The 10 Best Business Giftsand How to Give Them
Buying a libation made in your hometown can add charm. "The gift has got to have a little personal touch to it," says Chaney. She recommends purchasing good liquor or wine from your home state. "In Tennessee, we have the Jack Daniel's distillery, and everybody recognizes that," Chaney says. But you also don't want to force your homegrown drinks on someone from a locality where, perhaps, better drinks are made. "Even though wine is a great gift, if you go to France, you can't bring them a bottle of California wine and say mine is better than yours," says Chaney. "You can't give a gift that is that country's specialty."
Books. For some, there is nothing more fun than an evening spent with a good book. But the hardest part about giving a book is picking a subject. "Match it up with what you know about your client or customer," advises Post. So, try a cookbook for foodies, a travel-related book or foreign dictionary for frequent fliers, a gardening book for those with a green thumb, a sports book for football fans, or even a history or business-related book. Just try to make sure the person doesn't have the book already. Coffee-table books full of beautiful photographs or art are also sure to please. "If a person goes to the Kentucky Derby every year and you find a great coffee-table book on horses, the gift has personal meaning," says Ingram.
But you should stay away from self-help books, political books, or joke books, even if you think the person might like it. "I always appreciate when someone gives me a book as long as it doesn't have a message," says Martin. "I don't want to get a book about how to lose weight."
Office items. When Bogan was first promoted to manager, she received a Tiffany pen engraved with the letters MGR, short for "manager," to commemorate her promotion. She still smiles every time she recalls the gift. The key to a good business gift, Bogan says, is choosing brand-name, high-quality merchandise. Ingram also fancies a high-end pen. "In this day and age of E-mail and BlackBerrys and PDAs, people sometimes forget the beauty of the written word," she says. "They're pretty to look at and they feel good in your hand, and it's such a change from our keyboard-driven world."
But you need not restrict yourself to pen and paper. For frequent travelers you can thoughtfully give items to make travel easier. Preprinted luggage tags, travel alarm clocks, document holders, cellphone or BlackBerry holders, and a folding umbrella all are sure to assist a weary traveler. More officebound workers might enjoy knickknacks like paperweights, business card holders, pen and pencil sets, bookends, a desk caddy, or a datebook. And the office worker with pictures of his or her children and grandchildren everywhere could always use another picture frame.
"Most people would say that little electronic gadgets would be a good choice: little calculators or a little flashlight," says Chaney. John Lostroscio, vice president of technology merchandising for Office Depot, likes to give thumb drives, a small memory drive for your computer that can be used to transport work files, photos, and data. "They are well under $50, have 1 or 2 gigs worth of storage or memory, and people appreciate the fact that it is a compact product," he says. Lostroscio also recommends wireless mice and Bluetooth headsets.