Business Gift Giving “No-No’s” Contest

The Holidays are upon us and for small business owners, gift giving has most likely been top-of-mind. You have clients, service providers, employees – a myriad of people to consider. And with the many various personal and religious beliefs that exist, if not done properly, the topic of gift giving can quickly turn into an ettiquete minefield if you’re not careful.

shocking bad gift

There is help and advice online when it comes to the topic of Holiday gift giving concerning what is appropriate. (Check out the Business Gift Giving Guide from our sister site, Small Business Trends.)

But what about Holiday gift giving “no-no’s” – the blunders?

“Pay attention to details. Whatever gift you choose, make sure it reflects what you provide throughout the year. No client wants to feel bribed by an unexpected payoff at year’s end.”

Ok understood, bribing is an obvious no-no. Another big no-no is to assume that everyone celebrates Christmas. Using the phrase “Merry Christmas” could not only offend someone, but also be a dead giveaway that you know absolutely nothing about the individual.

Check out this article over at Business On Main, “Smart Ways to Send Business Gifts This Season,” which provides do’s, don’ts and ideas. Then come back here and leave us your business gift giving no-no. (But make sure that your “don’t” isn’t one already listed in the article.)

Leave us your business gift giving no-no (and your Twitter username) by the end of day on December 29, 2011, in the comments section below and our team of moderators will pick the best blunder to avoid.

The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate to Amazon!

The owner of this site has an advertising relationship with Business on Main.

22 Responses to “Business Gift Giving “No-No’s” Contest”


  1. Cathy Kuzel says:

    If you choose to give a gift to business associates and/or clients, don’t brag about it. Making comparisons to other ‘gift givers’ not only is bad form but you may find yourself eating lunch alone in the new year!

    Cathy Kuzel
    The Connected Woman

  2. You might think that clients love to get lavish gifts, but I’ve seen them cause mumblings of ‘is that what they’re spending our money on?!’, believe it or not! I think something that shows a bit of consideration for ethics, like a charitable donation or a virtual charity gift, can work really well.

  3. I think a card is enough at Christmas to thank your clients for their business for the past year and wish they continued success for the following year. As it’s at the end of the year, it doesn’t always have to be a Christmas card, specially if your clients don’t celebrate that festival, it can be an end of year one instead.

    A present to me, is a lot like a bribe and can be seen to put a certain amount of pressure on clients to continue to do business because of it, or to return the gesture even though they might not be able to afford it.

    Many of the companies I worked in years ago had a no-present policy which I thought was great.

  4. A box set of the Irish apprentice – that’s just downright hurtful :-)

  5. Lisa Ghisolf says:

    Not everyone drinks – so alcohol sometimes is a no-no! I also struggled with what to get a diabetes center when I was giving out Frango chocolates :) but they liked cheesecakes!

    Just don’t expect it to be acknowledged. Not everyone is comfortable with gifts… and some folks just don’t say ‘thank you’!

  6. @ieshineon says:

    Simple no-no – make sure you spell the recipient’s name on the card correctly and make sure your holiday card doesn’t have any typos or grammatical errors. So basic but often times overlooked.

    1. Casie G says:

      That is such a good one! People spell my name wrong so much that when it is spelled right, I really appreciate it!

      My no-no: Don’t send me a card trying to upsell me or sell me on another one of your products. At least wait until after the holidays to do that!

      @casieg

  7. Unless you’re a gag-gift business, don’t give gag gifts. The whole idea of a business gift is to solidify the professional relationship, to thank a person for their patronage, and to leave the recipient with the feeling of warmth and gratitude. Giving something funny will have the exact opposite effect. Save those gag gifts for your best friend, your sister or someone else VERY close to you.

    1. My Twitter handle is @TeaSilvestre

  8. Tracy Fisher says:

    Dont underestimate the meaning of a handwritten card expressing how you feel about someone or thanking them for being in your life. From a business standpoint, don’t firget to thank your customers/clients for their business.

  9. Erin Thompson says:

    We have a holiday party for clients and employees. If they choose to come we have small gifts wth our company logo on them. We did coffee travel mugs last year. This year we did insulated lunch bags. Everyone gets a great meal, desserts and drinks. It is more personal and allows for a fun and casual interaction outside the business setting.
    As for employees we do do a bit extra for them, they are part of the backbone of our business. We give each of them a gift card to a local retailer.

    @izzyabbysmom

  10. Mahfuz Chowdhury says:

    Business Gift Giving No-No: Generic “e-card” emails that might as well be considered spam.

    Clients and Staff want to know that you are personally speaking to them, and not just sending them a quick e-card that could have been typed out by your grandmother!

    Twitter name: @cmahfuz

  11. Matt says:

    The worst thing I’ve seen is a boss giving gifts to one employee but not the other, or giving a better gift to one employee. If they aren’t treated equally then they holiday gift giving just reaffirms what they suspected all year.

    I had a boss who did this once and it was very disruptive.

    @msarrel

  12. Michelle says:

    I consider it taboo to give a card or gift that has a religious connotation (including nativity scene pictures, Star of David, etc.). I know there are those who believe that saying “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” is too generic. However, unless you know the specific religious persuasion of the recipient(s), I feel that there is a risk of negatively influencing relationships with clients, staff or vendors by sending a religious message. It is more inclusive to use a generic message and a generic image (e.g., snow flakes, candles). Twitter @voicesforhealth

  13. Pam says:

    Don’t leave someone out. By that I mean if you deal with more than one person at a business and give one person a gift (maybe your main contact), don’t forget others you deal with there as well. Depending on the level of contact, maybe a gift for your main contact and cards or a smaller gift for the others; or cards for everyone with a handwritten note in each. (Twitter: PWTranscription)

  14. Linda says:

    Send the the presents in advance, consider holiday mail delays and the fact that some people go on vacation during holiday season. It would be better if your business partners receive presents walker then after the holidays

  15. Marisha Huber says:

    - Don’t be the Grinch. Be Cindy Lou Who, who loves people and not the things that they do.
    - Don’t wait to buy or last year’s hot toys will be all that you’re giving to your girls and boys.
    - Don’t expect every little thing to perfect. Christmas is about joy and people make it worth it.

  16. DO NOT make a contribution to YOUR favorite charity and tell your clients you’ve made a contribution in their name. Your favorite charity may not be their favorite charity, and using this poor excuse for a ‘gift’ as an excuse to write off a charitable contribution you want to make is very tacky.

  17. jntuhub says:

    Simple no-no – make sure you spell the recipient’s name on the card correctly and make sure your holiday card doesn’t have any typos or grammatical errors. So basic but often times overlooked.

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