent an escape room or set up a DIY escape challenge in the office.
  • Form teams and have them solve puzzles to “escape”.
  • The team that escapes the fastest wins.

Memory Lane

Objective: To reminisce and share stories of the company’s journey.

How to Play:

  • Set up a projector and invite employees to share old photos and videos related to work.
  • Employees can narrate the backstory, making everyone laugh, reminisce, and feel appreciated for the journey.

Appreciation Bingo

Objective: Encouraging employees to appreciate each other.

How to Play:

  • Create bingo cards with different appreciation statements like “Helped with a project”, “Always makes coffee”, or “Gave great feedback”.
  • Employees interact and find colleagues who fit the statements, getting their signatures.
  • The first one to fill the card shouts “Bingo!” and wins.

Employee Appreciation Day Lunch Party Ideas with Snack Treats

Employee Appreciation Day is a wonderful opportunity to show gratitude to the people who drive your company’s success. While there are various ways to express thanks, sharing a meal has always been a universal gesture of gratitude and togetherness. Let’s explore some inspiring lunch ideas to make your employees feel valued and cherished!

Themed Potluck

Description: A potluck is all about community. Employees bring a dish to share, preferably related to a chosen theme.

How to Organize:

  • Decide on a theme (e.g., International Cuisine, Childhood Favorites, Street Food).
  • Create a sign-up sheet where employees can list what they’re bringing to avoid duplicates.
  • Set up a communal space with tables, chairs, and appropriate serving utensils.

Food Truck Fiesta

Description: Bring the vibrant world of street food right to your office doorsteps.

How to Organize:

  • Contact local food trucks and arrange for them to visit your office.
  • Offer a variety of options: tacos, gourmet burgers, Asian fusion, and more.
  • Provide employees with tokens or vouchers to redeem their meals.

Outdoor Picnic

Description: An outdoor event that combines fresh air, sun, and scrumptious food.

How to Organize:

  • Find a local park or an open area.
  • Arrange for picnic baskets filled with sandwiches, salads, fruits, and drinks.
  • Include games like frisbee or badminton to add an element of fun.

Gourmet Buffet

Description: A lavish spread of exquisite dishes that pamper employees.

How to Organize:

  • Hire a local catering service or collaborate with a nearby restaurant.
  • Offer a wide array of choices, from appetizers to desserts.
  • Ensure vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options are available for inclusivity.

DIY Sandwiches or Salad Bars

Description: Let employees customize their lunch, ensuring everyone gets exactly what they crave.

How to Organize:

  • Set up a station with various bread options, fillings, toppings, and dressings.
  • Include diverse ingredients to cater to all dietary preferences.
  • Ensure hygiene by providing gloves and tongs for serving.

Around-the-World Luncheon

Description: Celebrate the diverse cultures represented in your workforce.

How to Organize:

  • Choose different cuisines from around the world.
  • Set up separate stations for each cuisine (e.g., Italian, Indian, Japanese).
  • Consider hiring chefs who specialize in these cuisines for authenticity.

Local Delights

Description: Support local businesses by sourcing your lunch from popular local eateries.

How to Organize:

  • Research top-rated local restaurants or cafes.
  • Order a selection of their signature dishes.
  • This not only appreciates employees but also supports the local economy.

DIY Pizza Party

Description: Who doesn’t love pizza? Especially when you can choose your toppings!

How to Organize:

  • Order plain pizza bases from a local pizzeria.
  • Provide a spread of toppings: vegetables, meats, cheeses, and sauces.
  • Employees design their pizzas, which are then baked to perfection.
Playful employees having fun in the office
Playful employees having fun in the office

Employee Appreciation Day Activities: Making Every Team Member Feel Valued

Employee Appreciation Day is more than just a date on the calendar; it’s a golden opportunity to show your team members that their dedication, hard work, and efforts don’t go unnoticed. While a simple ‘thank you’ can make a difference, curating activities that bring a team closer can leave an indelible mark. Let’s dive into some activities that can make this day unforgettable!

Awards Ceremony

Description: Celebrate achievements big and small with a mock awards ceremony.

How to Organize:

  • Categories can range from ‘Best Problem Solver’ to ‘Most Creative Coffee Breaker’.
  • Ensure awards highlight both professional achievements and personal quirks.
  • Hand out fun trophies or certificates.

Professional Workshops

Description: Gift knowledge by organizing workshops or masterclasses that help employees in their professional journey.

How to Organize:

  • Collaborate with industry professionals or motivational speakers.
  • Choose topics like leadership, modern work tools, or stress management.
  • Provide resources or toolkits post-workshop.

Wellness Retreat

Description: Focus on employee well-being with a day of relaxation and rejuvenation.

How to Organize:

  • Host yoga sessions, meditation classes, or massage therapy.
  • Provide healthy snacks and drinks.
  • Create a serene environment with soothing music and scents.

Skill-Share Sessions

Description: Encourage employees to teach and learn from each other.

How to Organize:

  • Employees can sign up to teach a skill or share knowledge—be it related to work or personal hobbies.
  • Organize the day into multiple short sessions.
  • Foster a fun environment of growth and camaraderie.

Team Building Adventures

Description: Step out of the office and into an adventure that brings everyone closer.

How to Organize:

  • Consider activities like ziplining, paintball, or rafting.
  • Ensure safety guidelines are followed.
  • Debrief at the end to discuss team dynamics and learnings.

Personal Growth Fund

Description: Empower employees to invest in their growth.

How to Organize:

  • Allot a specific budget for each employee to be used for courses, books, or workshops.
  • Offer suggestions but allow employees to choose where they want to invest.
  • Share learnings or experiences in a team meeting.

DIY Craft Corner

Description: Unleash creativity and offer a break from routine with DIY crafts.

How to Organize:

  • Set up stations with materials for activities like painting, pottery, or jewelry making.
  • Provide guides or instructors for assistance.
  • Allow employees to keep their creations as mementos.

Gratitude Wall

Description: Create a space where employees can write appreciative notes to one another.

How to Organize:

  • Provide sticky notes, pens, and a designated wall or board.
  • Encourage everyone to write at least one note.
  • At day’s end, allow employees to take their notes as keepsakes.

Volunteering Together

Description: Bond while giving back to the community.

How to Organize:

  • Partner with local NGOs or community centers.
  • Organize group activities, such as cleaning a park, reading to children, or serving at a soup kitchen.
  • Reflect on the experience and its impact during a team session.

Making Employee Appreciation Day Unforgettable with SwagMagic

After reading about all these thoughtful employee appreciation ideas, you’re probably feeling inspired to step up your recognition game in 2024, seriously. But pulling off these memorable gestures can be daunting without the right partner.

That’s where SwagMagic, a perfect employee recognition platform, comes in.

With SwagMagic’s end-to-end branded merchandise platform, you make employee appreciation easy and amazing. Effortlessly create customized swag stores, ship tailored swag kits, order bulk promos, and more with our dedicated support.

SwagMagic’s global catalog of thousands of items, simple digital workflows, managed logistics, and branding expertise empowers you to show employees you care in a genuinely standout way.

So why wait? Book a quick intro call with SwagMagic now to discuss your employee recognition goals for 2024 and unlock world-class swag support. It takes just 15 minutes to change the employee appreciation game forever.

Make This Your Best Year Yet for Valuing Employees

As we move deeper into 2024, employee appreciation grows more crucial for attracting and retaining top talent in the modern workforce. But thankfully, brands like SwagMagic make it simpler than ever to drive recognition through branded merchandising and gifting.

Don’t let another Employee Appreciation Day go to waste—partner with the custom swag experts at SwagMagic to create show-stopping, on-brand employee experiences. Your people and culture will thrive for it!

How can we help you set up a branded swag store?

No matter how hard you try, you’ll probably not please all your employees with your gifts for Employee Appreciation Day.

Rather than worrying about getting something everyone likes, consider setting up your own SwagMagic store.

You’ll be able to set spending limits to allow your employees to pick out their favorite items while staying within budget. Learn more here.

Employees playing table soccer indoor game in the office during break time

Best Employee Recognition Programs for Employee Appreciation Day 2024

A few top employee recognition programs that boost employee morale and make staff feel valued are:

Employee of the Month Awards

For National Employee Appreciation Day 2024, integrating “Employee of the Month” awards with custom swag is a creative and impactful way to honor outstanding employees. This approach acknowledges individual excellence and contributes to a positive workplace culture where efforts are visibly rewarded. Custom swag, personalized to each recipient, adds a unique touch to the recognition, making it more memorable and valued.

Peer-to-Peer Recognition Programs

Implement a system where employees can recognize and appreciate their colleagues’ contributions. This fosters a culture of gratitude and respect within the team and can be facilitated through platforms that allow posting kudos or sending digital tokens of appreciation.

Personalized Awards and Acknowledgements

Create personalized awards or acknowledgments that cater to individual achievements and milestones. This could include customized trophies, certificates, or public recognition in company meetings or newsletters highlighting specific accomplishments.

Professional Development Opportunities

Offer opportunities for professional growth as a form of recognition. This could be through paid training programs, attending industry conferences, or providing resources for further education. It shows investment in the employees’ future and career development.

Wellness and Work-Life Balance Initiatives

Recognize the importance of employee well-being by introducing wellness programs or work-life balance initiatives. This could include offering gym memberships, flexible working hours, mental health days, or wellness workshops, acknowledging employee health is a priority.

Performance Bonuses and Incentives

Provide financial incentives such as performance bonuses, gift cards, or extra paid time off. These tangible rewards can effectively acknowledge hard work and success and serve as a direct appreciation for employees’ contributions to the company’s goals.

These programs are designed to recognize and appreciate employees on a specific day and embed a culture of recognition and appreciation throughout the year.

Best Employee Recognition Platform for Employee Appreciation Day 2024

Platforms like

Team Builds

This platform facilitates collaborative games, events, and volunteering activities to unite employee groups and strengthen bonds.


We let every SnackMagic recipient build their own stash from a menu of 500+ unique snacks and beverages worldwide. Or choose from a range of themed medleys curated by our in-the-know foodies.


Pop-up customized on-site company swag shops loaded with apparel, gadgets, experiences and more that employees can choose from.


End-to-end branded merchandising platform for firms to easily gift customized swag kits, tailored care packages, engraved drinkware, and posh apparel.

These are the best recognition platforms to celebrate National Employee Appreciation Day 2024 because they enable leaders and peers to give rewards and shoutouts to spread appreciation widely.

An ad for building a branded swag store. A Teambuilds swag store is seen on a laptop.

Benefits and Reasons to Celebrate National Employee Appreciation Day 2024

Celebrating National Employee Appreciation Day in 2024 can have numerous positive impacts. Here are some key reasons to mark this occasion:

Recognition of Hard Work

It’s an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate employees’ hard work and dedication. Recognizing their efforts can boost morale and show that their contributions are valued.

Enhancing Company Culture

Celebrating this day helps in fostering a positive and inclusive company culture. It demonstrates that the organization cares about its employees’ well-being and job satisfaction.

Increasing Employee Motivation

Recognition can be a powerful motivator. Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day can increase staff motivation, encouraging them to maintain or improve their performance.

Improving Employee Retention

Showing appreciation can improve employee engagement and retention rates. Employees are likelier to stay with a company that acknowledges their contributions and values their presence.

Boosting Team Spirit

This celebration can enhance team spirit and camaraderie among employees. It’s an opportunity for team-building activities and strengthening interpersonal relationships within the workplace.

Enhancing Employer Brand

Celebrating Employee Appreciation Day positively impacts the company’s brand. It shows current and potential employees that the company is a great workplace.

Encouraging Professional Growth

Acknowledging employees’ efforts can encourage them to pursue further professional development and growth within the company.

Stress Reduction and Mental Health Benefits

Taking a day to celebrate can provide a break from the usual work routine, helping to reduce stress and promote mental well-being among employees.

Inspiring Creativity and Innovation

A positive and appreciative work environment can inspire employees to be more creative and innovative.

Building a Sense of Belonging

Celebrating together helps build a sense of belonging and community within the workplace, making employees feel more connected and engaged with their organization.

These reasons highlight the importance of National Employee Appreciation Day as more than just a symbolic gesture but as a strategic approach to nurturing a productive, positive, and engaging work environment.

It is a dedicated day focused on showing employees sincere appreciation and making them feel their hard work matters. Appreciated employees have higher satisfaction and productivity. It’s also crucial for company culture and retention.

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