7 Ideas for Great Holiday Business Gifts

gift present public domainGifts have been a major part of conducting business since, well, people started being susceptible to bribes, which I pin at around day one.

I say that with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but we have to admit that in the business world there is a line between noting and honoring an ongoing relationship with a gift and a bribe. Fortunately, the IRS has, in a way, defined that line for us: $25. You are permitted to deduct $25 per person, no more. I don’t think the IRS is necessarily saying that anything more than that is a bribe, but more often than not, it’s a wise idea to keep the value of business gifts at a reasonable level, lest anyone mistake your intentions.

Of course, you can give gifts anytime throughout the year, but the subject is often on our minds around the holiday season, so let’s look at some ideas.

Gift cards. Here’s a great way to get right to that magic $25 cutoff. Amazon gift cards are the utility infielder of gift items. Your customers and clients can use the money to buy anything from the latest business bestseller to socks. If you know your recipients a bit better, iTunes gift cards are wonderful. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a restaurant or Starbucks gift card either.

Electronic gizmo. There are various cool electronic gadgets that you can get for $25 or less. How about a good pedometer? There are plenty available in that price range and they demonstrate that you’re health conscious.

Sweets. Giving boxes of candy is standard fare, but if you can find a local candy maker you can put a special spin on it. For example, I know a business in Melbourne, Florida that is located just a few blocks away from Grimaldi Candies, a local small business that specializes in chocolate-covered potato chips. With the advent of boutique candy stores, you can probably find something similar in your area.

Liquor and wine. Here’s another traditional gift, that’s probably becoming a little less popular given today’s sensibilities. It highlights the point that you really need to know something about your recipient. If there’s a history of alcoholism or problems associated with drinking, you wouldn’t want to give this gift. Reserve it for people you know very well, and whose drink preferences you’re familiar with. With that said, wine can be a good gift and considering all the local wineries that are popping up across the country, you can make it a “local” gift as well, although state-by-state shipping regulations may cause problems.

Charitable donations. On a classic Seinfeld episode, George was collecting holiday gifts for a fictitious “Human Fund.” But in some cases making a donation to a worthwhile and respected charity can be a great way to honor a business relationship. You’ll need to exercise your knowledge and judgment.

Books and subscriptions. In the B2B world, anything that adds to knowledge is well appreciated. If there’s a hot title you think everyone should read, buy a box and send them out.

A shared event. Getting all your best clients together for a night out and maybe attending a local professional athletic event is always a wonderful way to honor and deepen relationships. Anything from dinner out, to an NBA game, to a good production of The Nutcracker would do the job.

What gift have you received in the business world that you have appreciated the most?

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