Whether a small business is generous or a little penny pinching during the holidays usually depends a lot on how well the company did for the year. If you had a great year, it’s easy to get in the holiday spirit and give clients and employees gifts . But if you didn’t fare as well as you projected for the year, it might be more difficult to appear generous when everyone else is in the giving mood.
American Express OPEN reports each year on where business owners are in terms of gift giving, employee bonuses and holiday parties. In the 2012 Small Business Holiday Monitor, we see that small businesses want to show their appreciation of employees and clients, even if they don’t have large budgets.
Showing Appreciation to Employees
The majority of businesses surveyed plan to acknowledge their employees in some way at the end of the year. The good news for employees is that 35% of small business owners plan to give an end-of-year bonus, up from 29% in 2011. But even if you can’t afford to give each of your staff a bonus, there are plenty of other ways to show your appreciation:
- Employee gifts
- Holiday party
- Group activity
- Time off
- Gift cards
The purpose in using any of these techniques is to let your staff know that you recognize the hard work they put in for your company. Sure, they would all love to get a $5,000 bonus at year end, but if it’s not in the budget, they’ll understand.
Budgeting for Client Gifts
Another component of the holiday season is often giving client gifts . Small business owners are spending slightly more this year than in the past: last year 43% of small business owners bought their customers gifts, spending an average of $827, while this year, 51% of small business owners will spend about $958 on gifts for their clients.
Interestingly, the highest budget that the Small Business Holiday Monitor recorded for client gift spending was in 2007, when the average was $1,483. It’s clear the recession has had an effect on this budget ever since.
Celebrations and Donations
For small business owners that identified more as a “Santa” rather than a “Scrooge” when it comes to generosity this holiday season, more will be hosting holiday parties, though spending slightly less than in the past. More than half of entrepreneurs will donate to a charity this year, through monetary donations, in-kind contributions or time donations.
Whatever your budget, find ways to show your appreciation of both your staff and your clients. Even something as simple as a holiday card can be enough to show your gratitude, and hosting a staff potluck can be a cost-effective way to add a little festivity to your office.
Office Party  Photo via Shutterstock