September 16, 2014

Business Gift Giving Mistakes

christmas shopping basket

Business Gift Giving Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make

Life is chalk full of those “gotcha” moments. When it comes to gift giving, those moments can be embarrassing. Knowledge is power. So before you start shopping, educate yourself and consider the following:

  • Mistake #1: giving a “too expensive” gift. Know what amounts are acceptable. Do your homework before buying gifts to make sure the recipient can receive it. Postal workers can accept gifts valued up to $20 (but not cash or cash equivalents), and FedEx employees up to $75. Some can’t accept gifts at all, so know up front to avoid an awkward moment.
  • Mistake #2: not knowing the recipient’s preferences or habits. Err on the conservative side. The last thing you want your gift to do is make someone uncomfortable, so be certain it will be received gladly. If you aren’t sure if someone drinks alcohol, skip the bottle of whiskey. Understand cultural differences: if a client is from India, a gift of Omaha Steaks would be insulting — or show you to be insensitive and unknowledgeable.
  • Mistake #3: assuming everyone celebrates Christmas. Be sensitive to religious beliefs.  If religious beliefs keep a client or employee from celebrating the holidays, be sensitive to that. When in doubt, ask what is appropriate.  Gently probe by asking in casual conversation whether the person celebrates Christmas.  Don’t put the person on the defensive about their religion, however.
  • Mistake #4: re-gifting (or is it a mistake?). Put your mind at ease: re-gifting is becoming more acceptable. According to Harris Interactive, 78% of adults find regifting is acceptable. If you have a gift you can’t use, and it’s not lame, passing it along is fine. Just make sure there’s no evidence (gift cards addressed to you) that it’s being reused. Also, be sure to keep track of who gave the gift originally – it would be embarrassing to give the same gift back!
  • Mistake #5: overlooking someone. Try not to leave anyone out. If your clients know one another, they may talk about the fantastic gifts they got from you (or not).  The same advice goes especially for employees!   Make a list ahead of time.  No matter how good your memory it’s easy to overlook one person in the Holiday hustle and bustle — and that person may be hurt. At the very least, include ALL on your Christmas card list.

Start Planning for Next Year

If you got a late start this year with your gift giving strategy, plan to get started sooner next year. You can add to your contact list for cards and gifts throughout the year, then make sure it’s updated in October or November. If you need to set aside funds to buy the gifts with, make a plan to save a little throughout the year to cut down on the bite come year end.

According to a survey by Ali Baba, most online retailers start offering discounts on items mid-November through early December.  Discounts drop off sharply come mid-December. You’ll get the best deals when doing your Holiday shopping if you do it early.

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Susan Payton - Awards Communication Mgr.


Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

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