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Guidelines for Corporate, Executive, Business and Employee Gift-giving

Corporate Gift-Giving Guidelines

by Susan Kurth Clot deBroissia


General Guidelines...

Gift giving is an excellent way to build or maintain business relations, whether with an important client or a valued employee.

Before sending corporate gifts, be sure to check the corporate policy on gift giving. Some companies have strict policies concerning gift giving. For example, many companies place restrictions on the value of the gift or on the situations in which gifts may be given. Ask the personnel department for the company's guidelines.

Once you have checked the corporate policy on gift giving, keep in mind that gifts should reflect careful attention paid to the recipient's tastes. Try to choose gifts fitting to the client or employee's hobbies, interests, or employment.

Gift Occasions...

While the holiday season is the standard time of the year for corporate gift giving, many other occasions merit gift giving and will make an impact on the recipient:

To Promote:

Your company's products or services

To Show Appreciation To:

A hard-working employee

A client for new or continued business

Someone who has referred business to you

To Motivate or Encourage:

Employees facing boring, unpleasant or difficult tasks

An ill client or employee

To Celebrate or Congratulate:

A business anniversary

A birthday

A retirement

A new job or promotion

Completion of an important project

The opening of a new office

Etiquette to remember in gift giving...


  • Keep in mind the closeness of the business relationship. If you have a client who is not particularly open or friendly, do not think that by sending a gift the individual will loosen up. This often backfires.
  • Be careful not to create the wrong impression with a gift.
  • Avoid extravagant gifts that could be misinterpreted as bribery. It is important that the recipient not feel uncomfortable when accepting the gift. Any gift seen as inappropriate could quickly damage or even destroy a business relationship.


  • Gifts should reflect the interests and tastes of the recipient whenever possible.


  • Frequency of gift giving should be limited to major holidays and special occasions. Depending on the nature of the relationship, it is appropriate to send gifts on personal occasions, such as to mark the birth of a child.
  • Avoid gift giving during a bidding process.


  • Nice wrapping paper and presentation are very important. Remember to enclose a personal note with the gift.


  • While the corporate logo on a gift provides free advertising, it could be interpreted as tacky. It is more appropriate to leave logo customization to gifts that will be used daily such as mugs, keychains, notebooks, etc. Never put a company logo on a gift when you want to leave the impression that it is coming personally from you.

Some appropriate business gifts include...

  • Desk accessories, such as pens, desk blotters, letter openers, clocks, business card holders, calculators
  • Travel accessories, such as travel alarm clocks, carrying cases
  • Food or gift baskets
  • Picnic Baskets
  • Electronic gifts
  • Entertainment tickets to sporting events, the theater, the opera, etc.

Done properly, gift giving is an excellent way of showing appreciation to long-standing customers and valued employees. For tips on giving gifts to international clients, please see our international gift giving protocol page.

This article may be reprinted, provided the following notice is used on the same page as the article:

This article has been reprinted with permission of the copyright owner,, which offers unique and elegant gifts, as well as gift-giving suggestions, for holidays and special occasions.

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