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Executive Gift-Giving Etiquette

Article Page A4-A5.

Executive Gifting: Gift-giving etiquette

By Holly Fisher
Supplements Editor


Cindy Grosso, founder of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette Inc. and a nationally recognized etiquette expert, offers the following tips for giving gifts to clients, supervisors and co-workers.


In any situation, gifts should be given with the recipient in mind.

ďMake sure youíre giving an appropriate gift. It should always be in good taste and with the recipient in mind,Ē Grosso said. For instance, donít give golf passes to someone unless youíre sure he or she likes to golf.


Check company policy, both of your own company and of the company of the intended recipient. Some companies have restrictions on what their employees can receive, including limited dollar-amount values. Grosso suggests calling a secretary or assistant to inquire about any company policies before you send a gift.


Be careful your gift isnít seen as a bribe. ďIf you give a large gift, it could be seen that way,Ē Grosso said. ďThat may not be your intention, but you want to be careful itís not construed that way.Ē

Thatís another good reason to check on the company policy in case there are limits on the value of a gift.


Giving a gift to your employer is not expected, although an inexpensive gift, such as a bottle of wine or baked goods, would be appropriate.


If you want to give a gift to a co-worker who may also be a friend, do so outside the office to avoid an awkward situation. Also, be careful what you spend on the gift. You donít want to obligate someone to give you a gift in return or to give you an expensive gift.


In almost all situations, cash is not an acceptable gift in the corporate world. Exceptions might be giving a monetary gift to people outside the company but with whom you do business, such as the parking attendant in your company garage. Again, be aware of company policy.


You may think giving your regular FedEx or UPS delivery person $20 in a card is a great way to show appreciation, but FedEx drivers, for example, are not allowed to accept cash gifts. Grosso suggests giving a gift card or a box of chocolates. Mail carriers also canít accept cash, so give some flowers or cookies.


Giving gifts to all your employees may be cost prohibitive, so consider a group gift, such as a Christmas party or a holiday lunch. A personal note or card commenting on an employeeís performance throughout the year also would be appropriate. Grosso said an exception might be a gift to a personal assistant or someone you work closely with on a daily basis. The type of gift depends on how long the person has worked with you.


A bonus is generally not considered a holiday gift. Bonuses are earned. Even though they are typically given at the end of the year, they are not considered gifts and donít require a thank-you note, even though thereís nothing wrong with writing one.

Typically, you donít send Christmas cards to someone to whom you send a gift. Send either a card or a gift, but not both.


Consider sending clients a group gift, particularly if you deal with several people at the company. Send a basket of fruit or cookies that can be shared.


Normally, gifts are shipped to a personís office address, but if you send a gift to the home, be sure it is addressed to both the recipient and his or her spouse.


Consider making a donation in someoneís name. This is particularly appropriate for companies with restrictive gift acceptance policies. If you know the person is an animal lover, make a donation to the local SPCA, for example.


The art of graceful acceptance

If you receive a gift and donít have one to give in return, accept the gift gracefully, saying thank you and making a mental note to return the favor at the next appropriate occasion.

Remember to be gracious and courteous, even if itís a gift you donít necessarily like.


In the international world, giving gifts can be a big deal. Even if your company has restrictions on accepting gifts, you may want to accept a gift from a foreign business associate anyway. Not accepting the gift may be viewed as a major insult and could jeopardize your business relationship. Accept the gift with thanks and then consider donating it to a charity or nonprofit organization.


Say thank you. If you receive a gift in person and express your thanks, itís not necessary to send a written thank-you note. Although, Grosso points out, thereís certainly nothing wrong with sending another thank you. If a gift is shipped to you, do write a prompt note.



Author: Holly Fisher

Source: Charleston Regional Business Journal

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