With the holidays, comes the age-old tradition of gift giving.
For many of us former office workers, fond childhood memories of unwrapping presents on Christmas morning were soon replaced by memories of the holiday office fiasco. If you shudder when you recall former office parties, where co-workers became unraveled faster than the big red bows, then this blog post will help put some of those gift-giving fears to rest.
Now that most of us are working at home, we can avoid giving a gift to the boss—because we are the boss! However, we do have online co-workers, agents, freelancers, and clients to whom we’d like to show our appreciation.
So, what do we do?
Generally, many of the same rules of offline business-related gift giving still apply to online gift giving. Unless you are personal friends with your online colleagues or clients, try to avoid gifts of alcohol, socks, undergarments, and cologne. Many of these gifts are too personal to offer, and you would not give them in an offline setting.
In general, online gift giving (e-cards, e-gift certificates, e-gift cards) should be practical and thoughtful but not expensive or cash. A $25 gift is considered a good gift—not too expensive but not too cheap. This is also the maximum amount that the IRS will allow for a business gift deduction that is presented directly or mailed directly to a business associate.
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Food gifts such as meals at restaurants, designer coffee or fruit baskets are still good choices. Scented or unscented candles can also be a good neutral fit for anyone to enjoy.
Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?
Should the e-card say “Christmas” or just “Holiday”? While most of us have been told to use the phrase “Happy Holidays” in today’s diverse work force, this is still true online as well.
Now, the exception is if you have worked closely enough with the person and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he/she celebrates a certain holiday and is comfortable speaking about his/her faith, then use “Christmas”. The same applies to the use of the holidays: Chanukah, Kwanza, and Ramadan.
Because we do work online, there is sometimes that “faceless element” that dictates that what we do really doesn’t get picked up in the real world. The truth is that it does get picked up and it does matter. Even though we won’t be able to see how many shades of red our online co-workers’ faces have turned, we still want to keep our gift giving appropriate.
Gift of Online Shopping
There are many web sites offering great ideas for sending online gifts. One of my personal favorites is Amazon Gift Cards which are redeemable storewide and they never expire.
You may send these gift cards by email, Facebook or postal mail free with one-day shipping. Almost everyone is familiar with Amazon and can select their choice of book, music, e-reader download, and a variety of other gifts as well.
However, if you know the person’s physical address, feel free to send flowers or a plant from 1-800 Flowers. Flowers tend to be an appropriate gift to give for special occasions, but plants can have more of an enduring effect because they last longer and are not as fragrant, color-specific or sentimental.
Three other great web sites for online holiday gift giving are GiftRocket.com, GiftCertificates.com, and SendOutCards.com. Each one offers a different “spin” on online gift giving. However, when using these web sites keep in mind the gift giving guidelines already mentioned in this blog post. Again, think: food, restaurants, designer coffee or tea, fruit baskets, candles, and plants. Avoid: alcohol, undergarments, and colognes.
GiftRocket.com is a web site where you will go to select and send an e-card with a gift card inside. The e-card and e-gift card are then sent via email or Facebook wall. There is also a printout version for you to stick in a regular snail mail card and send. The recipient will have a gift card from a local business, which you have suggested.
However once the recipient redeems the e-gift card by clicking on it, the money is then sent to the recipient via a bank transfer, PayPal or placed on a credit card. The money will be used for the suggested local business or another place which the recipient chooses.
With GiftRocket, the recipient will not forget to use the gift card or be forced to use it at an establishment that they don’t like. There is no money left over on the e-gift card and no hardcopy of a gift card to carry around.
GiftCertificates.com will also send out e-cards with e-gift certificates in them as well as the printed version. The gift certificates themselves are redeemable for any number of gift cards that can be used in all the popular retail chains. Gift cards range from $5 to $500 and are used for that brand or business—the same way offline, “credit card looking” gift cards are used.
Send Out Cards.com
SendOutCards.com offers actual postage stamped cards to be delivered from you to the recipient. What makes this web site special is that the letter is handwritten by a sales rep to look like it came from you. Brownies, books, and gift cards are also available to accompany the beautifully handwritten letter. I remember once receiving a card along with a box of chocolate cookies from a client!
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So with the holidays among us, don’t become a Scrooge! And don’t tremble in your tinsel for fear of not knowing the etiquette of online gift giving! Become an online gift-giving aficionado!