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Extension Operations

Ohio State University Extension


Holiday Staff Appreciation Event Guidance

Nov. 15, 2023

OSU Extension:

We have a max budget of $60/employee, and that maximum should take into consideration other staff appreciation events individual units may have had this year. This amount is not provided by the college, but rather the max allowable to spend from local sources. It is the recommendation of Extension Operations that we limit this to event/meal costs only and do not provide gifts to employees due to the taxable reporting requirements of doing so. [Jesse Buxton]


Departments/units are permitted to schedule holiday events in addition to the college-wide gatherings. Events must adhere to the University Expenditure Policy and other related policies. Current expenditure policy can be viewed here: OSU Expenditure Policy and Employee Recognition Guidance can be found here: Employee Appreciation Guidance

Below are college guiding principles for planning holiday events or gifts. Please seek assistance or clarification from department CCM or CFAES Service Center related to the applicable University policy requirements.

Event Costs:

  • The University allows an annual limit of $75/per person for employee recognition and appreciation.
  • The annual $75 limit applies collectively to all recognition and appreciation expenses coordinated by both college and department/unit levels.
  • If a department/unit is planning multiple employee recognition and appreciation events throughout the year, then holiday event expenditures may need minimized to stay within the collective annual $75/per person limit.
  • The college-wide open houses and giveaway will consume approximately $15/per person of the University’s annual $75 allowance.
  • Department/unit per person costs must be all-inclusive of both direct and ancillary event costs (e.g. food & beverage, paper products, decorations – see the employee appreciation guidance).
  • Leaders of departments/units with various locations should apply reasonable judgment to determine if multiple holiday events are warranted and necessary. If so, then each event should be comparable in planning and costs.

Locations/Times: It’s recommended departments/units schedule holiday events in college-owned facilities/buildings, and, during normal business hours.

Alcohol: No alcohol is permitted to be purchased with University funds. Further, alcohol may not be made available for employee consumption during normal University business hours.

Attendees: Attendees should only include employees.

Holiday Event OR Gift: Departments/units should not provide both a holiday event and gift to employees. Only one option is permitted (event or gift). Care needs taken whenever giving gifts to employees due to IRS tax implications.

Employee Mileage to Events: Employee attendance at holiday events is optional. Thus, mileage reimbursement is not to be requested. This includes employees who may be teleworking, or those traveling to the event’s location.

Telework Environment: For those in a telework environment it is acceptable to send employees small dollar ($20 Per person or less) consumable gifts such as cookies, fruit, cheese/crackers, etc. Please do not send gift cards to employees or non-cash items such as apparel. Also, do not have food delivered to homes except for those items listed herein. There may be IRS tax implications with gifts. Please seek guidance from department CCM.

Please share this guidance as appropriate and feel free to contact me or Terry Snoddy with questions." [Lori Bowman]