Gift Etiquette Tips – Business Etiquette

Proper etiquette around office gift giving can be tricky. Here are some helpful office gift giving etiquette tips to make sure your gift is a success.

1. Find out your company policy on gift giving. When giving client gifts ensure you are aware of their policies and that the gift does not exceed the set amount. You don’t want your gift to be seen as a “bribe” specially if its of a high value.

2. You want your gift to show that you really do know the person. Spend time trying to figure out an appropriate gift listen for hints. Your manager complains that her coffee percolator keeps fusing – great gift idea!

3. Who should you give a gift to?

a. A staff member that falls “under” you e.g. your PA or receptionist as a gesture of your gratitude.
b. A colleague who has been particularly helpful, a card expressing that and a small gift is appropriate, even if you don’t do the same for others. Be tactful when singling out colleagues for thank you gifts.
c. Staff that make your everyday 9-to-5 life easier e.g. the company driver or the tea lady. Give cash in a card with a thank you message.
d. A new or existing client you have built a relationship with.

4. Equate the length and strength of your relationship to the longevity of the gift e.g. Flowers, wine, choccies will be enjoyed far quicker than a coffee table book or a picture frame which will be lifelong reminders of your relationship.

5. Hoard throughout the year for “anybody” gifts in case you find yourself in the uncomfortable situation that someone gives you a gift and you had nothing for them.

What do I buy? Here are some great ideas:

• Treat them to a service: a manicure, a cut & blow wave at their favourite hairdresser
• Book them a class: for their favourite interest or hobby e.g. fly fishing, photography
• Food: a gift card for a popular restaurant. Food baskets make great gifts, find out if the recipient is allergic to nuts, drinks wine, is Halaal, or on a diet?
• Books, cd’s and dvd’s: make great gifts, provided you have done your homework of what the recipient enjoys. Include the receipt in case they wish to change it or buy a gift card from a book or music store
• Movie gift cards are always welcomed
• Personalise, personalise – monogrammed cufflinks, a photo frame with their family photo (you’ve asked their PA to get it).

Definite don’ts:

• Lingerie or themed boxers: this type of gift is far too personal
• Alcohol: do your homework, some companies don’t allow it
• Anything too provocative or sexual: this is just asking for trouble and other staff will start assuming the nature of your relationship with the gift recipient
• Anything culturally taboo: e.g. leather to a Hindu or a Christmas ham to a Jewish colleague
• Very personal services: items/gift certificates that imply that her appearance could use help. E.g. an eyebrow wax or hair coloring.
• Fragrance/after shave: even if you know what they like, reserve this gift for husbands or girlfriends
• Trust your instincts. If you think giving a certain gift to a coworker would be weird, than it probably is and you should pick something else.

“ The graceful acceptance of a gift is a gift itself.” Dana May Casperson

Receiving Gifts …

• When opening a gift, thank the person enthusiastically, even if it is the last thing you want or need. Say “This is most thoughtful”, “You are very generous” or “Thank you for thinking of me”
• All gifts need to be acknowledged, promptly whether verbally or with a note.
• When you receive “The Truly Unspeakable Gift” – don’t exaggerate, telling Agnes you LOVE the tea towel with “I love Vic Falls” on it may inspire her to buy you the matching coffee mugs for your birthday! Keep it gracious but non committal The “That must have cost a fortune Gift”
• If the gift is so expensive you can never hope to reciprocate you could say “Thank you, this is excessively generous. I would be happy with anything that comes from someone special like you”.  This is a gracious reply but also drops a subtle hint for next time. A super expensive gift in a business setting may appear suspiciously like a bribe. Perhaps indicate that your company has a policy to only accept small gifts or gifts up to a certain value.

Enjoy the giving and receiving of gifts this season!

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