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Business Gift-Giving Etiquette

Updated on March 7, 2014

Corporate Gift Considerations

Corporate gift giving requires a different etiquette than personal gift giving does. What may seem perfectly appropriate under one circumstance may not be acceptable in the other. Consider the following factors before purchasing or sending any corporate gift.

Above all, use common sense. Your business reputation is on the line. When in doubt send only the very best you can afford. Never send liquor or cigars or other items that the recipient might personally have an objection to. Using your best judgment can make your gift a real success and build relationships.


Follow Company Policy

Not every company allows their employees the luxury of accepting gifts. Check with the company’s secretary or human resources department before sending anything over. This will avoid possible embarrassment on your part if the recipient is required to turn your gift down. Better safe than sorry.

And be sure to double check your own company's policy for gift-giving as well. They may have limits on the amount you can spend per gift.


Avoid The Appearance of Impropriety

Think about your relationship to the recipient. Are you long-time business colleagues? Is this a new business relationship? Are you hoping to gain the client’s business? Never send a gift in the hopes of favorably influencing a business decision. Even with the best of intentions, this could be construed as unethical business practice and you may end up losing the deal. When in doubt, send a formal, handwritten note on excellent card stock instead.


Choose Tasteful Gifts

 Choose a gift that’s tasteful and understated. Sending any item with your logo boldly emblazoned in blaring letters across it will look cheap. Yes, you want your logo out there and you want your client to remember you. But sending a garish gift with little value will only make your gift seem cheap. Instead, select a high-quality item that’s of use. A digital photo frame or a pewter desk clock are wise choices. Then, have your logo engraved in a small font along with a message. “Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons, 2010. The Acme Company” is often enough. You’ve gotten your name in front of the client, wished them a sincere greeting, and also given them something they’ll display on their desk.


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Consider The Entire Team

Consider the whole team before sending a gift. Was there a pool of designers or engineers who backed up the boss and made your year profitable? Did you work with a group of particularly helpful secretaries and account executives? Send a gift everyone can partake in like an upscale fruit basket from All About Gifts & Baskets or Harry & David or even a fresh baked cookie gift from a local or online bakery.


Consider The Delivery Timing

When you send your gift is also as important as what you send. Everyone will be rushing to get their corporate gifts out from the day after Thanksgiving to the day before Christmas. Why not send yours for Thanksgiving? Or for New Year’s Eve? Your gift will stand out more, there won’t be any rush shipping fees, and employees are more likely to have the time to sit and enjoy your gift. More and more people are sending Thanksgiving gift baskets the second week of November to say "Thank You" before the recipient receives all kinds of other gifts. By sending outside the normal Christmas time frame, you can be sure that your gift will leave a lasting impression.

If possible, hand deliver it yourself. And do it with sincerity and good cheer. If you don’t have the time to stop and say hello to everyone in the recipient’s office, don’t go. Rushing out the door will only make you seem self-important and unduly chaotic. Go at a time where you can leisurely spread some goodwill. The boss may ask you out to lunch and you want to have enough time on your hands to accept the offer.

What is your favorite corporate gift? Do you always send corporate gifts at Christmas or are you a non-traditionalist and send them at another time?

Submit a Comment

  • Nicole S profile image

    Nicole S Hanson 6 years ago from Minnesota

    Neat hub! I used to get corporate gift baskets sent to me at my previous job and it would make my day every time! I think it's a wonderful idea for customers.

  • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

    Barbara Anne Helberg 6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

    @janices7...Good information and a nice touch on etiquette.

  • mulberry1 profile image

    Christine Mulberry 7 years ago

    Great advice, definitely information I need several years ago. Seems I was in charge of choosing gifts for referring physicians and so forth.

  • Pinkchic18 profile image

    Sarah Carlsley 7 years ago from Minnesota

    Great ideas and tips here. These types of gifts are great to thank your customers and clients but you made a good point about not trying to coax them with gifts. Great hub.