The holiday season is almost upon us, and it’s not too early to start thinking about gift-giving protocols within the office.
Giving personalized gifts to employees can be tricky. When you run a small business with a small staff, you want to show your appreciation for each individual, but not with cookie cutter gifts. Use these holiday gift-giving tips to show gratitude and celebrate a great year.
1. Think outside the cash box.
Sure, employees will appreciate a cash bonus this holiday. But it’s also quite impersonal and it’s something they’re likely to spend without thinking. They may even put it toward their own holiday presents. You want to give them a gift they can appreciate and remember you by. Another bonus of skipping the cash: Employees cannot calculate how much you spent on their gift, and thus can’t guess how much you value their contribution. If you spend less on something they value highly, everyone’s a winner.
2. Consider rewarding your clients.
Your clients give you business all year long, and the holidays are the ideal time to give back to them by supporting their businesses. As Rob Rohena, chief executive and founder of Digital Integration Resources, notes in Entrepreneur, you may be able to barter with your clients by deducting the amount of gifts purchased from their outstanding bill.
When pursuing this strategy, you’re limited only by your own creative thinking about your clients. If you represent a gas station, a gas gift card comes in handy. If you represent a grocery store, florist or other retail business, you could barter for gift baskets for Christmas. If you work for a university, you may be able to barter for tickets to an athletic or theatrical performance.
3. Do think personally.
If you don’t find a good match among clients, think personally about employees to determine what to purchase. Jane from accounting loves all things tech while Steve in marketing is always reading through lunch. Consider getting Jane a new tech gadget, such as a portable speaker, set of smartphone winter gloves or even a gift certificate to the App Store or Google Play. For Steve, consider a new title from an author in your field. You don’t have to spend a lot to select a personalized gift that caters to employee tastes, and employees will appreciate feeling like you know who they are.
4. Do include a handwritten card.
Even if you write the same sentiment to all employees, do be sure to include a handwritten card. This personalizes the gift and creates meaning. If your handwriting is atrocious and you fear employees may not be able to read your regards, you may opt to print out your sentiments and sign your name. Try to include at least one personal sentiment for every card, and ask for help from managers or co-workers if you can’t think of any on your own.
5. Don’t forget about tax liability.
Sam of Ask CPA notes that some managers mistakenly think they are not liable for an employee gift that costs less than $25. In reality, all employee gifts are taxable and subject to withholding and unemployment taxes. While it is easier to calculate liability for a gift card, which comes in a set amount, than it would be for a turkey, you are still bound to estimate as best possible the value and liability of other gifts.