Gift ideas for federal employees

by Anne from Unique Gifter | Last Updated: May 26, 2021

Federal employees vary a lot so I’ve put together these gift ideas that most government workers will enjoy. Some would make great birthday gifts from family or friends, and others might be better given for retirement.

There’s even a few that you could drop off to your local politicians, legislators, civil servants, and other federal staff. 

Note from Gov Worker: I’m super happy to feature this guest post from my friend Anne. Anne loves finding the perfect gift idea that’s on budget. She has been writing about gift giving and personal finance online since 2012, as owner of UniqueGifter.com. Her favorite beverage is champagne and she loves figure skating, even if it’s harder now that she’s not 20! This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Our Top Gift Ideas for Federal Employees

There are rules around gifting to federal employees, so keep that in mind when choosing your gift. If it’s a completely personal gift this shouldn’t be a problem. However, it is always a good idea to study the rules. Relevant rules are given in Title 5 Code of Federal Regulations (5CFR.2635.201 for gifts from outside sources and 5CFR.2635.301 for gifts between employees)

For those gifting occasions when the federal employee isn’t your friend, though, I’ve also included a few options that are under the $20 rule.

Barnett’s Biscotti Cookies Gift Basket

You almost never can go wrong with food when you’re not sure what to give. You could give one to the office for everyone to share or send it over to a friend or family member. For a little extra spice include a gift card to the favourite coffee shop or some gourmet coffee too.

Fun Card Games

These are great for two reasons. First of all, it’s a great excuse to have fun with the family or your friend group. Second, if the federal worker travels, having some games are great for bringing along and connecting with people at their destination.

Scented Candles

Gifting to someone with a tough job? You can’t make it easier, but a candle burning in the evening does help with relaxation. Grab a nice one that smells like lavender or sage. Or include it as part of a larger gift! 

Touchscreen Gloves

Taking on and off your gloves to use your phone is super annoying no matter who you are. Bernie Sanders proved that people are paying attention to your handwear – so get them some nice driving gloves that also work with touchscreens.

Ring Light

So many more employees have the option to work from home, at least sometimes, thanks to COVID. Even if they do go back to the office though, Zoom calls are probably going to keep bringing people together. Having great lighting makes you look a lot more professional on video. 

Indoor Herb Garden Seed Starter Kit

I think this is a really unique gift, but one that will be appreciated. It comes with everything you need to grow four different herbal teas. Even if it’s not the start of a new hobby at least they’ll have some homemade tea to enjoy at the end.

Destinations of a Lifetime

I love this for a retirement gift, but you could give it to any avid traveller. There’s actually quite a few of these National Geographic travel books, so if you know the person better choose one that’s more suited to their lifestyle. 

Desk Accessories

These are so fun to give because you can do a lot with a small budget. Give them something fun that reflects their personality. It’s not just a practical gift idea, it’s a chance for them to show who they are to coworkers too!

Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings Day-to-Day Calendar

I love joke gifts. This one is fun (and fun-ny), but also useful too. They’ll get a daily calendar, but also “tips” to be smarter in meetings like “convert percentages into fractions to impress them with your quick math skills” and “draw a venn diagram”. 

Popcorn and Seasoning Kit

This would be a really nice gift idea for federal employees and their families. You get three different varieties of popcorn and five different seasonings that should last a while. It’s nice enough to gift on its own, but a gift card for a digital rental wouldn’t be a bad addition too.

Clever Fox Password Book With Tabs

This gift isn’t for everyone but for some people it could be life changing. Especially older folks or those who don’t store passwords in their browser. I like that it encourages you to add a password hint rather than the actual password for added security.

Tote Bag

Most people appreciate tote bags, especially now that most grocery stores have switched to reusable bags. This one has “The Office” on it (which many government and federal employees might relate to) but there are so many designs out there. Fun tip: You can also use a tote bag instead of gift wrap! 

Reusable Water Bottle

Whether it’s on the road, sitting at their desk, or riding off into the retirement sunset federal employees need to stay hydrated. Most people don’t prioritize practical stuff like this so replacing an outdated or low quality water bottle will probably be a welcomed gift idea. 

Candescent Stress Balls

Stress happens. It seems to happen a lot more for federal employees, though. Stress balls are also nice to play with to keep focus or when you want to be moving but are stuck seated. I like this set because they’re well designed, inspirational, and come in a package that’s perfect for gifting. 

Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker

Another one that’s great for anyone, including retirees. Bluetooth speakers vary in price and you can really go big depending on your budget. I personally prefer high quality, waterproof speakers so there’s no worries about damaging them in the rain, at the beach, or in case of spills.

Funny Mug

I have never gone wrong giving someone a mug that I think they’ll love. Meetings that could have been emails are an issue that plagues almost every workplace, but federal employees, who already have so much to do, don’t need their time wasted at work.

Trendy Backpacks

This one is made for laptops which is great for workers to carry around their computer, charger, and other important documents. But backpacks are also great for people who travel for work or as a retirement gift idea for former federal employees ready to travel.

Office Supplies

Except not the boring kind. If they’re going to be at work anyway you might as well try and make things more fun. Little gifts like this record player tape dispenser might not be life changing, but they sure will brighten up their day.

Fun Notepad

There’s a few options for these notepads but some are less work appropriate than others. Little gifts like this are fun to give “just because”, as part of a bigger gift, or as a stocking stuffer idea for hard to shop for federal employees.

Books From Other Federal Employees

Depending on their field this can be a pretty broad category, but there’s so many good books out there! If you’re not sure what to get, go with an interesting and well reviewed book like this one from a former FBI hostage negotiator. 

Still Need Gift Ideas for Federal Employees?

Government employees do important jobs and it’s nice to celebrate them every now and then. If you’re still looking for inspiration, see if there’s anything that could make their lives better or help them relax when they’re at home.

Other great gift ideas for federal employees include gift certificates for restaurants or activities that they can use whenever works for them, food and relaxation gifts, or even just bringing them a cup of coffee.