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 when to give business gifts and who should get them.

When to Give Business Gifts and to Whom

when to give business gifts

In the world of business, the timely gesture of gift-giving often stands out as a mark of gratitude and respect. Knowing when to present these tokens and to whom can weave a stronger fabric of trust and collaboration. Here’s what you need to know about when to give business gifts.

Gifts for Clients

when to give business gifts

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

when to give business gifts

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

when to give business gifts

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.

The Strategic Impact of Thoughtful Gifting

In business environments, thoughtful gifting emerges as a subtle yet powerful tool to build and sustain relationships.

Beyond the immediate smile and gratitude it evokes, a well-considered gift can foster loyalty, create positive associations, and bridge cultural or professional divides.

It’s a gesture that communicates understanding and appreciation, moving beyond mere transactional exchanges. When timed after pivotal moments, such as closing a significant deal or reaching a milestone, gifts can reinforce mutual respect and acknowledgment. More than the monetary value, it’s the intent and thought behind the gift that leaves a lasting impression.

Strategic gifting can position a company favorably, making stakeholders more inclined towards continued collaboration and engagement. In essence, the art of gifting, when done right, has the potential to transform business dynamics, enhancing goodwill and trust.

Business Gifts Tips

when to give business gifts

Plan a yearly budget for corporate gifts, distributing it for occasions like holidays and significant milestones.

  • Ethical Considerations in Gifting: Ensure gifts, especially during sensitive periods like contract renewals, are transparent and not perceived as bribes.
  • Cultural Sensitivities in Gifting: Recognize and respect your recipient’s cultural events or holidays for more personalized and impactful gift-giving.
  • Sustainable Gifting: Eco-friendly gifts can emphasize a company’s commitment to sustainability, especially when given around environmental milestones.
  • Alternative Gift Ideas: Consider non-traditional gifts, like experience-based ones or donations, after significant projects or charity events.
  • Art of Presentation: The packaging and delivery method can enhance a gift’s appeal. Tailor the presentation to the occasion for added impact.

When to Give Business Gifts

hen to GiveWho to Give ToDetails and Tips
Yearly, milestonesClientsPersonalize for smaller groups; consider cultural preferences; avoid during business negotiations.
Holiday season or end of yearEmployeesYearly gift expected; cash bonuses preferable; ensure all are remembered.
Holidays, significant projectsService ProvidersCash or gift cards preferred; personalize if known; mind gift limits (e.g., postal workers).

Maximizing Impact with Strategic Business Gifting: Beyond Just Tokens of Appreciation

Effective business gifting goes beyond mere tokens of appreciation, embodying a strategic approach to strengthen professional relationships and build trust. By carefully choosing and timing these gifts, companies can significantly enhance their interactions, fostering loyalty and respect.

This practice not only acknowledges the contributions of clients, employees, and service providers but also reflects a company’s values and commitment to sustained partnerships. As such, business gifting emerges as a key element in a broader strategy of engagement and relationship-building within the corporate world.

It’s a sophisticated art that, when executed with thoughtfulness and sincerity, can yield long-term benefits in terms of strengthened alliances, improved morale, and a positive corporate image.

Gift Photo via Shutterstock

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.