Amy says: I will admit that during the dotcom heyday, we agencies were very spoiled with Razor Scooters, margarita blenders and the occasional Xbox as a holiday present. We never complained back then. But times have changed -- and so have we. And I'm not just talking about the economy.
In many other industries, and in traditional media, gift-giving is common practice. It represents a simple courtesy and a token of thanks for partnerships throughout the year. The gift-giving should not be extravagant as not to be interpreted as bribes (there, I said it). Maybe you have lost sight of the true holiday spirit that this tradition represents.
I agree that too much chocolate is not a good thing and charitable donations are a nice alternative to summer sausage and shelf-stable cheese. But I'm not sure if the folks who we work with actually have much say in corporate gifting. For all we know, it's some guy in a cube, looking for his stapler, while he is sending a contact list to a fulfillment house to get the packages delivered by Dec. 21. Logistics can be an obstacle to personalization in this case.
Next year, instead of complaining about what you are getting or not getting, why not give instead. I know you don't have an expense account to send out presents but a nice word of thanks, a return phone call, or a nod of appreciation to your vendor partners will mean a lot to them. That happy feeling you give to them will come back to you in spades -- and that beats any box of chocolates.
I'm not sure how vendors actually handle their end of year client relations but we are lucky they don't keep a list like Santa does. Do you think you would make it onto the nice list of most of your partners? Jason, am I being naughty or nice here?
Jason says: Bah! Humbug! How about cash? Or maybe we could come and paint your house? Would that be acceptable to you? Seriously, as a recipient of many un-gifts myself (I once received a Snuggie), I feel your pain.
Though you may feel that nobody put any thought into your gift, I can assure you they did. There were definitely a few senior people involved, sans staplers, in making sure that the holiday presents were of a certain quality and they represented the giver in the best way possible. And the gifts most certainly had to fall within a budget, as well as being appropriate, professional, special AND generally appealing all at the same time. While some may think the Beer-of-the-Month Club is sheer genius, others may not. While iTunes may sound like a no-brainer to you, some people find it impersonal -- and many CFOs think gift cards are like sending cash and refuse to do it (I am sure there is an accountant type out there who can comment on that below).
Those of us who give want to choose gifts that are well-received; the last thing we want is to look foolish. The fact is, I have loved some gifts that my team has sent out over the years - others, not so much. Regardless of the actual gift, though, I have always wanted the recipient to know that we genuinely value their relationship and look forward to more in the following year. It is our way of saying "thank you."
So, to those of you who received a "C" gift (a bucket of popcorn), we appreciate you and look forward to expanding our relationship. To those of you who got the "B" gift (tower of treats), remember that it is the thought that counts, enjoy it or put it out at your holiday party, and send a "thank you" note. Otherwise, next year you may get a piece of coal stamped with the ole company logo. And to those lucky few of you who garnered the "A" gift, I look forward to having you join me at the Super Bowl.