A Beginner’s Guide to Corporate Gift Giving

In the business world, there are a few occasions where gift-giving is a welcomed form of recognition. Whether you oversee selecting a gift for an employee’s birthday, retirement, or a company gift to thank your team, corporate gift-giving can be tricky. With the holidays approaching, you may have questions about what type of holiday gifts are appropriate. You might also have questions about cost and what is a reasonable gift to give. Don’t fret. This beginner’s guide to corporate gift giving will help keep you on the right track this holiday season.

Buying for the Company

Purchasing holiday gifts for your employees is a great to celebrate the season and show the appreciation. The task of selecting an appropriate gift is often assigned to human resources departments. If you are in human resources, you already know the importance of selecting a gift that is fair and considerate of everyone. However, if this is your first time selecting a company-wide holiday gift, you may be feeling some pressure. Here are some tips for purchasing gifts for employees:

  • Be sure to purchase a gift for EVERY employee. Gifting can be personal and to leave someone out may cause feelings of being left out, unappreciated, and even disliked.
  • Play it SAFE and get the same gift for everyone. The best type of gifts are ones your employees will find genuinely useful. Buying the same gift for everyone cuts out the perception of favoritism.
  • Give the gifts at a time when everyone can open and enjoy them together. Don’t ruin the surprise or kill the excitement by opening gifts while half your staff is stuck in a meeting or on the phone with a client. The holidays are meant to be celebrated together.
  • When in doubt, consult your company handbook. For gift-givers who are not in the human resources department, it can be difficult to decide what is appropriate and what isn’t. It is better to be safe than sorry. Check out what your company handbook says on the issue, or schedule and appointment to talk to a human resources staff member to find out what they would suggest.
  • Give gifts bearing the company logo. It's a great way to unite your employees and show some company pride!

Buying for Your Team

If you’re not buying for the entire company and want to purchase gifts for your team or coworkers, there are a few important factors to consider:

  • Managers and department heads should follow the same practice as stated above. Be sure to include everyone when purchasing a holiday gift for your team.
  • With smaller groups, you can switch things up a little and purchase something different for each person just be sure the value and nature of the gifts are consistent.
  • If you are close with just a few people in your department, it’s best practice to exchange gifts on personal time.
  • Stay away from gifts that are reminiscent of inside jokes. New employees or team members not involved may not understand it or even be offended by the gift if they aren’t part of the joke. 

Buying for Your Boss

For some, giving a holiday gift to a boss or supervisor is a bit of an intimidating experience. Many companies opt to gather a few dollars from each employee to pitch in for a nice holiday gift for the CEO or company owner. Depending on the relationship you have with your boss, you may choose to them a holiday gift on your own. You might even participate in doing both! Consider these things when deciding on how to purchase a gift for your superiors:

  • Never pressure a coworker into pitching in money if they have already said that they weren’t comfortable doing so. Money is a touchy subject for a lot of people and around the holidays, people are a little tighter on their spending. In most cases, employees are happy to give a few dollars towards a gift for the boss. However, if someone has stated they are uncomfortable with pitching in, respect them. Do not raise a fuss over it or point out a coworker’s finances to others.
  • Buying a gift that is too extravagant can send the wrong message. It can look like you are trying to influence them in some way. Be thoughtful about the gift you give, but also be reasonable.
  • If giving a gift to your boss as an individual, be sure the gift is not something that can be viewed as bribery or in poor taste.
  • Do not give gifts that are considered personal. If you share a friendship with your boss outside of the office, give personal gifts during personal time. Otherwise, keep your gift professional and in good taste. 

Industry Compliance

If you work in one of the many industries that have compliance laws, corporate gift giving may be governed by specific rules. General compliance rules consider the following to be UNACCEPTABLE:

  • Gifts to government officials
  • Gifts of more than nominal value
  • Gifts intended to influence business decisions
  • Gifts that may be considered bribes

Be sure to consult your human resources department if you aren’t sure what is acceptable in your industry. Although gift-giving is often done with nothing but good intentions, it’s still important to cover your bases. Small gifts are an excellent way to show employees, team members, coworkers, and supervisors how much you appreciate them. The gift-giving practice can improve morale, increase productivity, and boost the holiday spirit in your workplace!


Need creative ideas on what to get your employees this holiday season? Download our Holiday Gift Giving Idea Book!

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