Well, we're past Halloween so you know what that means: it's the holidays! For better or worse, the holiday season is already upon us, and for most small business owners, an anxious cold sweat comes with the end-o-year territory. And while there are countless issues to address at this time of year (i.e., fiscal year-end, year-end reporting, the tracking down of money owed, etc.), we're going to focus on something fun: gifting. Below are a few holiday gift giving tips that can help you get at least one thing crossed off your end-o-year to-do list.
Make a List
Given that we're talking about business gift giving, it's important that you make a list. Sounds simple, but doing so will help you stay organized. And as callous as it may feel, you need to keep your list tight. Not every vendor or client or service provider or employee should make the cut. If you want to your gift giving to be practical and have meaning, don't be afraid to slim the list. Ask yourself a few questions: "Who has been critical to your business' success?" "Which client or customer stuck with you through lean times?" "Who went the extra mile for you this year?" (Please note: accounting software engineers love cookies. Just saying.)
Know What's Deductible
While we certainly don't encourage tax deduction-motivated gift giving, it's something you should take advantage of. Using a U.S.-based business as an example, they are allowed to deduct $25 per gift recipient. So say a U.S. business owner buys three bottles of scotch at $75 each as gifts for three different clients. He or she can deduct $25 per gift, ultimately totaling a $75 write off. Ask your accountant or check your revenue agency's website for your country's particular policy.
Holiday gift giving (and the shipping industry that makes it all go) gets increasingly insane—in terms of cost and organization—the deeper into the holiday season we get. Set a goal to get your holiday gift giving done by the first week of December.
It's easy to send a standard holiday gift like candy or a restaurant gift card, but is checking a recipient off your list the main objective? No. You want to give gifts that have meaning. Think about your relationship with the giftee. What do they like to do in their spare time? What could make their life easier? What's their family dynamic look like? What brands do they seem to love? If you take the time, there's a good chance you know your gift recipients much better than you think. And meaningful gifts can yield long-term business benefits—not so much in a tangible way, but they really can help deepen relationships and trust.
If you're a small business owner, you're undoubtedly too busy for... anything else! If you have a junior level support person, this is a task worth assigning. Be sure to instruct them that everything needs to be cleared by you before purchases are made and gifts are sent.
Happy gifting! And don't forget to capture those receipts!