Regardless of what industry you’re in, be it tech, marketing, web design, or really anything, you may have found yourself in a situation where you’ve wondered the proper protocol for giving gifts, particularly to your clients.

When you work with clients you want to be able to show how valuable they are to you, but when do you gift a gift, and if you do, what should that gift be? How much should you spend? What’s appropriate?

These are all common questions, and while there’s not one simple answer to them, there are some general guidelines you can follow the next time you’re considering whether or not to give your clients a gift.

Make Sure They Can Accept Gifts

Before going out and purchasing anything, you should determine whether or not your client or business associate can even receive gifts. Some vendors or customers may have rules against accepting gifts, so do a check before you put them in a potentially awkward situation.

There may also be limits on the price of gifts people can receive, so consider that as well. If you’re unsure, check with your client’s human resources department.

Make it Personal

If you’re going to take the time to get a gift for clients or associates, make it personal. .Try to pay attention for a few weeks and see what your client seems to like or be interested in. For example, if your client seems to wear garment clips with his or her suits, maybe choose a unique one. If your client appears to like a certain kind of food, get that.

Just make sure your client knows you got the gift with them in mind, for more meaning.

Balance the Cost

When you’re buying a gift for a customer or anyone you have a business relationship with, you want to walk a fine line when it comes to cost. If you go overboard and spend too much, it can be embarrassing for the recipient. On the other hand, if it’s too low of a price you can seem like you’re cheap. Try to choose something that’s a moderate price point.

Don’t Go with Humor

Getting a humorous gift can turn out very badly in a business situation. Not everyone has the same sense of humor, and someone might end up finding the gift to be tacky or even offensive. Humorous gifts can be tough, particularly if you don’t know your client that well on a personal level, so just skip them altogether.

Playing it safe is always your best bet for this kind of situation.

Be Equitable

As a final note, if you’re working with a team of clients,  make sure you’re equal with your gift giving. You still want to personalize the client gifts, but try to make sure they’re relatively well-matched to one another in terms of price and thoughtfulness.

Giving gifts to clients can be challenging, but following etiquette rules like the ones above can help guide you toward choosing the right items, and being professional and appropriate, while still showing your appreciation.

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