Embarrassment-Proof Rules for Business Gift Giving

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bowsIt’s a festive time of year and celebrations are in full swing. You may be on your way to an office party or a holiday networking event. Or maybe you send your clients holiday gifts every year. During the holidays, giving clients and colleagues gifts can be a great way to show your appreciation and celebrate a successful year.

But gift giving is not an anything-goes activity, especially in the professional world. If you give an inappropriate or offensive gift, even inadvertently, you could create an uncomfortable situation, hurt your relationship and even lose business in the process.

Keep these rules in mind if you want to avoid embarrassment and prevent losing any potential business opportunities as you embark on your holiday gift giving.

Heed Company Policies

Some companies have rules about the types of gifts that can be accepted or even if gifts are allowed at all. Make sure you’re aware of your clients’ policies that may impact what you can give, and respect the rules.

Match the Relationship

You’ll want to make sure your gifts correlate to each individual relationship, in terms of amount of business you do for the client, type of work and how long you’ve known them. You may not give all of your clients equal gifts, but instead aim for gifts that are relevant to the relationship you have.

Give It to the Right Person

If you work with more than one person at an organization, make sure your gift is going to the decision maker who hired you. If this isn’t the person you work closest with, consider sending multiple small gifts or a “sharable” gift that everyone can enjoy (i.e., a gift basket addressed to the entire team).

Stick to a Budget

Going over the top with a client gift can make the recipient very uncomfortable. Create and stick to a budget that works for you and is appropriate. And don’t feel like you have to match past years or the cost of a gift you may have received from a client.

Keep It Safe

There are so many different directions you can go when selecting client gifts. While you want your gifts to be thoughtful and meaningful to the recipient, avoid going too personal. In general, you want your client gifts to be appreciated, but somewhat generic to ensure you avoid crossing any boundaries. Some safe gift ideas include:

  • Food
  • Promotional items
  • Flowers
  • Desk accessories
  • Gift certificates

You can also give a charitable donation in your clients’ names for the holiday season. This is a great way to honor the client while giving back to a worthy cause.

So ready to start wrapping? Make sure your gift is thoughtful and appropriate, then go for it. Happy gift giving!

Image credit: foxumon

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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