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Christmas is a time for giving and that applies to businesses as much as it does to private individuals. Many entrepreneurs and business owners like to demonstrate their gratitude to those who have contributed to the success of their company by giving appropriate gifts. But, it is very important to consider what to give, as any gift must be appropriate and avoid giving any offense.


First though you must sort out your gift-giving budget. If you are giving non-branded gifts HMRC will allow you up to £50 per customer, on which you can reclaim the VAT and classify as tax deductible. But, that is a strict limit and if you wrap the present you must factor in the cost of wrapping, including any bows and post and packaging, or face a potential tax hangover the following year.

Promotional items, unlike traditional non-business related gifts, can be charged as legitimate advertising costs, and so the rules on gifts do not apply. Putting your company name on items is a good way to promote your company and give quality gifts at the same time. Items such as quality promotional desktop gifts, printed pens and other items that are useful to the recipient and also promote your company are definitely worth considering as Christmas gifts.

However, the real challenge these days is ensuring that you give appropriate gifts. Many years ago, alcohol was frequently given to business customers as ‘Christmas Cheer’. Now, it is not considered a suitable way of showing gratitude by many businesses, and many corporations and government organisations have strict rules on what is considered acceptable.

The best gifts to give are those that are unique, and well-made. That includes quality promotional desktop gifts that are branded with your company name, but also appeal so much to the recipient that they will immediately have a good impression of your company and also certainly make use of the gift. Continued use is a very important side benefit of giving a quality gift as your company name is constantly reinforced to the recipient each time they use the item. However, if your budget doesn’t allow for well-made or tasteful items, it is better to consider some other form of gift. Just as quality items will reinforce the image of your company to the recipient, badly made or cheap-looking items will have a negative effect. Indeed, it would be better to give nothing at all than poor quality items.

As well as alcohol, other items that you should avoid giving are; meat, personal care items such as deodorants, books on contentious issues, or anything that is deemed humourous (one man’s humour is another’s bad taste, and it may damage your relationship with that customer if it is deemed offensive).

The golden rule is to know your customers and what they will appreciate as gifts. However, if you do not know them that well then give gifts that will have the maximum impact for your company and also avoid offense; in that case you really can’t go wrong with quality promotional items!