The global focus on transparency and good governance has significantly changed the gift giving game. Multinational companies are bound to an international set of codes and ethics which frown upon any token – no matter how small or well intentioned – that may be misconstrued as a bribe. As a result,
expressing gratitude to clients and business associates, even if it is exchanging presents in the spirit of the season, becomes more complicated. Here is a handy guide to keep you on the right path when deciding upon how to express Christmas greetings to clients or customers…
1. Check company policy. Before you make a corporate faux pas, do a little research, both about your own company and the company to which you intend to give a gift. Many firms have strict policies on if and what its employees may receive, even down to dollar values. Never give cash, as it is easy for the recipient to interpret the “gift” as bribery.
2. Go logo-less. If you’re in the type of business where corporate gifts are either welcome or expected, try to stay away from branded items, particularly if they are high-end. Nobody wants a brand name pen emblazoned with your company logo; it’s just tacky and it cheapens the gesture.
3. Give it away. Companies appreciate if you give to worth- while causes on their behalf. Donations to charity not only help the less fortunate at this special time of year, they also avoid the awkwardness of exchanging merchandise that may be unwanted or inappropriate.
4. Make it suitable. Choosing service-related gifts, such as spa days or tickets to events can be a good choice; just make sure whatever you select is appropriate to your business associate’s interests. Golf passes, for instance, would be wasted on someone who can’t tell a golf club from a club soda.
5. Party on. Want to express your gratitude but don’t want it to be misconstrued? Throw a party! It’s win/win: a big group gift that facilitates corporate networking while getting into the festive spirit of the season.

The purpose of corporate gift giving is to show appreciation and have people think of you again when it’s time to do business. Gifts are essentially a form of gratitude to those who have supported you; choose them well.