Flora Morris Brown

Article Summary:

Guidelines for what type of corporate gift to give, and under what circumstances.

Corporate Gift Basket Ideas: How to Choose the Right Gift

Running your business goes beyond returning phone calls and offering a firm handshake. Your company is also a social organization and at some point you will find the need to give a gift. The last thing you have time for is combing the mall or surfing the net. And yet, selecting a corporate gift is serious stuff.

Gift-giving done right can reaffirm a business relationship, maintain good rapport, increase customer loyalty, and stimulate more referrals..

Gift-giving done wrong can alienate clients, incense an already-upset client, cause a lack of respect among your peers, and jeopardize future business.

The top four reasons for gifts in the business setting are:

  • to say thank you
  • congratulations
  • cheer up, and
  • I'm sorry.

Gift baskets are often the gift of choice because they can be customized and offer an impressive presentation. They are usually filled with a variety of easy-to-eat items that can be shared by an office staff. Most of all, gift baskets are the perfect business gift since they can be given to men and women alike without triggering any unintended or inappropriate messages. Most corporate gift baskets are filled with delicious treats, but if you know the recipient's interested in golf, for example, you might add a book of golf jokes or membership to a club.

Here are some rules to guide you in selecting corporate gifts or gift baskets.

1. It's okay to give gifts to your employees or colleagues but not to your boss.

2. Your gift may have a company logo, but keep it small or it seems like blatant advertising, especially in Japan.

3. Avoid giving business gifts that touch the skin: perfume, lingerie, jewelry

4. A gift enclosure card is very important since it identifies the sender. With heightened security on everyone's mind, no one wants to accept a gift from a mysterious or unknown person.

5. A business gift from female to male should avoid unintended messages. A bouquet of mixed flowers are OK, but roses are not.

6. Learn the international rules of the recipient's country to avoid a cultural faux pas. Here are a few to get you started.

a. Alert the Japanese recipient of your gift. Never surprise. Give at the end of the visit. The recipient will open it later.

b. In China, present group gifts. Gifts with company logos are OK and help confirm that this is a business gift. Avoid giving clocks since the Chinese word for "clock" is close to the word for "death."

c. Avoid gifts to Muslims of alcohol or leather products made of pigskin. Don't give a gift to the wife of an Arab colleague. In fact, don't inquire about her.

d. In Latin American countries you're not expected to give a gift at the first meeting.

e. In Australia, USA, Canada, and Europe gift-giving is rarely expected, but is considered a pleasant gesture. Gifts related to the person's business or hobbies are appropriate.

To avoid gift-giving potholes, most business people choose gift baskets filled with a variety of gourmet foods such as salmon, sausage, crackers, cheese, coffee, sparkling cider, chocolate and munchies. These baskets are delivered to the office, and though they may be addressed to one person, the recipient often shares with the office personnel.

The most important rules of corporate gift giving are

1. Choose the gift with the recipient in mind. If you know very little and can't uncover any information, a fruit basket is often the safest since it doesn't violate Kosher or other dietary laws.

2. Research and give thought to your selection. Even a ready-made gift basket can be selected with care. Liquor is a popular choice, but could clash with religious and cultural rules or offend a recovering alcoholic.

3. Stay within your budget. Your gift will miss its mark if it's ostentatious and breaks your bank. It's better to give a simple greeting card than a garish gift.

Follow these gift-giving rules and guidelines and your gift selections will be delightful and memorable.

Flora Morris Brown, Ph.D. has created custom gift basket designs for such prominent companies as Century 21, Borders Bookstore, UCI, Disney and Kodak. Known throughout the gift world for her dazzling designs, dynamic speaking and motivational writing, Flora helps gift basket designers, florists and retailers capture corporate accounts, find suppliers, improve design techniques, and run successful small businesses. From her website, www.giftbaskets byflora.com she offers unique designs to the consumer. From her website, www.GiftBasket BusinessWorld.com, she produces a bi-monthly newsletter for the trade that provides sales-generating ideas, marketing tips, design ideas and business strategies. Flora has a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Southern California, and teaches Critical Thinking at Fullerton College in Fullerton, CA.

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