How do you avoid choosing the wrong–or inappropriate–gift for clients? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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How do you avoid choosing the wrong–or inappropriate–gift for clients?

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Question: “My boss normally gives out little goodie bags to the staff on February 14, but this year he also had us order Valentine’s Day treats for several top clients—tiny teddy bears included! To me, this doesn’t seem appropriate or very dignified. Is there a rule of thumb about how many gifts is too many to offer your customers, when we should and should not give them, and what kind we should always stick with?” – Tara, Executive Assistant

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Betty Seu February 21, 2013 at 5:33 pm

As a business owner I wanted to show appreciation to my customers by giving them something for the holidays. I was sick of all the promo product sales guys with the same thing over and over. I was surfing the web and found I placed an order, the items were awesome and most importantly my customers really liked


Ava February 19, 2013 at 11:38 am

At our office we send gifts exactly twice a year–at Christmas and then we make a small charitable donation in our clients’ name at the end of July for our annual charitable giving. It lets the clients know we’re still thinking about them and not just when the holiday gift list gets generated!


Lori February 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I don’t think giving gifts to clients on Valentines Day is appropriate. That’s a holiday reserved more for the intimate people in our lives. That said, if he’s looking for a good reason to give out gifts this time of year and create some good PR for the company, he should think about calling them a “Random Acts of Kindness” gift, since every year RAK week is celebrated around the same time in February.


Mark February 15, 2013 at 11:28 am

I can honestly say I’ve never received a free business-related gift that I thought was out of line. Even receiving something like you described, I would just think, “Free gift, cool!” It really wouldn’t matter to me that it was for a holiday normal reserved for romantic gifts. After all, if the receiver wanted to, he or she could always give it to their significant other if they so wished.


Theresa February 14, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I don’t know that I would think that there is a number that defines too many gifts, but I do think the teddy bears as a gift for business clients aren’t the greatest idea.

Sending a food gift (candy, fruit, cookies, etc) is fine and probably appreciated (maybe more so if the food includes some healthy options.)

It’s probably too late for this year — but if your boss is insistent that gifts need to include teddy bears, I would suggest making a donation to Ronald McDonald House or some other organization that works with children who actually can use teddy bears. I’m not overly fond of making donations on someone else’s name, but I think the clients would prefer that to trying to figure out what they are going to do with the teddy bears.

You could always suggest gummy bears as opposed to teddy bears. (j/k — sort of. I like gummy bears.)


cs February 14, 2013 at 4:17 pm

EVERYONE likes to receive gifts. They either love them or laugh at them. So I say there is nothing wrong with the teddy bears and candy. It can always be taken home to the family or shared with the office. It’s good P.R.


Treva Singleton February 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I do not think there is a rule of thumb on how many gifts a boss should give a client, but I think they should use some professional common sense. Giving out gifts to clients for Valentine’s Day seems very inappropriate to me because it is considered more of a romantic holiday. Exchanging gifts at Christmastime is more appropriate since it is also year-end and people like to do something nice for their clients (and vice versa) at the end of the year. Giving out goodie bags to the staff is a very nice gesture, but definitely not a gesture appropriate for clients on Valentine’s Day.


Marty February 14, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Order your clients a tray of fruit. There are also places that do fruit bouquets. Fruit is healthy and Valentine’s Day is from the heart. It’s a good message to send.


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