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Check It Off – Corporate Gifts Guide

promotional giftsMost women and their male counterparts prefer practical corporate gifts from their employers and business associates. In fact, overwhelmingly, the respondents rated cash and travel as the most preferred gifts from employers.

While researching for her book, Present Perfect: Unforgettable Gifts for Every Occasion, corporate gifts expert Sherri Athay commissioned Momentum Research to survey 1,000 American adults and ask them how they would rate gifts given by six hypothetical gift givers. She found that most respondents rated gifts not only on what they were, but also on the recipient’s relationship with the giver. For example, women prefer personal gifts, such as clothing or fragrances from their significant others, but most definitely not from their bosses. Instead, most women and their male counterparts prefer practical gifts from their employers and business associates. In fact, overwhelmingly, the respondents rated cash and travel as the most preferred gifts from employers. Still, Athay says, year after year, “Whenever we ask, ‘What is your favorite gift that you ever received?’ No one ever says, ‘Money.'” While some employers prefer to give money to employees they don’t know very well rather than give something inappropriate, there are plenty of memorable gifts that employees and business associates will appreciate. So as the 2007 holiday gift-giving season approaches, we’ve taken a look at meaningful, thoughtful gifts for nearly everyone on your corporate gifting list. Before checking these items off your list, however, you need to do some homework. “Business gifts are tricky,” Athay says. As with most business strategies, knowledge is the force that leads to success. That means knowing your client as well as what he knows about his workforce and business associates. One of the first hurdles to overcome is finding out whether or not a business associate can accept a gift. “A lot of businesses forbid their employees to receive gifts,” says Athay. “Call and check the policy.” Once you’ve confirmed that the company does not frown upon gift giving, start checking off your list. There’s the secretary, the executive, that top sales rep, the IT guy and the maintenance manager. Heck, depending on how generous you’re feeling, how about throwing in a gift for the family and/or the pet? And then there are the business associates that you’ll want to remember, like thecustomer whose purchases have significantly increased over the last year, or how about your company’s attorney? Yes, even they like to receive gifts (outside of large courtroom settlements).There’s something for every budget; the twist is in matching gifts with recipients. “The right gift can give momentum to a good business relationship,” says Athay. “Ideally, the business gifts you choose will reflect your thoughtfulness, creativity, good taste and attention to detail. Where the recipient works, what she does there, and her interests outside the office can provide valuable direction for choosing business gifts.”And while we all have unique likes and dislikes, consider some of these business gift ideas for the business associates on your list:

Corporate Gifts For Every Employee

Administrative Assistant

Whether she keeps your business organized and on task or she’s taking care of all the details involved with the sales crew, today’s secretary makes sure the day-to-day operations run smoothly and efficiently. Actually, she is not always a “she” and hardly called “secretary” anymore. Today, he or she is more likely to be called an administrative assistant. Regardless of title, she is discreet (so don’t think of indiscreet items). Some secretarial associations suggest giving a gift that can be used in the secretary’s work. Yet many secretaries say they would prefer gift certificates, cash or a spending spree – and not one that involves office products. For holiday promotional gifts, though, consider something for the desk or something she can take home for use during the holidays or after. Remember, the idea is to address the recipient’s interests and personality. Consider a gift basket with either an office or holiday theme. Suppliers of gift baskets have a variety of themed baskets and chocolates that fit the bill for almost any taste. But be careful about what you put in it. While chocolates and party items are usually a safe bet, alcoholic products might not work. Coffee and tea baskets are also a safe, thoughtful gift. Twists on the basket include a fondue for two-gift set, complete with Belgian chocolate. Or go for something more permanent, but equally memorable. Desk accessories or even unique twists on desk accessories work well. One hot option: a desktop waterfall card and pen holder. The rainbow effect LED lighting features a motion-sensor activation. Every 20 seconds, water cascades down the rock wall, then resets. It operates with a USB cord or 2 AA batteries, both of which are included. Finally, coffee-table books are a sure hit as well. Some books have business topics like 1001 Ways to Reward Employees; a good gift for the HR manager.

The Executive

All year long, business owners and executives work hard and, when holiday time rolls around, many want to play hard. While high-end desk accessories are always appreciated, many executives enjoy more whimsical tokens of appreciation, including lighthearted stabs at the everyday world of business. “There are a lot of really fun, funky desk accessories,” Athay says. “Kick it up a notch and infuse fun into the office.” She has seen burp guns, magnetic building sets (keep them away from the computer), levitating globes and decision makers used in successful gift-giving initiatives. One option you likely haven’t seen before: An Executive Desk Gong kit for a “tongue-incheek” way to assert authority. The kit comes complete with a gong and a 32-page book that traces the history of gongs. Perhaps one of the toughest parts of being an executive is the daily demand of making good decisions that move the company forward. That’s why many executives might enjoy a break from such demands with the desktop decision maker. One offers six possible answers for the user’s quandary. Another decision – maker cube offers 20 possible solutions. On a more festive note, consider unique plates for holiday cocktail parties. The Wine and Dine hors d’oeuvres-size plate has a perfectly cut rim that fits the bowl of a wine glass, so that guests can hold their plate and wine glass in one hand or set them on a shelf together while networking. The design itself is a conversation piece and may just improve sales.

Sales Reps

While a cocktail party helps increase sales, year after year, great sales reps keep businesses growing. For the profits they bring in and the fires they put out, top sales reps deserve more than just a passing nod during the holiday season. While desktop accessories are nice, padfolios, like the scuba zippered padfolio will impress not only the sales rep, but also her customers. Inspired by the interior of a luxury car, the padfolio has a sporty interior and includes a magnetic, removable compartment for ancillary accessories. Whether it’s local, regional or national, sales reps inevitably travel. For long trips, he may enjoy a four-piece travel set that includes a soft-sided case, reading light, neck pillow (with a plush fleece cover) and eye mask. For daily excursions, try a nifty travel kit with a thermos and an imprinted mug..

Go-To Guy in IT

And while that salesman or woman is out boosting your bottom line, the technology professionals in the office are keeping them connected so workflow moves smoothly. The ultimate troubleshooters, IT professionals appreciate organized, fun items that appeal to their sense of order and amusement. One favorite item: a high-tech computer backpack with padded pockets to protect laptop, cell phone, PDA and any other electronic equipment.Some of the items already mentioned may suit someone in IT well, especially the toys suggested for executives. High-tech desk clocks that do double-duty as picture frames will be appreciated as well.Custom holiday baskets geared toward their techie senses work well too. How about custom-made baskets filled, not with food, but with games like authentic slot machines and computer gaming software.

The Maintenance Maestro

The maintenance manager in many companies is not unlike the IT workers. In fact, in some smaller operations, they are often one in the same. Maintenance managers enjoy fixing things when they are broken, but even more so, they strive to prevent catastrophes with the systems that keep your business running. While many would enjoy some of the same gifts as IT professionals, consider also basic home tool kits. If the maintenance manager drives, he more than likely treats his car like he does the business space – with care. Consider carrelated items like a glove box organizer or car safety kit.

The Legal Eagle

Whether onsite or on retainer, the company attorney works in the best interest of the business. And at the holiday season, she also enjoys gifts of appreciation. Consider bookends for those volumes of case studies. For the attorney with a sense of humor, try a collection of New Yorker magazine lawyer cartoons. The book features cartoons from the likes of James Thurber and Charles Addams that depict the lighter side of the law.

Cute Kids and Pampered Pets

Although the gifts above are categorized by job function, sometimes it helps to recognize the life one leads outside the office. An executive, administrator, manager or lawyer who has a young family might enjoy even more a gift that includes his children; something he can bring home and share with those for whom he goes to work every day. One surefire option: a movie night basket. Start with a popcorn tub and add some candy. Add a gift certificate to a local movie theater or movie rental store, and you’ve given your business associate a memorable evening with the family.If it’s not the children that stoke a business associate, it may be their pets. If you want to include the pets in the holiday festivities, consider a photo frame. Or try a softsided pet carrier, perfect for sneaking man’s best friend into the hotel that doesn’t allow pets.

Whether it’s for the pets, the kids, or the business associates’ personal use, holiday gifts tell the recipient that you think well of him and appreciate how he helps grow the business. The time and effort put into finding unique gifts that speak to that respect and acknowledgement will be well worth it. “If you give a business gift that really stands out, people will remember who it’s from,” says Athay.

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