5 No-Nos for Business Gift Giving

If you’re like many small business owners, you’re starting to think about what to give your clients and employees (or you’re ready to procrastinate!). But don’t let the stress and hubbub of the holiday season cause you to make these faux pas! Here’s what not to do during the holiday season.

1. Assume everyone celebrates Christmas. While you mean well, sending a “Merry Christmas” card might offend its recipient, as many people either celebrate other holidays, like Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, or don’t celebrate the season at all. You can’t be expected to know all your employees’ holiday preferences, so stick with a card that says “happy holidays” rather than pinpointing a particular one. And if you are aware that an employee is a Jehovah’s Witness, know that they do not celebrate Christmas. If you’re unsure, ask if it’s appropriate to send a card or gift.

2. Send a bottle of wine. You want your clients to know how much you appreciate them; what better way than to send a nice bottle of red? Alcohol gifts are tricky, and are best avoided unless you are sure that the recipient drinks. You risk offending someone who doesn’t drink with your well-meaning gift.

3. Being cheap. You want your employees to know you appreciate them, but you can’t afford to get them much. I actually received a card with a lottery ticket in it from one employer! I would have rather gotten nothing at all than this cheap token. If your budget is small, work with it. Try a gift card (even $10) to Groupon or other deal site that will give the recipient more bang for her buck.

4. Skip the cards. Holiday cards are a great way to show that you’re thinking of someone. So much the better in January when they need to hire you! Not sending a personalized, handwritten card might put you at the bottom of the list when it comes to your contact’s next purchase.

5. Remove yourself from the gift buying process. I understand; you’re busy. You don’t have time to buy gifts for your employees and clients. While it’s fine to have your assistant make the purchases for you, get involved at least on a preliminary level. Make gift suggestions for clients you know well; they’ll come off as more personalized. Take time to sign each employee card. They’ll feel a better connection with you than if your secretary signs them.

For more tips on small business gift giving, as well as great gift ideas, check out Small Business Trends’ Gift Giving Guide.

Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s written two books: 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and has blogged for several sites, including The Marketing Eggspert Blog, as well as Mashable, Small Business Trends, FutureSimple, BizLaunch and Lead411. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.
Photo: Stock.xchng user jsnflo. Royalty free.

9 responses to “5 No-Nos for Business Gift Giving

  1. I usually just send out Seasons Greetings which can cover pretty well all denominations these days. This is both a politically correct and acceptable type of holiday greeting that people will gladly take.

  2. woot, thankyou! I finally came to a site where the webmaster knows what they’re talking about. Do you know how many results are in Google when I search.. too many! It’s so annoying having to go from page after page after page, wasting my day away with thousands of people just copying eachother’s articles… bah. Anyway, thankyou very much for the info anyway, much appreciated.

    • No problem! All of our blog postings are original content and are targeted to the needs of the small business owner. Thank you for the comment and be sure to check back often 🙂

  3. Great tips Susan!

    I find a personalized card much more effective than a generic one. I’d almost rather not get the generic one …


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  5. @Clint–
    I do that too. I don’t think anyone would be offended by that, or “Happy Holidays.”

    Agreed. I hate it when the company name or person is typed rather than signed!


  6. Lovely just what I was looking for.Thanks to the author for taking his time on this one.

  7. Very interesting topic , appreciate it for posting .

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