The season of giving is coming up, which means being extra friendly with your stakeholders. As long as you keep it tactful and tasteful, spreading some cheer could really boost your standing among your business partners. Here are some lovely corporate gift ideas for different interest groups and personalities.
Do you have a business partner who is happiest when Friday rolls around and they can run away on a hike? Is someone who would prefer that lunch breaks were picnics? People who love green and open spaces are some of the easiest to gift-shop for.
If they embrace the great outdoors, consider some practical adventure equipment. Gift them a durable backpack, a stylish otf knife, a pack of hiking socks, or an insulated flask. If they also have a knack for gadgets, consider a compass, GPS accessory, portable water filter, or the like.
If they’re more the cozy cottage type, opt for an arrangement of office desk succulents in a nice basket, some air plants, gardening gloves (if they garden), etc. Books on environmentally-friendly topics are also a nice idea.
Every workplace has a few people who keep a polite and respectful distance from everyone. They are helpful, efficient, smart, and keep everything neat and simple. These coworkers can be difficult to shop for because they maintain a tidy line between their office surroundings and private life. They don’t really let you get to know them.
The trick here is to play their own game. Simply opt for a professional gift to suit their professional personas. It might seem a bit impersonal, but that’s desirable etiquette in this scenario. After all, these are business partners, not friends. Choose a gift that’s effective, but simple.
If you can, pay attention to the things they typically use. Are they note-takers? A classy leather-bound notebook and quality pen could be a good choice. Office items like picture frames or business card holders are a staple. When in doubt, some nice wine is a classic.
In contrast, there are also those workmates who are easy-going and humorous in every situation. Such business partners certainly won’t mind a professional gift, but it would fall slightly short of the mark. With these relaxed types, take a more relaxed approach.
Opt for a gift that’s more creative or somehow entertaining. The goal is to make them honestly laugh. If you can achieve that, you will demonstrate that you understand them. People like it when someone shows that they’re on the same wavelength. In a business setting, that could dramatically improve your standing.
That said, be careful. An individual’s sense of humor is a fickle thing, rife with subtle cues that are easy to miss. If you aren’t 100% sure you understand this person’s idea of funny, you better not risk it. The last thing you want is to accidentally cross a boundary and have it backfire on your future relations.
In such cases, choose the safe middle ground offered by novelty items. Consider a calendar with office memes, a novelty mug that pokes fun at Mondays, custom sticky notes, and even funny socks.
Like nature lovers, choosing gifts for food fans is easy. A tasteful arrangement of carefully selected bites will always be a hit. This might be a fruit basket, an exquisite chocolate assortment, a charcuterie board, etc. The only potential problems would arise from dietary restrictions.
Take extreme care with allergies, intolerances, and religious or cultural rules. Like with humorous gifts, there are a lot of nuances to trip over. To stay on the safe side, you could forgo food and give food-adjacent gifts instead. Ideas include some quality olive oil, chef-s pron, a knife set, or a customized recipe book.
Whatever type of gift you opt for, you have to strike a careful balance. On the one hand, quality and a dose of prestige are a must. On the other, something too expensive or extravagant will make you look like you’re trying too hard or sucking up.
Likewise, avoid presents that you made yourself. Homemade or handmade goods can certainly be luxurious and thoughtful, especially food and traditional crafts (e.g. leather accessories). But something of your own production is far too intimate for a professional context.
To sum up, the ideal corporate gift requires knowing your business partners as people. If you already invested effort in your networking, that should be no problem. If not, catch the train of holiday functions and make it up. Figure out what they like, and then adapt it to the corporate scenario. Any present you give will go a long way if they see you’re being thoughtful about it.