Corporate Gifts to Avoid

Gifting corporate gifts to employees, clients and suppliers can be mean tricky business, unless of course it is cake. Writing this makes me think of HSBC’s marketing campaign telling us the importance of local knowledge. Do you remember it? In this blog post, rather than looking at specific gifts to avoid, I am going to take a more general view on the types of gifts to avoid.


Corporate Gift Basket


Impersonal Gifts

I think impersonal gifts, like branded pens and USB sticks are best suited to being promotional items handed out at events like trades shows rather than as corporate gifts. They have the potential to negate the entire point of a corporate gift; rather than make the recipient feel appreciated or important they make them feel decidedly unimportant and unappreciated. I can appreciate that it can be very difficult to make a gift personal, so if you are indeed struggling, try and give a gift that you would like to receive yourself, like a cake! As a tip, a gift message can really help make a seemingly impersonal gift more personal.


Overtly Personal Gifts

This made sound obvious but I have seen this happen. The type of gift this might be could range from jewellery, lingerie to perfume. Giving such a gift could create the wrong impression and, worse yet, open up a whole can of worms (the perfume smells like an ex lover, jewellery not to personal taste and overly ostentatious/tacky, and umm does anybody remember the lingerie gift scene in Elf?!).

As a guideline, you should consider unisex gifts, ie: gifts that aren't gender specific.


Cheap or Excessively Expensive Gifts   

A cheap gift, say under £5-10 pounds can cause the gift to have the opposite to the desired effect while a markedly expensive gift can make the recipient feel uneasy or even dangerously appear as a form of bribery. As a way to establish what you should spend, you should consider the worth of the recipient to your business and spend a proportional amount. Of course, you may well have a set budget in which case your job will be easy. As a small business, we think anywhere between £15 and £100 is a good amount.


Religiously insensitive gifts   

While most people won’t be overly offended, if at all, by such a gift it is certainly worth avoiding. For example, if someone is known to be of Muslim faith, gifts with pork are best avoided and if their religion doesn’t celebrate Christmas, don’t give a Christmas gift. Rather find out when their equivalent (if any) celebration exists and give a suitable gift then; this can go a long way as it expresses the thought that went into the gift.



No. Just don’t. You should never assume the recipient won’t know, and you know what they say about assumptions! There are dozens of signs that a gift has been re-gifted that you may not identify and the consequences can be worse than not giving a present at all. A cake certainty avoids this problem! 


Funny Corporate Gifts

A funny gift can be a hit or miss, as 'funny' is highly subjective. While in principle they are a good idea, people have such different senses of humour that they can go disastrously wrong and be taken offensively, hence they are best avoided!


I am sure there are many more types of corporate gifts to avoid that I haven’t thought of. If you have any hilarious stories or examples of Corporate-Gifts-Gone-Wrong, please leave a comment in the box below.


Good luck!   

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