When the snow starts falling and the Walmart speakers start fa-la-la-la-la-ing (okay, that was back before Halloween, but still), then you know it’s time to start thinking about how to show your appreciation for your suppliers and employees with a few well-thought-out gifts. After all, showing gratitude is among the number one ways to foster better relationships with suppliers and employees alike, and gifts are a common way to share the sentiment.
But gift giving in business is a careful dance. You want to do something personal, but not too personal. You want to give something merry or even traditional but not exclusionary or politically incorrect—the Jewish vegan rep for your supplier that’s helped you no less than 50 times this year may be a little off-put by your summer sausage and smoked cheddar gift basket with its big “Merry Christmas!” adornment, even if she knows you mean well.
Then, there’s the dreaded taxes. Keep your gift-giving in check so as to not incur any unexpected visits from the IRS from anyone involved. And if you’re giving to individuals with the hopes of writing the gifts off as deductions, then you have a $25 maximum to think about. And the de minimis fringe benefits rule, especially if you’re giving small branded items.
If that wasn’t enough to make you rethink your gifting strategy, this year you have something extra special to contend with—Covid-19. The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the business world to its core as millions around the globe are infected and holiday gatherings are already a source of concern as infection rates spike in response to Thanksgiving events. In the midst of a global pandemic, easy fall-backs like gift cards to favorite shopping centers or restaurants can come across as foolish, callous, or even offensive to recipients who are trying to responsibly social distance this holiday season.
So, what’s left? Here are some ideas for last minute corporate gifts that are Covid friendly, inasmuch as is possible.
The Classic Company-Branded Gift Gone Viral: Custom Hand Sanitizer
If there’s one thing everyone can use right now, it’s sanitizer. Now that the shelves are not so bare and manufacturers have bolstered their reserves for a study influx of orders, hand sanitizer is a pandemic essential that is reasonably easy to come by, relatively inexpensive, and says, “Hey, we care about your health and safety. We hope our company helps you get through another day of this craziness unscathed.”
Just like the pens, magnets, and water bottles with company logos that we all know and love, there are a ton of different options for company-branded sanitizers—from spray pens to squeeze gel to credit-card shaped designs, wipes, and keychains. You can get 500 bottles of custom-branded sanitizer for less than $400, so it’s pretty affordable too, which is great considering many business budgets are looking a little frail with such huge hits to the economy and global uncertainty.
Running low on time? Get unbranded! Any brand! Right now, I don’t think anyone’s going to toss your sanitizer gift aside because it didn’t (or did) have a logo. This stuff is important right now, and you can’t go wrong with it.
Work From Home Accessories
With so many businesses switching to full remote work, employees are making major adjustments to their home environments (especially since coffee shops are not so much an option right now.) Anything that boosts focus, ergonomics, or efficiency is a great way to show your appreciation.
Everything from ergonomic cushions and monitor risers to more expensive gifts like ergonomic chairs and standing desks can help your recipients feel a little more cheerful throughout the day. Things that make the “new normal” easier to cope with are a positive in our book.
Gift Cards That Encourage Staying Home
Gift cards are still a viable option! Replace the buffet cards and mall certificates with e-gift cards that both encourage recipients to stay home and also don’t require physical transmission. You can send a digital gift card from Amazon to anyone’s email. Instacart also just launched their gift card options, and who couldn’t use groceries? Last I checked, we all eat.
Keep these people who work hard to make your business thrive out of the aisles for a day so they can get their snack on while they binge-watch Netflix without having to worry about the treacherous trek out into public. Bonus: When you give Instacart, DoorDash, and similar gift cards, you help bolster your local economy and keep more people out of the stores, helping to flatten the curve in your area. Another option is to give gift cards to restaurants that are available locally that offer contactless delivery.
Whatever you choose to give your employees and suppliers this holiday season, we wish for you and yours to stay safe and stay healthy. We look forward to you joining us in the new year.