Client Gifting Guidelines and Tips

By Joanne Blake | Etiquette & Manners

Dec 12

Etiquette and advice around gift giving

Let’s talk about corporate gifting first of all. It`s helpful to become familiar with the company/organization’s protocol around gifting & if you’re not sure, phone and ask.

Government no-no’s

In Canada and America, associations and government generally don’t accept gifts unless they are consumable & even then it’s dicey. You want to avoid the awkward situation of having your gift returned to you because you didn’t do your homework.

Some general guidelines regarding gifts


So what gifts have you really appreciated?  I’ll bet it wasn’t the most expensive ones? Weren’t the best ones those that demonstrated that the giver knew you and what you’d enjoy?  It’s no different when it comes to corporate gifts.


When you know your clients well, you can personalize your approach. A fellow speaker sent a Tiffany gift certificate to a colleague that recommended her to a client – what made this special is a that the colleague loves Tiffany but would not indulge in it herself.

But gifts don’t have to be expensive, just personalized.

Some low cost, high touch gift ideas:

  • A magazine subscription dealing with their favourite interests
  • Books, CD’s or DVD’s when you know what they enjoy reading, listening to or watching
  • Restaurant gift certificates – tastes better when you know their tastes
  • A donation to a charity or cause you know they endorse such as SPCA, CKUA, Oxfam
  • Tickets to theatre, sporting events or a concert.

Gifts to avoid:

  • Those that are too personal; jewelry, fragrance, clothing
  • Wine or alcohol if you’re not sure of tastes or whether they drink
  • Re-gifting (see the Seinfeld video above)

Finally, be sensitive to the cultural diversity of your clients. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, however sending a corporate gift or card wishing them a happy holiday season or for the New Year or holiday they celebrate would be appreciated.

Click here for a pdf tip sheet – More of our Style for Success Great Gifting Tips

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Posted by Joanne Blake – Canadian Business Etiquette Expert and non-regifter

About the Author

JOANNE BLAKE Canadian speaker, corporate image consultant & business etiquette expert. If you're interested in booking a presentation, keynote or coaching, contact me. Based in Calgary / Edmonton, Alberta in western Canada.