Having endured a year chock-full of challenges and controversies—from the pandemic to the presidential election, to transitioning to working and learning from home—employees, colleagues and clients will no doubt be grateful to receive a useful, comforting, warm-hearted gift of thanks from their employer, coworker, customer or vendor.

What’s “in” for gifts this year? According to Deloitte’s 2020 holiday retail survey, “Reimagining Traditions,” now in its 35th year, consumers showed an interest in apparel, food-related gifts, books, jewelry, games and décor. What they don’t want is to be forgotten. Twenty-six percent said not receiving a gift, is the worst gift of all. PPB Newslink’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide provides these ideas that will bring a smile to recipients’ faces by appealing to their senses.

A Little Decor Goes A Long Way

With more people tuning into work from their kitchen tables, living rooms and makeshift workstations, and with cooler, grayer days ahead, offering a bit of workplace inspiration can help keep spirits high, while offering some stress relief during the day.

A 2020 study by University of Hyogo researchers in Awaji, Japan, found that keeping a small plant in view of one’s workstation can significantly boost employees’ mental state. During stressful times, researchers found that workers who placed the plants next to their computers experienced some relief when glancing at the plant. These eco-friendly succulent gift boxes are hand-planted “with love” by Lula’s Garden in Los Angeles, and employers can customize the entire gift, selecting from six garden options and four customization options. Best of all, succulents are low maintenance—they only need to be watered every seven to 10 days—and they also have a giveback component: the supplier is a supporter of water.org, and each garden sold provides six months of safe water to a person in the developing world.

Employers and partners can incorporate a do-it-yourself planting experience with the Colorful Planter Kit from Fields Manufacturing. Choose from a selection of 17 seeds—cosmos, forget-me-not, marigolds, money plant, sunflower, zinnia, basil, chives, cilantro, cucumber, dill, early boy tomato, jalapeno pepper, mint, oregano, parsley or wheatgrass—and five vibrant pot colors, (gold, green, pink, purple and shown in orange). The pack includes a soil disk for easy planting, and the plastic pot’s lid also doubles as a saucer.

In addition to greenery, employers can gift workers with something to provide treasured memories. The Magnet Group’s Dual Position Frame features a clock and a four-by-six-inch picture frame. Recipients can insert their favorite photo, and keep track of the time via a digital display, which showcases the alarm, date, day and temperature. The frame features a swivel movement, so recipients can reposition it to display both vertically and horizontally.

Sweet Treats and Scrumptious Snacks

Let’s face it: life is simply sweeter with chocolate (and sugar). And according to CNN Business, a lot of consumers have been leaning on satisfying delights as a pick-me-up during the pandemic. During the 17-week period ending June 27, 2020, chocolate sales increased 6.3 percent from this time last year, and in April 2020, snack food sales rose eight percent.

Employers can send workers a special treat to keep their spirits high and their taste buds happy, with a unique branding display that’s a sure conversation-starter. The 4-Piece Ensemble from More Than Chocolate, Inc. features four pieces of decadent, kosher Belgian chocolate, which can be wrapped in a sleeve or gift box with a custom-printed band or full-size sleeve.

Gourmet popcorn takes an afternoon snack or family movie marathon to the next level. As a fun add-on to employee gifts this year—and something they can snack on during Zoom conferences and workshops—Epic Popcorn’s Holiday Box brings three freshly made gourmet popcorn flavors to recipients’ doorsteps with a personalized greeting card and handwritten message and free shipping. Flavors include the Epic Holiday Mix, a blend of white cheddar and buttery caramel popcorn; Epic Reindeer Chow, a mix of Epic White Chocolate popcorn, candy-coated chocolate and salt pretzels; and Epic Holiday Trail Mix, a remix on the snack food classic of Cheddar Cheese and Epic Caramel popcorn, pretzels, crispy corn pillows and candy-coated chocolate.

Just because people are home doesn’t mean there’s no time (or call) for celebration. Designed for on-the-go and travel, but perfect for virtual conferences, this kit brings the office party indoors and home with the Cocktail Party For One from Gemline, available in three options: old-fashion, gin and tonic and Moscow mule. Housed in the Avery pouch (available in black for the old-fashioned, natural for the gin and tonic, and both for the Moscow mule) is a snack food mix and a TSA-compliant W&P cocktail kit, each containing the essentials to craft two top-shelf drinks—just add the spirits.

Ideas That Wear Well

With so many people dressing down these days, employers and consumer brands can make an unexpected splash by providing an eye-catching accessory meant for dressing up. Choose from endless prints and colors to design a one-of-a-kind accessory to market your brand, available in various styles, including neckties, bow ties and hair scarves, as well as face masks and neck gaiters from Knotty Tie Co. All products are handmade in the supplier’s Denver, Colorado, facility, which hires, trains and supports the refugee community. Companies and brands can even take it a step further by creating a themed, fun, virtual event, encouraging them to wear their new accessory with a favorite old t-shirt.

The Blue Generation Adult Triblend Contrast Zip Front Hoodie is an easy-wear option that all employees can drape over their shoulders during the day, or quickly throw on before a team meeting. With the uptick in lounge wear, it’s also a trusty go-to for brands to sell or distribute to end users. Available in six colors, shown in royal tri-blend zip, this heathered hoodie is made from a soft blend of 50-percent polyester, 38-percent cotton and 12-percent rayon, and has a modern fit. To boot, it’s also wrinkle-resistant. Available in unisex, XS-4XL.

Whether they’re sitting at their desk or lounging on a Saturday night, recipients will appreciate a comfy, lush blanket. The Logomark, Inc. St. Cloud Two-Tone Frosted Sherpa Blanket is made from 100-percent polyester, is machine-washable and it’s large—50 inches by 60 inches—and designed to feel like a cloud.

The Smell of Freshness, Citrus, Pumpkin Spice—Or Whatever You’d Like

Studies have shown that certain aromas can actually boost mood. When at home or in the workplace, there’s certainly moments when the gentle scent of vanilla or soothing aroma of lavender offers a sense of calmness during a hectic day, or even help with focus.

There’s nothing like an exquisitely crafted candle—and consumers love them. According to the National Candle Association, Americans spend approximately $3.14 billion on candles each year. The 12-ounce Mason Jar with Lid from Bath Promotions is a soy candle housed in a vintage mason jar, made from 30-percent recycled glass, with a gold lid and finished with a raffia tie for a rustic, homey touch. The hand-poured candle, which is scented using fragrance oils, is made with clean-burning, natural soy wax that can be PMS color-matched to perfectly reflect branding, and burns for a minimum of 80 hours.

The cutest of sensory experiences, these aromatic bears from IMAGEN Promo are perfect for gifting end users or employees who have young children or for those in the health-care industry. The bears come fitted with a t-shirt or bandana, and are scented with one of four scents: vanilla, which can elevate mood and illicit feelings of relaxation; jasmine, which can inspire alertness and ward away negative thoughts; cinnamon, which can boost brain power and thinking; and lavender, which relaxes the body and mind.

The Sounds Of Calm, Rock ‘n Roll And Everything In Between

Whether working at a desk or in the field, a majority of workers (56 percent) wear headphones during their workday, according to a 2018 study by Cloud Cover Music of more than 1,000 American employers and employees on the use of headphones at work. Eight in 10 employees also said they felt listening to music improved their productivity at work, and 66 percent felt it improved their productivity in general. Whatever the reason for tuning into music or podcasts—nearly half (46 percent) said they wore headphones to avoid speaking with colleagues and 30 percent said they use headphones for noise cancellation—headphones are not only a well-received gift, but one that’ll get lots of use.

The Air-Buds Pro from KTI Networks, available in white, can be paired with any phone type via Bluetooth, so recipients can listen to music, answer phone calls, participate in Zoom meetings and more. The ear buds are housed in a charging case and come with a silicone carrying case, a carabiner clip and an ear bud leash. Customize the case by printing a logo on the front or back (or both).

For workers who spend much of their day on phone calls and in conferences—and who may also like to listen to tunes during their “free” moments—the Jabra Evolve 20 UC Stereo Wired Headset from Hirsch Gift, Inc. will make their workday phone calls easier. With passive noise cancellation to eliminate background noise, the black headphones allow wearers to adjust the volume, mute and answer or end calls directly from the control unit, and have foam heat-away ear cushions for all-day comfort.