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Gift-Giving Business Etiquette - Avoid Embarrassing Mistakes This Holiday Season

Lynda Goldman

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Gift giving etiquette can be a challenging ordeal. Have you ever been embarrassed when someone gave you a gift and you didn't have anything for them? Or when your gift was much more, or much less expensive than the one they gave you? Gift giving can be a challenge, especially at holiday time.

Gift-giving etiquette tips:

  • Decide who should be on your gift list. Review your year, and think about which people you want to show your appreciation. You may want to send a gift to the clients you work with most closely, the supplier who met your early deadline, the colleagues who helped make your project a success, and support staff in your office.

  • Before giving a gift to someone in a large company, find out the company's gift-giving policy. One sales representative caused embarrassment to herself and her company when she sent an elaborate gift to a customer who had to return it. The customer's company only allowed gifts of up to $50. Before sending a gift to a client, call their Human Resources department to find out about any restrictions on receiving gifts.

  • If you are not allowed to give a gift because of company policy, send a hand-written note of good wishes. Do not say that you would have preferred to give a gift, but were restricted by company policy.

  • Do not give a gift above your rank. A gift to the company president may be misinterpreted. Consider giving your boss a gift from the whole staff.

  • Don't feel obliged to reciprocate. Employees who receive an unexpected gift from their boss, don't have to return the gesture unless they choose to. If they do choose to reciprocate, it's not necessary to match the dollar amount. Something that reflects the recipient's taste and desires will be appreciated regardless of the price.

  • Be careful about giving a gift to one colleague without giving to others in your office. Consider communal gifts, such as chocolates or a cheese platter for the lunchroom that will be shared and appreciated by everyone. If you want to give a gift to one special person who has helped you or mentored you, be discreet, and give it outside of office hours.

    You are invited to use these gift-giving etiquette tips this holiday season.

    You're also invited to receive a free report: “Breakthrough Communication Skills" packed with powerful tips for business success, at when you join my Communication Capsules newsletter.

    Would you like to attract new customers, increase sales, and boost your career? Click here for simple How-to Guides that give you immediate results.

    From Lynda Goldman, business communications and etiquette consultant and author of 30 books, including How to Make a Million Dollar First Impression.

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