Navigating Corporate Gift Giving

The holidays are traditionally the peak time for gift giving in the U.S. It is a tangible reminder of the recipient’s importance to you. This is true for business as well as personal relationships. A corporate gift not only shows appreciation, it builds bonds. Honestly, everyone loves to be remembered with a gift. But giving can be a stressful time if you haven’t stopped to ask – and answer – a few key questions.

When to give? Traditionally, Christmas gifts were given and the timing was set around that holiday work schedule. With a growing awareness of diversity in the workplace, some have opted to avoid any potential awkwardness and give a more generalized “Holiday” gift any time in December. Although both approaches – based on your knowledge of your customers – are acceptable, we would like to suggest two other options: Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

Thanksgiving is a natural fit for business gift giving because it is a time of giving thanks to those who have partnered with you and trusted you with their business needs.

A New Year’s celebration gift is perfect for promoting goodwill and hopes of shared prosperity in the future. In either case, by delivering your gifts before or after the rush you stand out from the crowd and your gift and sentiment can be appreciated on its own merit.

Who to give to? This question is often answered by considering four things – your budget, the number of clients, the size of those companies, and whether their company policy permits employees to receive gifts. Smaller companies are more likely to permit gifts. A quick inquiry to the HR department of larger companies can usually provide the information needed to avoid any misunderstandings.

Many businesses opt to give gifts to major clients only, or base the gift on a tier system according to the strength and frequency of interactions throughout the year. This is a very workable system, as long as multiple customers in the same company don’t receive vastly different gifts, leading to hurt feelings. In those instances a group or department gift may be the most appropriate present. As for budgets, if you give the same item to all of your customers it is quite likely a quantity discount may be offered, stretching your budget further.

What to give? Obviously, it should be business appropriate. There is a line between personalized and personal. Personalized reflects the personality of the recipient, the giver, or the industry. Gifts of a personal nature are exactly that, and should be saved for personal friendships outside the workplace. Speaking of personalized, there are several thoughts on putting logos on gifts. Some people say it is the best way to keep your name in front of the customer year-round. Others believe it moves the gift into the category of self-promotion and should be avoided at this time of year. A good compromise would be to imprint a brief inspirational message or tagline rather than a logo. Or leave the item unmarked and “brand” it with an enclosed greeting card or packaging wrap. An exception would be if you have private labeled bottles or packages for edible goods. Have fun with the message on these and the use of your logo will come off as a signature, not an ad.

Food is a universal offering. It can be delivered to a single individual or shared among a large group. Cookies, fruit, nuts, jams, honey, snacks, and artisan olive oils and vinegars are just a few of the options available. Many come in pre-packaged in boxes or baskets, but if you want to take it up a notch there are also fun ideas like retro-style lunch boxes or, as mentioned previously, personalized labels on bottles and boxes. Items such as cutting boards, cheese servers, wine caddies and serving utensils can be a nice year-round gift.

It is no surprise that the other most popular corporate gift items are office and business themed. Anything related to electronic devices is going to be spot on. Universal rechargeable battery packs, all-in-one travel adapters, and portable speakers for phones and tablets are sure to be appreciated. Other items that bring personality and year-round functunality to a business gift are perpetual calendars, desk calendars, coaster sets, and executive desktop puzzles.

There are, of course, simply too many other ideas to list here. If you would like to learn more about them please contact us at We are promotional specialty item distributors and have access to thousands of items in any quantity and budget range and we will be happy to help you find the perfect gifts.