Gift Giving in the Workplace – Tips

In business, gifts promote goodwill, demonstrate gratitude and enable us to continue good relationships. Everyone loves receiving a well-thought-out gift. When do we offer gifts? We give gifts when we close a business deal to show good faith and to demonstrate happiness that the arduous process has ended. We give gifts to demonstrate good will on an ongoing basis. We also give gifts to celebrate a holiday.

With the Holidays just around the corner, here are a few tips to consider before selecting a gift for the workplace:


  • Before giving a substantial gift, investigate policies at recipient’s workplace. Know your own company’s gift policy and customs toward gift giving and receiving. May be tax or ethical implications.
  • Select a gift from the perspective of the recipient. Do your research into the background of the gift recipient and determine what they would like to receive.
  • Consider our global economy and different cultures when selecting a gift.
  • Avoid gifts that have a sexual connotation or any form of lingerie. They are inappropriate at the office.
  • If you consider giving food or beverage items during Christmas, make sure that your recipient is not allergic to that particular kind of food. Also, do your research make sure a gift of liquor would be appropriate.
  • You can never go wrong with artistic, one-of-a-kind products. Look for creative, uncommon gifts.
  • Keep in mind the concept of perceived value. What is perceived as valuable by one culture may not be valuable to another.  If you want to give chocolates to someone and you have found through your research that they are not allergic or on a diet, you still have to think about the perceived value of that box of chocolates. What message will your gift recipient take from this? Was this an afterthought or a last-minute decision?
  • How much thought did you put into the gift? A gift could be very simple – for example, a corkscrew. To a wine collector that would have high perceived value, even if it cost five dollars.
  • When deciding on the budget for the gift, look at the hierarchy. The higher up a person is, the more expensive the gift should be. If you’re giving gifts to an entire group of people, don’t give gifts of the same look and value to everybody.
  • A gift for the boss is always best coming from a group. This provides protection from being accused of garnering favour or bribing.
  • Promotional items are not always appropriate. They advertise your own company but they don’t acknowledge the accomplishments of the recipient. However, offer those types of gifts for the situations when they are appropriate.
  • At Christmas, most gifts are sent by mail. At a celebratory dinner, gifts will be presented then. Westerners will usually open the gift, while Asians will not open the gift in front of others.  A retirement gift should be presented unwrapped at the retirement party.
  • A good gift doesn’t have to be big – choose quality, originality or creativity over quantity and size.
  • Risks are: too personal, inappropriate for relationship, wrong price range, culturally misunderstood.
  • Be careful with meaning associated with flowers and colour. Red roses, white carnations…
  • Always wrap a gift with care and attach a card.

  • Enjoy giving!
  • Acknowledge a gift by sending a handwritten note. Even if you don’t like the gift, it should be acknowledged that it was received. Even Christmas gifts should be acknowledged with a note.

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