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'Tis Better to Give.But to Whom?

Besides employees and clients, what other people in your business circle deserve a little holiday cheer?

It's that time of year again: The December holidays are almost upon us. And while we're assuming you're already planning to recognize your employees with some type of gift, what about the less-obvious gift-receivers in your life? The team of people who support your company on a day-to-day basis? Without them, your company would definitely feel a pinch.

With a little help from two business etiquette experts, we've come up with the following list of service people who deserve to be recognized during the holiday season:

  • Postal carrier
  • Drivers from such shipping services as FedEx, UPS or DHL
  • Water delivery person
  • Soft drink machine delivery person
  • Snack machine delivery person
  • Office supply delivery person
  • Coffee machine delivery person
  • Plant care serviceperson
  • Cleaning service
  • Tech support people
  • Print shop owner

Now for the next step--deciding how much to spend on these people. Phyllis Davis, founder and director of American Business Etiquette Trainers Association, suggests that $25 or less is a good general guide for you to follow when planning your budget. And to help you figure out just what you should give, here's our list of gift-giving dos and don'ts that'll help you make their holiday season a bit merrier.

  • Do give thoughtful holiday gifts, such as a travel magazine subscription to the postal carrier who spends every vacation in a different foreign country.
  • Don't give anything too personal (including clothing, jewelry and perfume) or anything that could be construed as having sexual overtones or is culturally insensitive in nature.
  • Do think about buying edible gifts, since many companies have strict gift-giving policies and price limits.
  • Don't forget to call each company's HR department to ask about their gift-receiving policies. Some companies set monetary limits on the gifts their employees are allowed to accept.
  • Do give your gifts in person, wrapped and with a card attached.
  • Don't hand off an unwrapped gift with the price tag still attached and a "Hey, pal, happy holidays" greeting. It's always nice to recognize your service people by name and take some care in the wrapping.
  • Do avoid giving gifts of cash to your vendors and suppliers--most companies don't allow them to accept it.
  • Don't give wine or liquor as a holiday gift for an employee--many company policies discourage it.

As Entrepreneur.com's staff writer, Kristin Edelhauser writer features, blogs and other pieces for the site. She previously worked as a writer and researcher for the NBC San Diego affiliate.

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