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Etiquette for Customer and Employee Gift-Giving


Follow the rules of etiquette for customer and employee gift giving

As holidays or celebrations near, it often leaves some of us in a quandary as to choosing gifts. These problems arise not only at the holidays, but they occur throughout the year. Retirements and anniversaries, employee achievements, and even family celebrations.

There is never a one-size-fits-all when it comes to employee or customer gift-giving. Customers are often easier to shop for as they (or at least the staff) will always enjoy the giant box of chocolates and gargantuan tins of flavored popcorn. While these temporary gifts can be imprinted with your company name, pricier or more personal items should never be emblazoned with your pitch. That's a sales ploy to save for more obvious giveaways and transactions.

Don't assume employees with enjoy toting their gifts around, either, with the company logo on it. Be sure they'll enjoy helping you advertise before you attempt to give logo-gear at the holidays.

Remember to factor in personalization, wrapping, and shipping costs when preparing a holiday or gift budget. Some items are tax deductible (up to $25), but it's also a good idea to visit www.irs.gov and check with your accountant to be clear on the parameters.

The amount of money spent is less important than the thoughtfulness put into the gift. Personalize with a handwritten greeting if at all possible. Hand deliver if you know the customer and his or her staff well. For employees, make the presentations personal without creating embarrassment. Be sure, too, that you spend the same amount on each employee at equal peer levels, even if you diversify with the gifts themselves. They do and will talk, even if it's against all rules of business etiquette to do so.

If you're truly clueless about what employees may appreciate, appoint a trusted employee to help make the decisions. He or she should be able to discreetly guide you in the right direction. You do not want to give a box of chocolates to a diabetic, for instance.

Monogramming will always be a nice touch, regardless of the gift. Remember, though, that these take some time to execute. Allow at least eight weeks plus shipping and wrapping time.

You'll find many resources on the Internet and locally through advertising sales companies. Be watchful, though, for quality. Many of the promotional items are not as attractive or durable as you might hope. If your budget can stand it, shop locally or through unique outlets for less widely available items.

Even without your company logo, a gift that is selected with great forethought will be long remembered.

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