If you’ve found yourself debating whether corporate gift-giving is worth the hassle this year, we’re here to tell you it most definitely is. When done correctly, corporate gifting is a unique opportunity for brands to strengthen relationships and encourage loyalty with a thoughtful token of appreciation. 

The trick is to understand the unspoken etiquette of corporate gift-giving. If your gift isn’t well-received by a strategic partner or employee, it can do more harm than good. 

As Lou Elliott-Cysewski, Co-Founder and CEO of Coolperx, says, “Make sure the intentions of giving and pleasing are front and center instead of your desire for self-promotion. Too often, Coolperx receives orders for gifts that are glorified business cards with an oversized company logo. Remember, this is about showing appreciation and gratitude. Promoting your brand in a subtle way is an added bonus.”

Thankfully, you won’t have that problem if you’re reading this guide. We put together a curated list of the essential dos and don’ts of corporate gifting to help you avoid any potential faux pas. 

1. Do: Put Thought Into Your Corporate Gift

It sounds like common sense, but thoughtful gifts are the ones that leave a lasting impression. We understand how costly it can be to provide a personalized gift for each and every person, but you can achieve a similar result by choosing an item that you yourself would be thrilled to receive. If you want to achieve long-term gains from the gesture of corporate gifting, it takes brainstorming and planning to find the right fit. 

“In the corporate arena, thoughtfulness is a strategic asset. It’s a way to stand out, be memorable, and strengthen partnerships,” says Max Ade, CEO of Pickleheads who recommends some of the best pickleball paddles for this year. “Thoughtful gift-giving is an investment in the future of your business relationships.”

Start the planning process well in advance and consult with a few of your trusted advisors for feedback on your ideas. Although it can be a challenge to come up with an idea that will wow every person on your team, customized gifts have a way of making each individual feel special. 

2. Don’t: Make the Gift Feel Like a Swag Bag

A good rule of thumb is to steer clear of giving corporate gifts that you would normally hand out at an event. That’s not to say you can’t include a tasteful amount of company branding; just don’t go overboard. Overly-branded gifts typically feel more about the giver than the receiver. It’s all about striking the right balance. 

Shelley Hancock, Chief Beauty Officer of Shelley Hancock Consulting explains it perfectly: “While branding is important, there’s a fine line between a thoughtful corporate gift and one that feels like a marketing tactic. Aim for the former to make a valuable impact. There are plenty of scenarios where promotional hats and reusable bags are a smart choice. Corporate gifting just isn’t one of them.”

It’s easy to slap your brand on just about anything, but it’s best to leave those items for giveaways. Corporate gifts are your chance to show appreciation and build a connection instead. 

3. Do: Establish a Budget for Corporate Gifts

Like most large projects, corporate gifting can become expensive if you don’t have a set budget in mind. Without a number to work around, it can be tempting to overspend on gifts, especially when you want to impress or maintain important relationships. It’s wise to begin with a budget for just about every decision you make in business.

“Budgeting for corporate gifts is not only a financial decision but also a reflection of your commitment to ethical business practices,” states Dean Arbit, Co-Founder and CEO of bud.com where you can conveniently buy weed online. “It helps you allocate resources efficiently while fostering transparency.” 

Taking this extra step can be beneficial for your relationships as well as your bottom line. Establishing a budget for corporate gifts early on should provide a sense of relief. Instead of complicating the task, it’ll simplify the process as you narrow down your pool of options. 

4. Don’t: Give Anything That Could Be Misconstrued

It’s hard to imagine that a company would select corporate gifts that could offend someone, but it can be easy to overlook certain sensitivities. To play it safe, avoid personal items such as clothing or perfume and overly expensive gifts that can be viewed as bribery. 

“The last thing you want is for your corporate gifts to raise suspicion or have a negative impact. Avoiding gifts that could be misinterpreted protects your reputation and preserves the integrity of your relationships,” advises Datha Santomieri, Co-Founder and Vice-President of Steadily who is an expert in landlord insurance needs. “The main objective is to show appreciation to valuable business relationships while maintaining a high standard of professionalism.”

Remember that not all cultures feel the same way about corporate gifts, so you’ll need to consider the background of everyone on your team. Don’t forget to review company policies around gift giving and only give gifts at appropriate times, such as holidays, anniversaries, or after successful collaborations. 

5. Do: Add a Personal Touch to Your Corporate Gift

Personalization can take ordinary office supplies and transform them into being a conversation starter. There’s something about seeing your name or initials embossed across the front of a leather iPad cover that commands attention. 

“Elevate corporate gifts to another level by adding personalization for each employee or client. It makes even the smallest gesture feel more meaningful and memorable,” explains Dakota McDaniels, Chief Product Officer of Pluto, an AI stock trading platform.

For your closest team members with whom you have an established relationship, take it a step further by considering their individual preferences. Personalized gifts will leave a lasting impression and keep you top-of-the-mind for collaboration opportunities or referrals. 

6. Don’t: Overlook the Presentation of Your Gifts

Corporate gifting season is not the time to skimp on the wrapping paper and bows. It’s a unique opportunity to create excitement around your gift. Putting your chosen item in a high-quality gift bag or using rich, vibrant gift wrap can build anticipation and leave more of an impression in the recipient’s mind. 

“A well-presented gift sets the tone for the recipient’s experience,” says Colby Schmidt, Founder of Coursology. “Attention to detail shows that you put time and thoughtfulness into the gift’s presentation.”

It’s an inexpensive way to add a little something extra to your corporate gifts this year. You might even gain bonus points if the wrapping is reusable for their own gift-giving needs. 

7. Do: Search for Sustainable Gift Ideas

Sustainable gifts are the perfect way to support your local economy and make a statement about your company values. It not only shows that you value their contribution to the team but that you care about the earth and want them to do the same. 

“Sustainability in corporate gifting is a win-win. It benefits the environment, enhances the brand reputation, and fosters a culture of responsibility,” explains Degelis Pilla, Co-Founder and CEO of TribeTokes who offers a variety of delta 8 vape pens.

The easiest place to start is to find an item they can use on a daily basis. Then, make it a point to skip over the big-name brands that are mass-produced and look for something locally made. 

8. Don’t: Forget to Respect Cultural Differences

Gifting is a universal tradition celebrated all over the world. However, certain cultures have rules or superstitions surrounding gifts that you must be sensitive to. What may be well-received in one culture could be considered inappropriate in another. 

“In today’s globalized business landscape, understanding cultural nuances is paramount,” states Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB. “Corporate gifts should transcend language barriers and foster a connection based on respect.”

Be mindful of diverse backgrounds when considering what to give as a corporate gift. The larger the company, the greater the task, so it’s best to avoid anything that could be misconstrued. If you have any doubts at all, ask for a second opinion. 

9. Do: Encourage Employee Participation 

The corporate gifting season can be stressful enough. Alleviate some of the pressure by including your team in the planning process. Encourage them to contribute fresh ideas for unique and exciting corporate gifts this year.

“One way business leaders can foster a sense of ownership and pride is to include employees in the decision-making for seasonal gifts,” says Max Schwartzapfel, CMO and Fighting For You lawyer office. “Corporate gifts should represent the entire team’s gratitude and goodwill.”

Giving employees the power to have a say on what they want for a gift will make them feel even more valued and appreciated. It helps check off several other dos and don’ts on this list.

10. Don’t: Lose the Element of Surprise

The corporate gifts that leave the most significant impact are the unexpected ones. Of course, some aspects are hard to hide, but you can spice it up each year by switching up the timing or the type of gift. Instead of a household gadget, try an experience this time around. 

“When it comes to business relationships, surprises speak volumes,” says Jim Mitchell, Chief Growth Officer of Awesome CX by Transcom. “It conveys a sense of thoughtfulness that goes beyond the ordinary, which strengthens the bond.”

Elevate your corporate gifting this year by adding an element of surprise. It could be as simple as how or when you present the gift. No matter what way you go about it, a touch of surprise adds excitement and appreciation. 

Corporate Gifting Is a Valuable Tool When Done Well

With the right amount of thoughtfulness, corporate gifting is still a profitable way to build strong relationships within the company. It’s never about immediate returns but the lasting impression it can have on someone’s experience with your brand. 

To make it extra special, include a personalized note with your gift. As Christopher Littlefield, the founder of Beyond Thank You, notes, “One of the most meaningful gifts you can give another colleague is a handwritten note letting them know you appreciate them. This is an opportunity to let the person feel acknowledged and highlight what you enjoy most about working with them.”

It’s never too early to start planning the next corporate gift so that every recipient is left feeling special.