Corporate Gifting Tips: Want to Gift Like a Pro? Avoid These Faux Pas


We’ve all been there: That fine meats and cheeses basket ended up in the office of a vegetarian. That set of Red Sox tickets ended up on the desk of a Yankees fan. And remember that time you forgot all about that one client…who happened to have placed the biggest order of the year with you. Yeah, gifting faux pas happen to the best of us. But they aren’t inevitable (Unlike that annual sales meeting you need to attend…). With a little bit of savvy and some smart shopping (or delegating), you can gift like the pro you are. To make sure you get on the right track, here are some of the big corporate gift tips no-no’s to avoid.

Avoid personalized gifts that are a little TOO personal.

While personalized gifts are the bomb, the wrong gift can leave you with some fallout. The perfect gift for someone in the corporate world should reflect their tastes and interests, without the potential for misinterpretation.

For example, the perfect personalized gift might be a pair of tickets to the Red Sox game or unique Boston gifts for a Boston-based client, or a book by their favorite author. Examples of the wrong type of personalized gift, however, would be jewelry, perfume, or intimate apparel (Obviously).

Need help finding the right balance? Consider a personal gift-shopper service like Occasion Station. All you have to do is tell us a little bit about the recipient. We take care of finding the perfect personal (but not too personal) present. No gifting faux pas here.

It’s not all about you (or your business).

At least not when it comes to corporate gift giving. Contrary to popular opinion, these gifts are not the same as swag (so put the monogrammed tote bag down). Instead of using these gifts as an opportunity to advertise your business, use them as a way to show your interest in and gratitude for your clients and employees.

This means that your corporate gifts should not include your brand name or logo. They should not be leftovers from your last trade show. And they should not include branded pens (Seriously, no more pens. Your gift recipients will thank you).

Instead, focus on gifts that reflect your knowledge of the recipient. What activities do they enjoy? What type of food do they eat? What items might be helpful in their jobs? Answer these questions, and you will be well on your way to putting the corporate gift giving focus where it belongs–on the recipient. And don’t worry: The right gifts will get people thinking about your brand, even if the gift never mentions it.


Offending clients is never a good idea.

In fact, we’ll go out on a limb here and assume that offending your corporate gift recipients is probably the opposite of your gift-giving goals. Of course, you would never do it on purpose. But there a few ways you can unintentionally commit a major gifting faux pas. Here are a few of them:

  1. Regifting

Do we really need to elaborate?

  1. Crossing religious lines

Muslims and Jews, for example, don’t eat pork. Step away from the smoked meat platter. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate Christmas. Consider sidestepping a holiday gift and replace it with a year-end token of gratitude.

  1. Crossing dietary restrictions

This is where knowing your recipient is important. Giving gourmet candy to a diabetic or cookies to someone who is gluten-intolerant will not give clients warm fuzzy feelings about your business.

  1. Suggesting self-improvement

Again, this should be obvious. Leave the self-help books on the shelf (unless you are buying them for yourself).

Don’t spend too much (It’s not just about the budget).

Extravagantly expensive gifts can be fun to buy (and receive, let’s be honest). But they don’t make good corporate gifts. And it’s not just about your budget, though staying within your means is probably wise. Often, people are unable legally or according to the rules of their company to accept gifts above a certain amount.

If you don’t want your gift returned (talk about embarrassing), ditch the crazy expensive and go with something that is both tasteful and affordable. At the same time, don’t take this as an excuse to cheap out on a gift, either. If it looks cheap, it doesn’t belong in your corporate gift lineup.

Feel confused? Need some gift-giving advice when it comes budget? Let the pros at Occasion Station walk the line for you. We’ll stay classy and in budget. How’s that for a win-win?

Don’t leave anyone out.

You know how that one kid was always the last one picked for sports during phys ed in school? Do you remember how embarrassing it was to be the only one at the lunch table with no one to talk to? Don’t replay that kind of childhood trauma in the corporate world. Make sure you include everyone who should receive a gift from you this year.

For example, give a gift to every client who placed an order of more than a certain amount. Pass out presents to all of the employees on your team (Yes, even the slacker). This is like those elementary school award ceremonies: No one gets left out.

Buying corporate gifts for clients and employees doesn’t have to be hard. With the right personal gift shopping service, you can find perfect gifts for everyone on your list without making any gifting faux pas. Because, overly personal gifts, branded presents, offensive offerings, expensive gifts, and leaving people out is no way to celebrate, well, anything.

Instead, whether you are celebrating the completion of a major milestone, sending a thank you to a client, marking a holiday, or trying to end the year on a high note, consider Occasion Station for meeting all your corporate gifting needs. Our personal shoppers can find the perfect corporate gift so you don’t have to stress about it, while making sure you get all the praise for being a gift-giving hero.


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