Gift giving during the holidays has become a tradition in the business world. A well thought out and impressive gift can strengthen your business relationship, share your holiday cheer, and have a positive effect on your overall business. The reverse is true as well. Handled inappropriately, a good intention can have a detrimental effect on your business.
We've written this corporate Christmas gift ideas guide to help corporate businesses avoid the pitfalls associated with holiday gift-giving with tips on choosing the most appropriate and impressive Christmas gifts.
Follow Your Company & Client Gift-Giving Policies
Today, many companies have stringent policies regarding giving and accepting gifts from associates. Limits on the monetary value of gifts that can be given or received will normally be laid out in the company employee or ethics manual. These policies are usually in place to avoid the appearance of impropriety or bribery. Some companies and all governmental agencies prohibit the acceptance of gifts altogether. So before sending a client a gift, check with them to see what their company's policy is - it would be a shame to waste money on a gift that they'd have to return or even worse, throw away!
IRS and tax deduction rules change from year to year so be sure to check how much the deduction is for corporate gifts before deciding how much to spend per person.
If your company is in the middle of a contract bidding process, wait until the contract has been awarded before giving any gifts to the involved parties. By waiting until the deal is closed, you will avoid any gifts being misinterpreted as an attempt to sway the outcome of the decision.
Make Business Gift-Giving A Tradition
If your company has given gourmet holiday gifts in the past, keep the tradition going. Clients and associates come to expect gifts especially if you've sent them out several years in a row. Therefore, stopping the sending of gifts without an explanation can lead to resentment or disappointment. That said, in difficult economic times, it is understandable to scale back your spending. However, avoid stopping giving gifts altogether.
If you are considering giving business Christmas gifts for the first time, be sure that it is a tradition that you can keep up for years to come. Once started, recipients tend to 'expect' gifts every year.
Determine What To Spend
Deciding what to spend on corporate holiday gifts can be difficult. Consider that inexpensive, cheap looking gifts can sometimes be interpreted as obligatory meaning that they can do more harm than good. Of course, at the opposite end of the spectrum are overly extravagant gift purchases. Gifts that are too expensive can be misinterpreted as though you are trying to 'buy' your client's business instead of as an 'we appreciate your business' gift.
Generally speaking, holiday gifts and baskets that fall in the $50 - $60 range are a good bet. They are expensive enough to be memorable, but not so extravagant that they convey the wrong message. Gifts over $150 should be reserved for company executives or groups. No matter what you spend, be sure to purchase high-quality office Christmas gifts.
Finally when determining what to spend, consider the company hierarchy. Obviously, the executives and CEO's of a company should receive more extravagant gifts than the individual lower level employees. If you are sending gifts to several people in the same office who are at the same hierarchy level, it would be wise to send them the same or similarly priced items so that their is no room for misinterpretation of favoritism.
Corporate Christmas Gift Ideas for Clients
If clients are the backbone of your business (e.g. you rely on referrals), you should keep a spreadsheet or file with your clients likes and dislikes. Obviously, you don't come right out and ask them. However in conversations throughout the year, you are bound to learn things about what your client likes to eat, what they like to do for fun, what their hobbies are, and other personal information. Just keep notes on these little tidbits of information because they come in handy when trying to come up with birthday gift ideas or corporate Christmas gift ideas. A sure fire way to make your client feel special is to give them a gift that is especially tailored to their interests. So if you have this data on hand, you are all set. For instance if you know your client is a sports enthusiast, consider tickets to a local football or hockey game.
And for those of you that haven't started that all important file with your client's personal interest information, start it today! And for this year's holiday gift, consider giving a gourmet food basket. We all have to eat and food is one gift you can be sure they won't return!
Use Your Company Logo Tastefully
Don't incorporate your logo on every single item that you give clients for the holidays. After all, holiday gifts are about saying 'thank you', not about promoting your business. That said, using your logo on things like imprinted ribbon or foil stamped on gift boxes is an elegant and tasteful way to incorporate your company information with the gift. Business logo cookie gifts are also a nice way to incorporate a logo for the holidays.
Avoid Politics & Religion in Your Gifts
Although there has been a backlash against retailers for reducing the use of Merry Christmas in stores and advertising, it is still a good idea to stick with a more generic message such as 'Happy Holidays' or 'Season's Greetings' when sending your holiday gifts and cards. That said, if you are certain that your recipient celebrates Christmas or Hanukkah, feel free to send a Merry Christmas or Hanukkah gift.
Christmas Food Gifts are Always a Hit
Giving a gift with snack or gourmet foods is a sure fire winner during the holiday season. Edible food gifts and gift baskets are available at many online retailers and in local stores such as Costco. Holiday savvy retailers offer their gifts and baskets in a wide array of unique containers with various foods such as gourmet nuts, fresh-baked cookies, meats and cheeses and so much more. Even if your recipient has special dietary needs, items such as diabetic gift baskets are a great alternative to sugary treats.
Regional themed food gift baskets are not just great corporate Christmas gift ideas, but also the perfect way to promote your business and your unique local area, especially if your state or area specializes in great tasting, well-known foods. For instance, Virginia and North Carolina are known for their jumbo crunchy peanuts so incorporating these along with other specialty items such as Chesapeake Bay chips, maple syrups, apple butters, and other delectable local items is a great gift idea. Once clients get a taste of those outrageously good peanuts, they'll be ordering them up for themselves.
Finally - a note about alcohol. It is best to avoid gifts with alcohol unless you are certain that the recipient is a wine enthusiast. In this case, a holiday wine gift basket or bottle of Merlot is perfectly acceptable. However, note that many cultures and religions forbid the consumption of alcohol and there is no point taking a chance that someone may get offended.
Include A Handwritten Card
A handwritten card gives any gift a more personal feel. Many online companies will include cards that you provide with gifts that you purchase from them. Just inquire up front about whether or not this is possible.
And finally if at all possible, hand deliver your holiday gifts directly to the recipient. It may take time, but it will make each one of your client's feel truly special.
Tips for Writing Christmas Thank You Cards
The thank you card has somewhat fallen out of favor. It's time to revive it by writing a thank you card for all the holiday gifts you received.
It's nice to teach the next generation how meaningful thank you notes can be as well. It's a nice gesture that shows good breeding and a sense of fine etiquette.
Each Gift is Warranted a Thank You Note
No if's, and's or but's about it
A thank you note, especially at Christmas, can be an unexpected arrival. Most people think that saying thank you in person to a gift-giver is enough. It really isn't. For any Christmas gift sets that you receive, it is proper to send a handwritten thank you note.
Just like when you receive a wedding or shower gift. You must write thank you notes for each gift you receive and not think that one note will cover both gifts. The gift-giver took the time to give you two gifts. So they should receive two thank you notes.
Image by Meiteng
Save Time, Plan Ahead
Do it all in one shot
At Christmas time, with all there is to do, and with holiday cards having just gone out, you may feel like a thank you note is the last thing you have time for. One good time-saving idea is to send out your Christmas cards right after Christmas Day.
This way, you save on having to write out Christmas cards in advance and can just send one letter or card that wishes a Merry Christmas and also contains your thanks for any gift you received.
To open or not to open
Gifts from far away often come in before the holiday. If you receive a Christmas gift basket in advance, open it right away and get your thank you card in the mail right away. If you save the gift for "under the tree," you will leave your giver wondering if you ever received it.
If it's a gift for a child, you might want to save it so they can open it on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, but in that case, make a thank you phone call to the giver as soon as you receive it in the mail. Let them know that you appreciate their thoughtfulness towards your child and that you are going to surprise him or her with it on the big day. Then, a follow-up thank you note is in order.
Saying Thank You
Never goes out of style!
What To Write
Many people agonize over what to write in a thank you note. It need not be difficult or cause you to procrastinate for weeks. Keep a stack of blank thank you notes on hand in several different styles (so you don't keep sending the same one to the same person each time).
Keep postage and a nice pen nearby so there's no excuse not to write a note.
Hand-Write Your Letter
Don't type it out
Say something heartfelt. It's not expected that you be a poet or professional writer. Just write something to the effect of how you will use the gift, that you're so thankful that you were thought of in such a kind way, that you love the gift (even if you don't), and that you wish the giver well. That's it. There's nothing complicated.
Just string a few well-crafted sentences together in your own handwriting and you're set. No computers should be used in thank you note writing as it looks impersonal.
Also, write in a dark ink that is legible rather than a fruity pastel ink or funky silver color. Many people can't read those types of inks well.
Christmas Holiday Traditions
Make the Christmas holiday extra special for your family by creating unique and fun annual traditions. As your children mature, they will have cherished memories from their childhood that someday they can pass on and share with their own family and children. If you don’t have an annual tradition in your family, there is no time like the present holiday season to get started. Try one of these festive and fun ideas –
1) Attend Candlelight Christmas Eve Service – Many churches now offer several candlelight services including midnight mass for celebrating the birth of Jesus.
2) Go Christmas Caroling – Whether you gather your family, a group of friends or a group of folks from church, going caroling door to door will get you in the holiday spirit and spread Christmas cheer to one and all.
3) Open Gifts Christmas Eve – Let’s face it, we all like opening Christmas presents so why not spread the fun over two days. One idea is to let the children open a single gift on Christmas Eve. Another idea is to let the kids (and adults too) open gifts that they receive in the mail from out-of-town family and friends.
4) Have Christmas Movie Night – Choose a holiday film classic like ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ or ‘Christmas Vacation’, make some popcorn and hot chocolate, and then sit down as a family to enjoy the movie.
5) Give a Christmas Tree Ornament – If you have children, nieces or nephews, or grandchildren, this is a great gift-giving idea. Each year give the child a Christmas ornament that you choose just for them, starting with a baby's first Christmas ornament. When they are old enough, they’ll love hanging their collection on the tree. And when they move out on their own and have their own family, they’ll have treasured ornaments to decorate their family’s tree.
6) Volunteer at a Charitable Holiday Event – What a great way to teach your children about giving back to the community! Spread some holiday cheer and get in the spirit by volunteering with your entire family to help with a worthy cause such as serving Christmas Even dinner at a homeless shelter.
7) Go on a Christmas Light Tour – So many people spend time making dazzling light displays in their yards during the holiday season. So get out and join in the festivities by driving around town or your neighborhood to see all the beautiful Christmas decorations and lights.
8] Feed Santa & His Reindeer – This is a fun idea to get your little kids involved in the Christmas Eve festivities. They’ll be so excited. Before the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve, help them put out a plate of cookies and glass of milk for Santa. Remind them not to forget about the reindeer and have them put reindeer food (nuts, cereal, pretzels, etc) on the lawn or snow.
9) Have Birthday Party For Jesus – What a great way for the children to remember what Christmas is all about! Have the kids help you bake a cake that is decorated and says ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’. You can even sing a birthday song.
10) Visit Santa Claus – Mom, Dad and the kids should all go to see good ‘ole St. Nick to get their family photo taken with Santa Claus. Do it a few weeks before Christmas and you can use the photo for the Christmas cards that you send to family and friends.
For even more great Holiday Tips & Gift Ideas, visit Holiday Gifts & Gift Baskets. Your one stop year-round holiday shop!
- Follow Your Company & Client Gift-Giving Policies
- Make Business Gift-Giving A Tradition
- Determine What To Spend
- Corporate Christmas Gift Ideas for Clients
- Use Your Company Logo Tastefully
- Avoid Politics & Religion in Your Gifts
- Christmas Food Gifts are Always a Hit
- Include A Handwritten Card
- Each Gift is Warranted a Thank You Note
- Example 1
- Save Time, Plan Ahead
- Example 2
- Long-Distance Gifts
- Saying Thank You
- What To Write
- Example 3
- Hand-Write Your Letter