As a small business owner for over 30 years, I always strived to show appreciation for a job well done and to let the staff know they were appreciated. There were so many things I have done, both high budget items as well as low budget items. How you handle it is also based on the size of the company and how close you are to the employees.
Although most everyone prefers money for their gift, there are other things that have worked as well when times were lean. Below is one idea that worked really well in my office.
Be a part of a “Big Little” holiday party. A lot of upscale facilities have large holiday parties where you can buy a table and be a part of it. This saves both time and money. And each time we participated it was an “over the top” party that as a small business I could not afford to put together myself. There was a band or DJ for dancing, a full buffet opens most of the evening including multiple food stations and close to 100 items to pick from. There were free raffles for DVD players, flat screen TVs and much more. The decorations were top notch. We requested our staff bring a guest. I took pictures throughout the evening and was sure everyone received a small album of the event and we kept one in the office.