Corporate gift etiquette is subject of great complexity with a lot of aspects to consider. Is a gift going to a colleague or to a business partner? What kind of relationship is there between a giver and a recipient? What culture do both of them represent? We discussed corporate gift etiquette in Eastern Europe with Nick Kovac, Gift Baskets Overseas’ brand manager in Eastern Europe, and Olga Poltoratskaya, regional social media and content manager. After all, corporate traditions and what’s considered “bon ton” for business relations in the region mostly formed in the last two to three decades is sometimes still influenced by the Soviet past. So, let’s see if we find a lot of differences!
So, what are the most appropriate gift-giving holidays in a corporate setting in Eastern Europe?
Nick: There are quite a few. I would name the following:
- Corporate party;
- Professional day such as administrative professional day;
- State holiday;
- Personal event or a milestone: wedding, work anniversary, birthday, promotion and alike.
Natasha: That’s interesting! I’m wondering about the national holidays that you mentioned. If your business partner is in Eastern Europe, would is be fine to send a basket for a state occasion such as Independence Day?
Olga: That’s quite normal! It’s not the most popular occasion to send gifts or flowers, but certainly doing so won’t make you look ridiculous (learn more about celebrating Independence Day in Ukraine).
In terms of corporate gift etiquette in Eastern Europe, what is the best gift for a collective or a team?
Nick: These can be either small personalized presents or a solid basket with a bright, tasty treat aimed for the team celebration or the corporate event. With a formal banquet, in general, everything is clear: an effectively decorated set of various snacks, fruits, high-quality alcohol, or other drinks. A gift is a good reason to once again bring the team together, organize team building, and encourage informal communication.
Olga: Personal mini-gifts for subordinates can and should be equipped with personalized cards or some other signs of attention. This way, you show participation and respect for each member of your team. Be sure to consider such mini-gifts as if you received them yourself. Would you be pleased? If so, go ahead.
What is the best gift option from the team to a manager?
Olga: That’s a sensitive point. On the one hand, the gift must be quite valuable; on the other hand, in your choice you must not slip into vulgarity and not cause bewilderment. When choosing a gift, you should always ask yourself what the person will do with it later.
Accessories with brand’s logos are not a bad idea, but not always and not on every occasion. In addition, a rare leader does not yet have a collection of such gifts, both with logos and without them. If your team is just starting out in the business, the option with accessories is worth noting. If the organization is already many years old, move on to other ideas.
The best way is to find out what your boss is passionate about and make a gift based on this information. A professional spinning rod for a fisherman, a set of sable brushes for an artist, these types of things.
What about gifts from one business leader to the other?
Nick: A gift from a leader to a leader or an organization to another team’s director should be elegant in content, not too expensive and arrogant. That is, it should not look like a bribe, or an empty shell, or boast. You should not give accessories and souvenirs with the logo of your organization: to show your participation, a corporate postcard or a business card is enough.
Brandable accessories such as notebooks, writing utensils, table and wall calendars, diaries are all excellent business souvenirs for the organization’s clients, for employees, and for potential partners. The only thing worth considering: you should give a calendar or a diary in the beginning of the year. In spring and summer, no one needs such gizmos.
One can hardly call items with corporate symbols that one can use exclusively for work, gifts. If your gift is to please the recipient, avoid work items. If applying a brand to a gift is still inevitable, use, for example, the unique stamp on confectionery. Such a symbol will not oblige the recipient to anything, the dessert will remain a dessert, and the gift will not be shamefacedly lying in the back of a forgotten drawer.
What kind of gifts to avoid?
Olga: There is indeed a so-called blacklist for business gifts, although there also can be an exception — a request by the recipient. If a person wants to get something from the “forbidden list”, it’s okay to give whatever they requested. However, even in this case, it is better to present the financial equivalent of the selection with a postcard and a bouquet.
So, the blacklist of gifts:
- – Highly personal and intimate items, especially if your own corporation produce such products;
- – Perfumery and bath sets;
- – Personal growth books, fitness passes, and training certificates – such a gift can show a hint of disrespect;
- – Pets;
- – Fun shop nonsense gifts;
- – Discount certificates;
- – Inappropriate gifts in general: a box of chocolate with sugar for a diabetic, tickets to Spartak for a Zenit fan, a parachute jump to a couch potato;
- – Household appliances and household utensils.