Gifting - A Guide To Proper Etiquette

Gift-giving is already a difficult task. But once it’s done in a specific setting—specifically at the workplace—the difficulty level goes up. After all, navigating through the maze called ‘achieving social acceptance’ is a delicate process.

It’s easy to hurt someone due to carelessness. And considering how corporate settings are a social landmine, making a mistake might deal a huge blow to your relationships and business. Because regardless of whether your recipients are your employees, clients, or business partners, every single one of them plays a valuable role. Therefore, to avoid causing workplace drama, here are some tips to uphold proper etiquette when gift-giving in a corporate setting:

  1. Set A Budget

Since they’ve been a great help in ensuring your business would flourish, you might consider splurging on your team. However, while there’s nothing wrong with spoiling them, doing so might appear overboard, which isn’t allowed in some circles outside your business. After all, not everyone follows the same lifestyle as you do. Because of this, you’re bound to encounter an oversight. 

Although there is nothing wrong with gifting something usual to everyone during the holiday season, this does not mean you should be careless when selecting a gift. After all, your decision comes down to what you can afford. Choose an amount that should cover an average quantity of presents for everyone; celebration boxes would be a great idea! But remember, avoid overspending on excessive gifts, especially when giving gifts to outside business partners. They might have guidelines about receiving gifts beyond what’s acceptable.

  1. Be Fair

Aside from being mindful of your budget, ensure that you’re not leaving anyone out once you’re distributing your gifts. Don’t be afraid to show your appreciation to your team. However, for those with different teams working behind the scenes, change the type of gift depending on the group.

Avoid singling out a member. It can happen when you give them a much more expensive gift than the ones given to the rest of the team. If you work with multiple teams, give everyone similar gifts. Or if you want to express your gratitude through your presents, customize them to lift your entire team’s spirits. Whatever you’re planning to do, always consider everyone, regardless of gender, religion, or other unique attributes they might have.

  1. Use Appropriate Humor

Even though your gifts are meant to establish how grateful you are for your team, that doesn’t mean you’re at a level where you’re familiar with them. Always remind yourself that you’re still at work. Therefore, it’s only proper that you treat your team members appropriately. Avoid getting gifts that apply crude humor, especially if the butt of the joke is a delicate topic in society. Instead, use jokes that poke fun at harmless things.

  1. Research Other Customs

For those who manage large businesses that go overseas, you might discover that everyone has a different etiquette for gift-giving. Instead of learning that the hard way, do your research before getting your international clients and partners a gift. Check if there is a specific taboo on gift-giving in other countries. That way, you can express gratitude for them without unintentionally offending anyone.

  1. Consider The Timing

Holidays are the perfect season for gift-giving, considering their essence is sharing. However, giving gifts doesn’t have to be limited to the holiday season alone. After all, there’s nothing wrong with showing how much you appreciate your team any time of the year.

But certain situations might cause you trouble when giving gifts. Although you appreciate everyone in your business, that doesn’t mean you could call each other companions. Therefore, your recipients might assume you have an ulterior motive when you give them a gift at the wrong time.

Group of young business people are celebrating in workplace with Santa hats in last working day. Young creative people are celebrating holiday in modern office. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

These inappropriate situations include contract negotiations and reaching out to a former client or team member. Giving a gift to someone you just met before making any discussion might be viewed as a bribe to win them over. On the other hand, sending a gift to someone who previously worked with you might seem like you’re buying them back. Hence, only give gifts when celebrating an achievement or if nothing is happening that day.

  1. Minimize Promotional Gifts

Since you’re still at work, branding your gifts with the brand from the business is a no-brainer. After all, this reminds everyone that you’re still practicing professionalism, even though you’re giving them a gift. However, there comes a point when ‘promotional’ could evolve into ‘obnoxious,’ especially if your gifts have little to no practical use. Only use subtle branding when giving out promotional gifts, and ensure they’re useful.

  1. Give It In Person

There’s nothing better than having someone take the time to give every single member of their team a gift. Considering how precious time is, doing this indicates how highly you regard your team since you’re indirectly telling them they’re ‘worth the time.’ Therefore, if you’re looking for another way to make your team feel special, deliver your gifts to them in person.


Weaving through proper etiquette when gift-giving tends to be troublesome, especially in a corporate setting. Because even though you only want to appreciate your connections, you’re bound to make mistakes that could affect your relationships. But once you’ve learned how to do it properly, your recipients can enjoy your gifts to the fullest and even improve the business.


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