When to Give Business Gifts and Who to Give Them to

When to Give Business Gifts

You don’t have to wait for the holidays to send out business gifts. There are several different groups of people that might warrant gift giving. But if you’re wondering when to give business gifts and who to give them to, a general rule of thumb is to send gifts to the people who help make your company great.

In general, this includes clients, employees, and certain service providers. Read on for some tips about when to give business gifts and who you should send them.

Gifts for Clients

You should send something small to all of your company’s clients at least once a year. Gifts keep you at the top of clients’ minds year round, writes Forbes contributor John Hall. And even as some company’s cut back in recent times due to the economic crunch, others continue to be convinced gift giving is important for maintaining relationships, reports the Sacramento Business Journal.

If your company has a small number of clients, or a small number of clients with particularly large accounts, you should try to customize their gifts as much as possible. Pay attention to each client’s habits or get some information from the sales people who have dealt with them.

For instance, if a client orders wine during dinner meetings, wine is a safe choice. If you’ve met with the client over golf, then a small token from their favorite course could be more appropriate. These personalized gifts can make your clients feel like they’re special and really important to your business.

But if your business has too many clients for you to manage individual purchases, smaller more general items will do. Just avoid cheap promotional items like pens or notepads with your business logo. Even a handwritten card seems more genuine than these purely promotional items.

You should also cater the timing of the gift giving to particular clients. Some clients, for instance, might not celebrate Christmas. You can ask clients if they do, without any specific questions about their religion or beliefs. But try to cater your gift giving to your clients’ preferences rather than your own.

Alternatively, you might consider sending a gift to clients during another time of year. You could send a gift after the completion of a large project, a new product launch, or another type of milestone.

But be sure to avoid sending gifts during inappropriate times. For instance, if you’re currently trying to close an account with another company or are involved in a bidding war with a competitor, sending a gift could send the wrong message.

Gifts for Employees

Employees have come to expect at least a small token of appreciation from their employer at least once per year. This often takes place during the holiday season or at the end of the year, an annual holiday survey by CareerBuilder explains.

Of course, most would prefer a simple cash bonus. So if that’s a possibility for your company, don’t forego it in favor of a token that only some employees might appreciate.

If you can’t afford sizeable bonuses for every employee, a small token like a restaurant gift card can still make them feel appreciated, suggests Salary.com. For most employees, you should stick to the same type of gift or at least gifts of similar value. But if you have one or two employees or colleagues who you work with more closely, like an assistant or partner, larger gifts may be more appropriate.

The most important aspect of giving employee gifts is to remember every single person. Co-workers are likely to exchange information and you don’t want anyone feeling under-appreciated or forgotten.

Gifts for Service Providers

Certain types of service providers for your business may also warrant holiday or end-of-year gifts. These can include virtual assistants, consultants, and even postal workers.

You may choose to either send gifts to these service providers over the holidays (taking into account their preferences and habits, of course). Or you could send a gift after a big project or period of time where they went above and beyond to help your company.

These service providers are also likely to prefer gifts like cash or gift cards. You can decide on an amount based on how closely you work with the person and what types of services they provide.

But you can also personalize these gifts by adding a small token if appropriate. For instance, if you work closely with a virtual assistant and know his or her favorite type of candy or dessert, pair it with the cash or gift card. But you could be less likely to know the preferences of your postal worker, so cash inside a simple card may be a safer route.

In addition, ask or find out if they have any restrictions on gifts. Postal workers, for example, are only supposed to receive gifts that are under $20 in value. So giving a larger tip or item could lead to an awkward situation for both parties.

Gift Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

11 Reactions
  1. Thanks for the timely reminder. We usually send out gifts just before Thanksgiving as a way of saying thanks to our clients, employees, and referral sources, all of whom make our company great.

    Michael Raanan, MBA, EA
    Former IRS Agent
    Landmark Tax Group

  2. Gifts have its magic. And in this gift giving season, you really cannot make someone feel more appreciated than by giving them a gift. This is a good way to celebrate all the good things that people have done.

  3. The first line summarizes the importance. You don’t have to wait for the holidays to send out business gifts. In order to remain competitive in the global marketplace and recognize employees, clients and vendors, sending gifts however, large or small throughout the year is a great way to build strong and lasting business relationships and this also foster trust and loyalty. A lot of larger corporates already engage in this activity, but it is also important to note for smaller businesses to do the same in order to grow. Smaller businesses however, tend to be constrained by tighter budgets. Gift baskets make a good selection for this since businesses can choose the style, size and the budget that fits their needs.

  4. We are the perfect example of gifting. Dreamdays , we are a gift experience company situated in the UAE and have been in this for over 10 years now. We have seen people move from conventional gifting to gifting an experience which makes it mush easier for a person to enjoy what they have received. You may log on to http://www.dreamdays.ae for further info.

  5. I thought it was really interesting how the article mentions that you should try and send something to your clients at least once a year. I have read that giving corporate gifts significantly increases both client and employee retention. If that is the case, I’m sure the benefit of retaining those two important groups of your company would definitely be worth the up-front cost of the gifts.

  6. Relationships are critical to business and showing appreciation and thanks, whether it is a thoughtful gesture or something a little more generous, always makes good business sense. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, it’s really about thought – and often the message in the card means more than you think, especially to employees. Rather than a generic “thanks for the good work”, you could spend a minute or so thinking of a more personal touch and it will benefit you in the long run!

  7. Great tips! So many companies feel that client gifts are only necessary once per year and while the holidays are a great time for client gifts, if you can swing gifting to clients more frequently, it definitely does to help keep you top of mind for longer! Remember, the cost of retaining a current client is much less than gaining a new one!
    – Jodi Shapiro

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