Business Gift Mistakes to Avoid During the Holidays

Equal Exchange
October 11, 2011
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We've all been there before. Our schedules get crazy, and before you know it, you have to rush a decision on this year's holiday gift. Start thinking about your holiday gifts to clients now. With these quick tips on avoiding business gift mistakes, you can make sure your gift campaign goes smoothly.

  1. Focusing on Quantity vs. Quality. You don't need a massive basket with 50 items in it to make a big impression. Smaller gifts with higher quality products often make a better impression. So instead of five samples-sized items, choose a few high-quality, full sized items.
  2. stack of giftsSending a lot of items with your logo on it. It's cheesy and feels cheap, even if they cost you a lot of money. Clients don't like to be directly advertised to, and may think you're sending the leftover branding items sitting in your company's offices. Choose gift items that reflect your company's business values instead and rely on your gift card message to convey your company's well wishes.
  3. Selecting gender specific gifts. Sending gender specific gifts can be risky, and even offensive. Focus on gender-neutral gifts.
  4. Sending gifts that contain alcohol. Also a risky gift choice for clients. Unless you know for sure they're into fine Pinot Noir wines from California and their company allows wine to be received, this one is best avoided. Also, if your client is located in other states, you may not be able to ship gifts containing alcohol.
  5. Sending your client a product made by their competitor. This seems obvious, but it certainly happens. Ask yourself before sending out your gift, "Is there any chance one of these products may be from one of my client's competitors?" If so, select something else.
  6. Choosing a gift that doesn't reflect your client's values. Sending a gift that doesn't reflect your client's values is a missed opportunity to show your client that you understand their business and its values. Take a little time to think about the values your client holds, and try to find a gift that reflects those values. Your reward: you'll stand out to your client.
  7. Deducting over $25 for your business gifts: More of a post-business gift purchase mistake, but still something good to keep in mind. The IRS allows you to deduct the first $25 of each gift to clients, which can help you offset the cost of sending business gifts. (Check the IRS website for any updates to these gift deduction limits.)
  8. Sending inappropriate lifestyle gifts. Many times business gift purchasers will make the mistake of sending items that don't fit with the lifestyle of the recipient. Examples include sending children's books to clients without kids or sending a gift package of meats to a client that is a vegetarian. While you may not always know everything about a client's lifestyle, choosing gifts that have a broad base of appeal can reduce the risk of sending the wrong gift.
  9. Waiting until the last minute to arrange your order. Every year, companies wait until the last minute to send out their business gifts. Don't run around frantically looking for any gift you can get out on time, losing the full opportunity of sending a thoughtful gift to your clients. Schedule your business gifts now, provide a better impression with your client, and reduce your holiday stress at the same time.
  10. Not including a personalized message. When you send your gift to a client, you have their attention; make sure to write a personalized message that reinforces your value to them and their value to you as a client.