The do’s and don’ts of giving gifts to business clients


As the holidays quickly approach, it seems like a great time to start shopping around for gifts to give your various business clients. But before you do so, it might help to know certain do’s and don’ts of giving gifts in the business world – after all, it’s not the same thing as buying gifts for your significant other or relatives.

While giving gifts to clients and business friends is an honored tradition that enhances business relationships, there are certain etiquettes to follow. You must take into consideration things such as cultural norms (for international clients) – for example, you would not send wine or other alcoholic beverages to clients in India, or white flowers in Japan.

In any case, we’re going to help explain some do’s and don’ts of gift giving to business clients, so that you’ll be sure to choose an appropriate gift your business clients will appreciate.

Do’s of giving gifts to business clients

Be thoughtful: There’s no point in sending gifts to your business clients if there’s no thought behind it. Some random calendars and pens will probably end up in the trash – “it’s the thought that counts” doesn’t count when you put zero thought into the gift. If you don’t know exactly what to send as a business gift, consider something like corporate gift hampers, which typically offer a nice selection of gourmet snacks and wine in a neatly wrapped basket. Many gift basket companies like the one linked also offer vegetarian and non-alcoholic options.

Make it personalized: Adding personalization is a great way to gain some influence with a business client. Instead of a generic coffee mug, a personalized message like “Thank you for <x amount of time> of your business with us, <person’s name>!” would do just fine – even better if you get your brand logo on there somewhere. It’s like a business gift + promotional product two-in-one.

Research international gift customs: As mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are certain gifts you shouldn’t give to people from other cultures, like alcohol to Indians, or white flowers to Japanese (all white flowers, no matter the species, represent grief and mourning in Japan). So do a little bit of Googling and figure out what are common, appropriate gifts in a person’s country.

Don’ts of giving gifts to business clients

Make it personal: There is a difference between a personalized gift, and a personal gift. A personalized gift contains a thoughtful message, a personal gift is something you give to a close personal relationship. This includes things worn on the body, perfumes, jewelry, basically anything that could even hint of being misinterpreted by the recipient as anything more than a friendly business gift.

Send a swag bag of promo items: Yes, we mentioned sneaking your logo onto a personalized mug earlier, but that’s about where the line draws. Sending a swag bag of promotional products isn’t really sending a gift, it’s just sending a bunch of stuff with your logo on it. I mean, it’s pretty transparent.

Spend too much: Sending extravagant gifts can easily be interpreted as trying too hard to curry favour with a business client, and there’s no reason to spend a ton of money on someone you simply do business with. Even if you’re just an honestly generous person, it’s still kind of frowned on sending very expensive gifts, unless you’re both millionaires.


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