Gift-giving during the holidays is challenging enough without having to add colleagues, bosses and clients to the list. Have you heard the story of the company that gave a bottle of wine to a recovering alcoholic or the box of chocolates to the customer who is lactose intolerant? Or even worse, the Toronto-based company that gave the ultimate Canucks fan a Leafs jersey?
The holidays are just around the corner and choosing the right business gift can be overwhelming. To help ensure you don’t end up in the giftgiving hall of shame, here are a few corporate gift-giving tips and advice to keep in mind this holiday season.
- Consider corporate culture. Before sending any gifts, check the receiver’s corporate policy guidelines on gifts. Otherwise, a well-intended gift may be returned to you.
- Tailor your gift to the taste and personality of the receiver. Keeping track of clients’ and colleagues’ likes, dislikes, interests, and hobbies will be helpful when choosing an appropriate gift. If you don’t know the answers, be sure to ask.
- Personalize – but don’t get too personal. Personalizing your gift shows your creative side while letting your recipient know that you’re an attentive listener (an excellent business quality). Stay away from items that are too personal in nature, such as fragrances, clothing, alcohol, tobacco, or art.
- Beware of humorous or gag gifts. Avoid giving humorous gifts if you do not know the person well. What you might think is cute or funny may be offensive or insulting to someone else and could quickly damage or even sabotage a business relationship.
- Always remember the personal touch. Add company-branded wrapping paper or ribbon to add to the overall gift presentation. A handwritten note adds a nice touch to any gift. Whenever possible, try to give the gift in person.
Some gift ideas for 2011:
1. Solar smartphone/cellphone charger. Who hasn’t needed their phone charged but can’t find an outlet? Your client will be able to recharge all their electronic gadgets on the spot with this smart charger.
2. Tickets to events. Does your client love the Canucks? Have an appreciation for the arts? Enjoy Tuesday night at the movies? Tickets are a great way to show you listen to your clients’ interests. Go one step further and attach Canucks tickets to a hockey stick, opera tickets to a pair of theatre binoculars, or movie tickets to a bucket of flavoured popcorn and Twizzlers.
3. iTunes/Chapters/Amazon gift cards. Not just for purchasing music, but also apps, books, movies and streams. iTunes and Amazon gift cards are great for international clients as they can be used worldwide.
4. Donate to charity. Take the time to find out what charity/organization is important to your client and make a donation in their name. Be sure to include a card/certificate of the donation from the organization.
5. USB/memory sticks. The good old standby! Your client always needs them and will always use them. Go one step further and purchase their favourite movie and download it to the USB stick.
Carey McBeth is a Vancouver-based professional etiquette trainer and keynote speaker.
For etiquette training and tips, please visit www.careymcbeth.com.
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