by Leo Jakobson | July 28, 2014
Giving corporate gifts can be something of a high-wire act. A growing number of companies ban employees from receiving them, and handing out the wrong gift is an easy way to damage an otherwise strong relationship. Still, corporate gifts are also a very good way to show your appreciation for clients, partners, and employees who stuck with you through the lean times. 

While Incentive's "2014 Corporate Gift IQ" survey found that slightly fewer companies are giving corporate and business gifts this year (74.2 percent, compared to 77.4 percent in 2013), the number of companies spending more on these gifts rose to 24.2 percent in 2014 from 19.9 percent last year. The number of companies spending more than $1,000 per recipient on corporate gifts grew from 2.3 percent in 2013 to 6.3 percent this year. 

2014 corporate business gifts bar chart

When it comes to selecting the right corporate gifts, there is a basic principle to remember: make sure you are giving people gifts they actually want. One way to do this is brand-name merchandise -- Maui Jim sunglasses, Apple iPads, and Tumi luggage were all mentioned several times when we asked respondents about the best gifts that they had received. Another way is to spend a little time selecting a gift that suits the recipient. A gift of a Lenox China bowl that also gave proceeds to charity was one respondent's favorite gift, while a teetotaler said that a gift of liquor was not at all appreciated. 

2014 corporate gift recipients chart

Above all, quality matters. One survey respondent mentioned receiving "a logoed pen that broke on the first click. That remains my image of the giving company." 

2014 corporate gift programs chart