Think about your office’s holiday checklist. Somewhere between “water the poinsettia” and “plan company party–don’t invite the ventriloquist this year” you’ll probably find yourself with a list of holiday gifts to send to your clients, colleagues, and employees. Depending on the size of your company and your industry, the list may be long and somewhat complex, but one thing’s for certain: corporate gifts are an important way to build relationships with your recipients and make sure they feel valued and connected to your business.

If you’re working with a clearly-defined budget and committed to giving something “different and better than last year!” the task of coordinating unique holiday gifts might seem daunting. That’s where we can help! Here you’ll find our gift experts’ best tips and corporate holiday gift ideas to help you plan your 2017 business gifts.

Knack’s Expert Tips For Flawless Corporate Gifts

Tip #1. Put your logo on the box, not the gift

Research shows that a quarter of logoed gift items are tossed out within the first few days. As tempting as it is to include your strategically-placed logo somewhere on a product, recipients simply do not form strong attachments to company-logoed items, instead considering them more a marketing tactic than a gift.

Of course your company logo should be present, but as part of the unboxing experience, not the gift itself.

Tip #2. Make sure the gift items reflect your brand values

Make sure the gifts and merchants included in your gift reflect your company’s values. If you’re an outdoor company, your gifts should be sustainably sourced. If you’re a service organization that primarily does business in a tight geographic area, you should consider local artisans for your gift items. Whether your values are supporting female-led businesses, emerging technology, or giving back to certain causes, your gifts should be an accurate reflection of your brand.

If you have the luxury of giving different gifts to those on your list, the items should ideally also reflect the values of the gift recipient. There’s nothing more flattering than a gift that says “I really know you.” For example, consider a tote bag made from upcycled sailcloth with a note that says “Because I know you care about the environment so deeply, I immediately thought of you when I saw this bag made from upcycled sailcloth.  It will hold a week’s worth of veggies on your weekly trips to the farmer’s market!”

Metamorphic Gear Upcycled Sailcloth Boat Tote

Tip #3. Create gifts that tell a story

Stories turn great gifts into lasting memories.  The gift may get consumed or misplaced, but the story will always stick with them. “Why” stories are particularly memorable, as in “I chose this gift for you because I know you’re always on the road and…”

Your message card is the ideal place to include the story behind your gift. Whether you’re building on a theme related to an event, your company values, or the year behind you, take the opportunity to reiterate the story in your gift message. It will go a long way toward imprinting your gift in the recipient’s memory.

Tip #4. Don’t be afraid to tell your story

In an ideal world we’d all have time to create a unique gift for every individual recipient on our list, but that ideal world doesn’t exist for most of us.  Creating a “signature gift” that tells your unique story is the next best thing.  “This year I selected these favorite items from my home town of Chicago to celebrate the miracle Cubs win…” or “Our company’s new office in Guadalajara has been transformational for us this year and so we’re sharing handmade products from…”

Sharing a bit of yourself makes recipients feel more included and appreciated.

Tip #5. For food gifts meant for sharing, include at least one “permanent” item to remind the team of your gift after the goodies have been consumed.

What can remain in the office after your recipients have enjoyed the treats in their gift? An office terrarium bottle for the break room; interesting coasters for the board room; an apron, bottle opener, cutting board, or tea towel for the kitchen; maybe even a game or deck of playing cards for team-building…permanent items like these will keep your gift top-of-mind long after the goodies are gone.

Tip #6. Companies are trending toward more personal gifts for individuals.

Personal gift items can build relationships with your recipients as individuals, not just business partners. What company wouldn’t want to be associated with happily swinging on a hammock, or with a relaxing Sunday brunch?  It’s possible to create gifts that your recipients can enjoy in their free time without crossing boundaries around personal privacy…think yard games, entertaining accessories, outdoor gear or travel accessories, depending on what supports your brand.

Snake Eyes Yard Dice

Tip #7. Plan to spend $75 per person for individual gifts, $150 on premium individual gifts, and $20 per person for office/team gifts.

This is not only an industry rule of thumb, but our proprietary research study of business gift recipients also demonstrates that these are the sweet spots for business gifting.

Tip #8. January is still a great time for seasonal gifting.

The ideal window for delivery of 2017 end-of-year gifts is between 11/27 and 12/13. If your gift is going to arrive after December 15th, considering scheduling it to arrive during the week of January 8th instead, especially if it’s a gift for the office to share.  Many people will be on vacation during the weeks of 12/18 and 12/25 and January 1, and you don’t want your gift to be forgotten in the shuffle.

In fact, the primacy recency effect suggests that your gift might be more appreciated and remembered if it arrives in January or in early November before the holiday gifting crush begins.

Tip #9. Presentation matters!

The gift unboxing experience is as much an extension of your company’s brand as the items inside.  If you wouldn’t think of giving a company presentation with sub-par visuals or typos in your slides, then take the same care to understand how your gift will be presented to your recipients.

Tip #10. Why DIY When You Could Have Help?

It can be tempting to try to save costs and put more $$ into the gift items themselves by doing the sourcing, purchasing, assembly and mailing yourself. But unfortunately, these savings almost never materialize, and the hassle factor can be a major source of stress. Boxes, gift wrapping, cards, ribbons, protective wrapping…these things add up.  Not to mention the time spent carefully packaging and wrapping, writing notes and dealing with the delivery service. And if the delivery service has a hiccup or something gets broken in transit, it’s on you to to make it right, with no one else to stand behind.

Assume that the value of having someone else sweat the details is worth 25% of the price of the items themselves.

Tip #11. Finally, there’s no reason to wait when it comes to business gifting.

Expert business gifters start their process during August and September for a reason:  that’s when selection is best and deals are most likely.

You might not have your complete recipient list confirmed in the early fall, but chances are you can estimate your total gift requirements within +/- 15%. Starting early allows your gifting service partner to source special products for you, accommodate specific branding requests and give you the quality customer service that’s hard to find in the rush after Thanksgiving.