“A real gift comes attached with ribbons, not strings.” (Raymond C Nolan)

Most clients, suppliers and business associates will appreciate a thoughtful gift from your company, and the Festive Season is the most appropriate time to send such a gift.

The challenge lies in selecting a gift that conveys genuine intentions to thank the recipients for the role they play in the success of your business, to strengthen the relationship and to stand out from the competition.

Here are some great tips to ensure your corporate gifts achieve these objectives.

  • Keep it simple: Choose gifts that are relevant and useful to the recipient, and also align with your business values and goals, for example, sending locally sourced gifts made and packaged with sustainable materials.
  • Stick to the popular choices: For good reason, certain gifts are most popular among recipients – with gift baskets, food and gift cards the most popular choices, along with handy tech gifts like portable speakers, headphones and tablets.
  • Allow a choice: Gift cards and vouchers are particularly popular because recipients can choose their own gifts.
  • Edible gift baskets: Gift baskets filled with delicious treats are very popular, because they can be shared with others. Chocolates and baked goodies like brownies are the favourites.
  • Don’t send these items: Avoid gifts like candles, soaps or magazine subscriptions, useless trinkets, office supplies, keychains, magnets and t-shirts.
  • Avoid over- and under-spending: A corporate gift does not have to be expensive, but it should be thoughtful and useful, as well as durable and long-lasting. Rather send great gifts to a few top clients, than worthless trinkets to all your business associates.
  • Presentation: The gift should be attractively packaged, with a personalised note or card included.
  • Personalise: Gifts that are specific to a certain industry, or – even better – to a particular client, will be much more appreciated. Customised products and personalised gifts are also gaining popularity.
  • Avoid in-your-face advertising: While part of a company’s marketing strategy, corporate gifts should come across as tokens of appreciation, not merely as billboards for your company’s advertising. Gifts should be branded with your company name, logo and contact details, but keep it elegant, professional and low key.
  • Experiences: Recipients may prefer experiences to things, for example, tickets to sporting events, theatre performances or even spa treatments, but be sure to allow a choice, unless you know the recipients’ preferences.
  • Host an end of year party: Another example of gifting an experience is hosting a party (a “Christmas party” if that terminology is appropriate to your guests) to thank business associates, creating an opportunity to get to know each other better.
  • Send an office lunch party: A favourite food gift is one sourced from well-known local establishments in quantities that can feed the whole office.
  • Charitable donations: A donation made to a charitable organisation on behalf of a client or supplier can also make a thoughtful corporate gift but allow the recipient to select the cause.
Mind the tax implications

Gifts could be tax deductible as marketing expenses or as cost of sales expenses, but the onus will rest on your business to prove that these expenses were incurred “in the production of income”.

When hosting an end-of-year or Christmas function for clients, expenses such as the venue, meals and entertainment can be claimed as a tax deduction, if your company can prove that expenses were incurred in pursuit of business. Check with your accountant that you will meet all the criteria before you rely on this tax deduction.

Similarly, before making a donation, ask your accountant if it will attract donations tax, which will be payable in the month following the donation date. Only donations made to a registered PBO (Public Benefit Organisation) approved by SARS are not subject to donations tax.

Disclaimer: The information provided herein should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your professional adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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