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Give, and Ye Shall Receive

Some simple dos and don'ts regarding holiday gift-giving.

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This story appears in the December 2000 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

Over the years, I've been the recipient of some mighty crappy holiday gifts from business associates. There was the heartfelt card from the CEO, thanking me for my one year of service (I'd been with the company nearly three years); the bottle of scotch (never touch the stuff, but an excellent regifting candidate); and endless promotional tchotchkes (Happy Holidays! Rejoice the birth of our Lord with our emblazoned logo!). The nicest gifts have not been high in monetary value-a wreath for the office door, homemade cookies, a brilliant poinsettia-but were appropriate for the business relationship and my personal tastes. I don't expect a vendor to present me with a Coach bag, but I do appreciate it when some forethought is shown.

Giving holiday gifts to your clients and employees is tricky, expensive and fraught with faux pas potential. But there are plenty of relatively simple solutions. Dottie DeHart, 34, principal of Rocks DeHart Public Relations in Hickory, North Carolina, came up with a unique solution to the gift conundrum for the 1999 holiday season. Since many of her clients are quite wealthy, DeHart decided to go for the personal touch by giving gift baskets. Her staff picked out tins, and each member of the team came up with a contribution to the baskets. While DeHart baked chocolate chip cookies, other associates added homemade fudge, party mix and potpourri. If their clients had children, the group also included goodies for the kids. DeHart added personalized cards to each basket and shipped them to arrive ahead of all the other holiday gifts.

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