The holiday season is in full swing, and chances are, your gift shopping list contains the names of business associates and clients or customers. And we’ll bet that you’re scratching your head about how and what to buy for these individuals—as well as the etiquette of it all. Here are some guidelines to “wrap” your head around—pun intended.
Prioritize the personal
One major purpose of giving holiday gifts to business associates, clients, and customers is to make them feel appreciated. To promote this sense of appreciation, avoid choosing generic “token” or inexpensive promotional items, as well as ordering the same item for everyone. Instead, try to pick gifts that align with individual recipients’ interests.
If this isn’t practical—for instance, you simply don’t know the recipient(s) that well—an all-purpose gift card, such as an Amazon gift card, is the better option because most individuals would rather have an opportunity to treat themselves to something they want rather than receive a trinket that’s just going to gather dust somewhere. If you’re buying for several people from the same company and cannot afford to purchase anything other than token gifts for each one, opt for a group gift instead—for example, a meal catered by the restaurant from which people in the office order most frequently.
Re-gifting—taking an unwanted gift you’ve received and turning it into a gift for someone else—is becoming an increasingly common practice. But however tempting it may be to try to save money and time this way, don’t do it. Many people can tell when an item was re-gifted rather than chosen specifically for them, especially if it doesn’t align with their interests, personality, hobbies, and the like. Instead of getting the message that you appreciate them, these recipients may feel taken for granted, insulted, or, in extreme cases
Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and many individuals of non-Christian faiths are offended when they receive a “Christmas” gift. For this reason, it’s better to present gifts with “holiday” wishes.
Think out of the box
All that media coverage about the benefits of banishing clutter—for example, the ability to be better organized at home and on the job—has put many people into“purge mode.” So instead of buying a physical item for a business associate, customer, or client, consider treating him or her to an experience. This is easier if you know something about the person’s preferences—for example, if you are aware that a business associate likes to ski at a particular resort, purchase lift tickets good for use at that resort. If you’ve heard that a client has an annual subscription to performances at a certain theater, pay the annual membership fee.
Keep in mind that you can easily give experiences to potential gift recipients even if you have only a general knowledge of their likes and dislikes. We at E-Complish are aware of someone who’s very fond of the theatre. The gift-giver knew it but didn’t want to presume to select a show for her associate to attend, let alone a time and date to do so. So she bought a gift card to Ticketmaster, which allowed the recipient to pick the performance along with a convenient time and date. Had the recipient wanted to do so, she could also have used the gift card to purchase tickets to a concert or other event.
Clearly, holiday gift-buying can be a nerve-wracking experience. However, by following the above tips, you can minimize the hassles. That, in itself, is a gift.