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To Gift or Not to Gift: Business Etiquette for the Holidays

Posted by Judy on Oct 15th 2019

Gift giving at the office can be a gray area. While a gift can boost morale and encourage holiday cheer, the wrong choice can do just the opposite. So what's appropriate? And for whom?

Client gifts

Sending your clients gifts is generally an accepted practice - as long as it's in line with your company policy (and theirs). Throughout your yearly meetings and phone calls with clients, take note of things they would appreciate. Whether it's handmade chocolates, a fruit basket, a catered lunch or a restaurant gift card, make sure it's something you know they can enjoy. Be aware that many publicly traded companies now prohibit employees from accepting gifts, so do your homework before you invest.

Staff gifts

Giving small holiday gifts to your direct reports is also recommended. Gifts don't need to be expensive, but should show them you put thought into it. Rule of thumb, if you gift one of your staff, be prepared to gift them all.

What NOT to give

  • Money. While gift cards are acceptable, monetary gifts can be considered impersonal or tacky and show lack of holiday spirit.
  • Alcohol. If you don't know the recipient well, you run the risk of offending their religious or personal beliefs with an alcoholic gift.
  • Gag gifts. Avoid anything that could potentially embarrass you or the recipient.
  • Extravagance. Spending an excessive amount of money won't necessarily win over your staff and clients. In fact, it can make people uncomfortable.

Whatever the gift, don't forget to include a personalized card or note to express your thanks and well wishes. And if your gift is going to someone out of town this year, give it a little extra time to get there.