Choosing gifts for family and friends can be challenging, but truly daunting for clients, co-workers, and colleagues. Should you give a gift to your boss? The search person who helped you get that new job? A helpful co-worker? What's appropriate?
We've gotten questions for years about the topic, so a few years ago we asked clients and colleagues who always get it right. Our combined tips follow:
1. Learn your company’s gift-giving norms first.
Some companies hold Secret Santa events, some have spending limits, while others hold the belief that holiday gifts should come in the form of year-end bonuses. If the norms aren’t easy to identify, it’s best to ask a friendly co-worker or adopt the trickle-down philosophy. Bosses give gifts to subordinates, but the subordinates do not owe the boss a gift in return.
2. Don’t forget the mail-room.
Once you’ve got a good picture of what’s expected, carve out some time to decide who is on your gift-giving list. You don’t need to include everyone you could possibly thank, but don’t forget about receptionists, the team in the mail-room, and other great individuals who help behind the scenes all year long.
3. Less is more.
Remember this when deciding what to give. Gift-giving is all about being thoughtful. You’ll never be memorable by how much you spend on holiday gifts—and this rule is especially true for bosses. The thoughtfulness of the gift is what really matters. Think about a person’s hobbies, interests, favorite subjects, charities, sense of style. Now, translate that idea into a simple gift. For example, if someone loves gardening, give them a couple packages of seeds to plant.
4. Books make great gifts.
Be sure to link the subject to the person and be creative—give a cookbook with a special spoon. Our favorites include:
One prominent CEO takes a whole day to personally bake fudge for hundreds of friends, clients, and employees. And there is a reporter whose holiday email is so clever, everyone looks forward to reading it. Your holiday tradition can be large or small, but whatever it is, it should make you and others feel happy.
6. Never expect anything in return.
There is no scorecard here. Simply smile and enjoy the happiness that being generous brings. And whenyou do receive, always be appreciative and follow up with a nice thank-you note.
Bonus! Advice for giving gifts to clients.
Avoid gifts with excessive value. Many organizations have a spending limits of $25 to $50 dollars anyway.
If a client gives you a gift, you are not obligated to do the same. It sets a bad precedent, especially if it comes from a senior-level executive.
Always check with a client’s rules of governance regarding gifts and value. Alcohol isn’t typically a suitable gift, and unless they are personal friends, avoid giving gifts to auditors or search executives.
You can give a small gift of appreciation to your client’s assistant, but you should clear it with your client in advance.
Similar to gifting for your co-workers, learn a person’s hobbies and interests and find a relevant gift.
Diana Wyenn, CEO Perspective Group Impression Management Coach
The CEO Perspective Group has helped leaders excel for decades—providing assessments and advice for the CEO, investor, board or company that wants to be even better. Firms, top and senior executives who don't believe in good enough. People and companies who want both rapid and long-lasting results. The CEO Perspective Group was created for these clients. To learn more, visit us online at www.ceoperspective.com.