Gifts symbolize many things, some of which are simply not appropriate for professional relationships.
Still, the benefits of professional gifting are well-worth doing a little bit of research to understand the do’s and don’t.
Keep reading to learn about the 9 top etiquette tips for professional gifting. These will enhance your business relationship and avoid any mishaps.
1. Find Out About Professional Gifting Policies
Before any gifting occurs, look into the business or corporate rules.
Some businesses have limits to what you can give and what you can receive. It’s better to look at that ahead of time to avoid any negative penalties.
Know your own company’s policies as well as the person whom you wish to gift to.
2. Define the Occasion of the Gift
Gifts are typically given to show appreciation, maintain relationships, or celebrate a certain event.
Think about your motivation for gifting to ensure you’re following etiquette. If you want to give a gift to someone for personal gain or (hopefully not) bribery, you should avoid doing so.
Common reasons for gift giving in a professional setting include:
- Celebrating a promotion, birthday, newborn child, or wedding
- Celebrating anything business-related
- Completing a project or reaching a goal
- Holiday seasons
- Showing recognition and appreciation
With each of these situations, be sure to be sensitive to the giftees and their personal beliefs and preferences to avoid any issues.
3. Choose the Giftee
Once you determine that the timing is right, you should decide who will receive the gift.
Define what part of the relationship you uphold. Are you the customer or client? Are you a coworker, employee, or manager?
This will influence your decision making, as it may be appropriate to give gifts to multiple people.
Regardless, think about how well you know the person or people you’re gifting to. If you’re not very close or familiar with them, you’ll want to stick to standard gifts.
If the giftee is of a different culture than you, do some research to understand customs in their groups compared to yours.
4. Set a Realistic Budget
Something to consider when looking for appropriate gifts is to set an appropriate price.
In some situations, a bigger price tag may be acceptable. In others, it’s only appropriate to give things that are less than $25 in value and overspending may be awkward.
To figure out where your budget is, think about your dynamic with that person, how your roles relate to each other, and norms in your industry.
If you’re unsure, talk to your peers about their experiences. You can always talk to a superior or, if you feel comfortable, to the giftee to determine a proper price point.
5. Involve Others
If you’re gifting to a co-worker for a special cause, consider collecting funds from everyone in the office.
This will make the gift less intimate and get others in on the relationship building.
Then, you can give the gift on business premises when most of the staff who contributed are present.
If you’re a customer or client giving a gift, consider whether you’ll gift to one person, to a department, or to a small office.
Offering a gift that is made to be shared ensures inclusivity, so nobody will feel left out.
6. Choose an Appropriate Gift
This is the most important tip we can give you.
In general, following etiquette means refraining from anything too personal or anything that can be misinterpreted. For example, you may think giving an employee perfume is a nice gesture, while others might see that as crossing boundaries.
This includes anything that may be considered embarrassing, sensual, or insulting.
When in doubt, you can go with relatively safe gifts such as:
- A briefcase or other work-related items
- A book
- A fruit basket
- Gift cards
- An item from your company
- Tickets to an event
For anything food-related, be sure to check in to the giftee about their dietary restrictions or allergies.
If you want to give something a little more personalized, you can look for industry-specific gifts. For example, good gifts for nurses may include a labeled mug or a functional watch.
7. Always Use Caution
We don’t want to make gift-giving seem like a dangerous or bad thing because it isn’t.
However, it’s important to be mindful when giving gifts in a professional setting.
If you’re unsure of the appropriateness of your gift, it’s better to forego it or choose something else. When in doubt, you can always utilize generic gifts with a personal touch.
8. Add a Personal Touch
No matter what gift you give, you can make it a little more thoughtful by offering handwritten or signed cards with the gift.
Even if you choose something generic, this shows that you put extra time into making the person feel valued.
Other ways to do this are to hand-deliver the gift and personalize the gift to the individual you’re giving it to.
9. Don’t Expect Anything In Return
An often unspoken etiquette rule in professional gifting is to not expect anything in return.
Putting expectations on the way your gift will be reciprocated can cause tension in your professional relationship.
Plus, people don’t usually ask for gifts. Asking for them to return the favor doesn’t really make sense.
It’s natural to want a special thank you after giving a gift. Trying to detach from this expectation as a need actually improves our psychological health (and our relationships).
Put Some Thought Into It
No matter how you go about professional gifting, do your best to make it sensitive, meaningful, and appropriate.
Following these tips will help you look in the right direction. Do a little extra research or talk with others in your industry to find out what the norm is for your profession or the profession you’re gifting to.
Keep reading our blog for more tips on celebration and gifting.