The biggest misconception about the holidays: it’s the thought that counts. You know this is BS if you have kids. If it were true, they’d be thrilled with the Mozart box set because it’ll help raise their math scores or the stocking full of Brussels sprouts because vitamin K helps with blood coagulation. That’s thoughtful, right? But people want what they want – not necessarily what you want to get them.
This can make gift giving tricky, especially around the office. Luckily, your boss has already implicitly told you what he or she wants for the holidays.
So What the Heck Is It?
You. And not in a creepy, call-the-lawyer type of way. Your boss hired you for a reason – and that is the key to giving. Gifts are a form of communication, reflective of how you present yourself and what your personal brand is all about. One of my personal and professional objectives, for instance, is to be the best part of someone’s day. I want to make sure that whatever the communication – a card, a gift – it is the best part of the recipient’s day.
How do you do that? Think about your unique selling proposition. What is it that you bring to the table? What made your employer say, “Sure, we’ll go with this one.”? Maybe you’re known as a quirky, creative person with a unique sense of humour. When you’re looking for gift ideas for your boss, use that personality and talent to guide you.
Because gift giving is communication, you always have to be cognizant of your audience. What do you know about this person? What’s going to make his or her day? And – to tie it to your personal brand – what is about you that will help achieve that?
That was Easy
Say you’re the kind of person who gets things done. Taking work off of your boss’s plate and making things happen is an essential part of your brand. When your boss assigns you a project, he doesn’t have to worry about it. For instance, I always had a stack of Staples “That was Easy” buttons that I’d give with a little note.
Why not give one to the boss? Whenever you go into his office with something you’ve accomplished, he’ll hit the button. That was easy! That always brought a lot of joy to people – and why not build in some levity to the workplace?
Be the Best Part of Your Clients’ Day
Gift giving comes down to this: think of your audience. What’s unique about them? What are their needs? And what talent, trait, skill, whatever do you bring to the table? The same principles apply regardless of to whom you are giving gifts. For instance, a lot of effort – and hair-pulling – goes into choosing the right gifts for clients. Even deciding which card to send or what to write in it can be a harrowing experience.
Keep this in mind: just as your boss selected you for a reason, your clients chose to engage you and your firm. Why? What made you different? What need did you fulfill for them? A gift that reflects that unique value proposition is always going to be well received.
To make sure, keep these “rules” in mind when giving gifts in a work environment:
• Never include a business card! Ever. You don’t want to appear as though you have ulterior motives, that your gift is a sales pitch.
• Be authentic, and sincere. Remember, a gift isn’t just a gift; it’s a reflection of your brand. You want to convey the message that not only is your gift genuine, you are.
• Keep it simple. Elaborate gifts are often inappropriate for boss or client. It can be seen as overly familiar, blatant attempts to curry favor, or just plain weird! But hey, if “weird” is part of your brand….
• Add value. How can you be the best part of the recipient’s day? Maybe you give a Christmas survival kit with a little compilation of places to shop, gift suggestions for the hard-to-shop-for people on their lists, and, perhaps, a gift card to a coffee shop or favourite store. And holiday M&Ms. A few tools to get through the holiday season is both thoughtful and appreciated.
I may have overstated about thought not counting. It does – when you’re considering your audience and your own unique selling proposition. After that, though, the thought’s not going to cut it! The gift has to be reflective of your brand and its value to the recipient. That was easy!