In this holiday season, giving a business holiday gift can present a dilemma as to what is suitable, practical and even correct in the field of gift giving etiquette. Business associates, clients, employees, bosses, as well as people who serve us, can all be recipients of gifts. Luckily, there are guidelines in this arena that will help insure your good intentions.
The first and most important rule of business gift giving etiquette is that gifts should always be in good taste.
In the business world, be sure of any policy on gift giving. Some companies have policies on kinds of gifts or even the amounts spent. If there is a company policy, it may be a good idea to send out a memo before the season begins to remind employees. It may be more suitable that you give to some needy organization rather than exchanging gifts among one another.
If no policy is in place, here are a few tips on giving gift that may help you this season:
Co-workers – Gift giving among co-workers is better done away from the office. This is not to alienate those you did not give to. You may want to limit the amount spent in order to not obligate others. Money is typically not an acceptable gift for co-workers.
Employees – Typically, employees are not expected to give gifts to their employer or anyone in a senior position. It is acceptable to give a gift to your boss; however, it is best that it not be overly expensive…maybe even something you have baked. Another idea could be to give the boss a gift from several people in the department and possibly even address it to the spouse as well. A bottle of wine or a plant may be a good choice.
Employers – May give small gifts to the entire staff. However, if the number of gifts is too large, it may be a good idea to make the company party or lunch the gift. If economic conditions do not permit gift giving, a personal message in a holiday card is acceptable. Employers should give their assistants a gift, if possible. This can range from candy, flowers, to a more personal item or a gift certificate. The general rule is that the longer they have been with you the more expensive the gift can be.
Clients – When appropriate, give a small gift that will not be construed as a bribe, and/or does not obligate a client.
The holiday season, is a wonderful way to remember those who serve us in business. Some of the more common ones are listed below. A gift of money may in some cases be the typical choice and although the amount is purely discretionary, the following are guidelines that are acceptable.
- The postman – $10-$20.
- Garbage service – $10-$15 per person.
- Newspaper delivery -$10.00-20.00 depending how often you receive the paper.
- Salon/barber – hair stylist, manicurist, shampoo person from $10-50 per person depending on how often you frequent the salon.
- Cleaning service – $50.00 to a week’s salary depending on how often they provide service to you.
Part of etiquette is accepting a gift gracefully. This is always easy if it is a gift you really like. If it is one you may not have chosen, you may say “How very nice of you to remember me this holiday season.” If a gift is inappropriate it should be returned immediately. This could be a gift that is too personal or too expensive or in poor taste. It may be returned with a polite note that explains the gift is felt to be inappropriate.
If a gift is received unexpectedly, a simple thank you is in order. Make a note to give that person a gift at the next appropriate opportunity.
It should be noted, that a year end bonus, although it may be given at Christmas, is earned and not considered a holiday gift.
Business gift giving etiquette guidelines can help us to make the right choices this holiday season as we try to give items that are not only liked, but are also acceptable and in good taste.