Holiday Gift Card Giving Expected to be Another Favorite in 2023

It's the most wonderful time of the year for holiday gifts, but not if you're Clark Griswold.

Remember that iconic scene from “Christmas Vacation” where Clark Griswold eagerly anticipates his end-of-year bonus? His boss Frank Shirley can’t remember his name, but surely, he will remember his holiday employee gift. His excitement reaches its peak, only to plummet as he receives a Jelly of the Month gift certificate instead. As he sips on eggnog and pops Tylenol to manage his frustration, Clark faces the disheartening reality that his year of hard work culminated in a gift that fell woefully short of his expectations and worth. 


That’s why most companies today opt to give out employee holiday gifts during the season.

Balancing Holiday Gifts with Employee Preference

Walking the tightrope of employee recognition demands an understanding of the balance between appreciation and equity. The challenge lies in appreciating employees’ unique contributions while ensuring that the rewards given reflect the scope of their achievements.  Holiday reward programs are often grounded in tradition-which are both nostalgic and important to the organization’s history.

There are so many different holiday gift options to be considered when balancing personal with attractive rewards.  There are perhaps some gelatin enthusiasts who’d love Jelly of the Month and find the gift relevant and meaningful. Most likely prefer the value to use a reward or gift card to help with the season’s expenses. 

While jelly can be personal, it risks lack of appeal to the greater audience. 

A gift card, on the other hand, may have historically felt as impersonal as cash in an envelope from an estranged uncle. However, it seems tides have turned, with recipients favoring flexibility. In fact, according to Capital One Shopping gift card research, “90% of people consider physical gift cards an appropriate item to gift.” In another study, less than half of professionals said they were pleased with the holiday gifts they receive from their employers, with 42% responding that they’ve received a gift they didn’t like. When given the choice, employees resoundingly express a desire for flexible gift cards as their reward because it gives them a valuable choice to select a meaningful gift. In the aforementioned study, 62% of professionals favored gift cards as a desired gift. More and more, companies are opting for flexible rewards to help employees choose their own adventure like retail gift cards and prepaid cards.


As of 2021, open loop prepaid debit cards account for 73% of all rewards and incentives distributed by companies.

holiday employee reward card designs

Celebrate and appreciate individual interests and tastes.

Giving employees freedom to allocate their holiday gifts according to their needs acknowledges that their individualized interests, preferences, and well-being matters. It’s a nod to the financial responsibilities the holiday season brings and showcases your organization’s understanding of its holistic needs and individual interests! 

So, as we revisit that memorable scene with Clark Griswold, we’re reminded that while recognition is the heart of the matter, rewards substantiate the sentiment.  By embracing this balance organizations can transform their recognition efforts into a culture of appreciation that leaves their employees feeling truly valued and to borrow a phrase from Cousin Eddie, “That’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.”

This is a continuation in our series with Marlene Johnson, Recognition Client Relationship Manager. See her previous post at Gratitude as a Workplace Strategy

Appreciating and engaging your employees just got easier. With dashReward,  a flexible prepaid Visa card, you get to give more than just a standard gift. dashReward cards are a gateway for your employees to choose the perfect gift – whether it’s enjoying a holiday feast, shopping at their favorite store, or indulging in a vacation, their options are limitless.