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The dos and don'ts of corporate gift giving this holiday season

Nov 15, 2018
By Orla Brosnan

If you are wondering whether or not you should give corporate gifts this Christmas: yes, you should, in my opinion. The gifts should always be in line with your organisation’s values and standards. The trick is to balance thoughtfulness and appropriateness while keeping in mind that what you give directly reflects your judgement and professionalism. Here are some tips for giving corporate gifts that will hopefully go some way to strike that balance.

Personalise the gift

Personalised gifts make a lasting impression. Rather than being treated as merely a figure from a database, personalised corporate gifting is about valuing the person’s individuality. Therefore, these types of gifts help nurture business relations and are cherished. A simple measure like having personalised messages and images printed on the gifts can go a long way in creating an emotional aura around the gift. If you show that you took extra time to tailor the gift to the recipient, then they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Never compromise on quality

No matter what the budget, the quality of the gift should be of a high standard. It will be a reflection of your judgement and brand. 

Don’t be cheap. Consider how much you might routinely spend taking someone out for a nice meal. That meal might be forgotten by the next morning. Yet, when it comes to gifts, businesses routinely try to figure out ways to reduce their gift spend. If everything in your business is to a high quality, don’t be a cheap skate when it comes to showing your appreciation to the people who keep you in business. Even if it’s a handwritten note saying thank you for your support throughout the year, make sure it’s on nice card stock and written in neat handwriting.

Everything in moderation

If you have a great relationship with a client, you might be tempted to go overboard during the festive season. Don’t. You have to be mindful of the policies of the company where the gift will be received, and what your own company policies are in relation to giving and receiving gifts and the limits that have been applied. You should be well-informed on this issue before giving gifts in order to avoid an unpleasant situation. 

Christmas card for the boss

Believe it or not, a gift isn’t always appropriate. Many people say that they don’t ever recommend that anyone should give a gift to their boss. It’s not expected, and it actually creates an awkward situation.

Appreciate hobbies

A sports or hobby related gift shows that you recognise something the recipient is passionate about outside of work. You can give the gift of licensed apparel or, if you know the sport but not the team the person supports, something more generic related to the sport or hobby itself.

Don’t get too personal

When giving a gift to clients, staff or colleagues, there's a fine line between choosing something they will appreciate compared to something too personal. Stay away from perfume/cologne and clothes.

Don’t make it promotional

Many companies send clients gifts that contain their own name and logo. That’s not a gift. It’s a marketing piece. Don’t gift it.

Don’t limit gift giving to just Christmas

It's natural to think of sending a gift around Christmas, but you may want to reconsider. The Christmas season is ironically the least effective time to give a gift. Be grateful and thankful year round. Instead, wait until an unexpected time to give something memorable.

Service providers 

Service providers comprise a large group of associates, ranging from cleaners, consultants, to window cleaners and post people. For gifts of this nature, small items, cash or gift cards, depending on the provided type of service, is the appropriate way to go.

Plan a budget

Deciding on a budget for gift-giving occasions throughout the year will largely have to do with the company’s finances. Even if a small amount can be spent on gifts, a small token or just a handwritten card will suffice to let people know that they are important to your company. 

Orla Brosnan is the CEO and Founder of the Etiquette School of Ireland.