Besides good taste, two things determine the appropriateness of a business gift: its cost and how personal it is. Cost is mostly an issue when giving to customers and clients, with the smell of bribery or favor-currying growing in direct proportion to expensiveness. Too-personal gifts are also out of place in business, including gifts between close colleagues that are exchanged at work. Consider carefully your relationship to the person to whom you’re giving and what he or she will think is appropriate. If you’re unsure, it’s always safer to err on the less personal side.
• Gifts that “show,” such as jewelry and clothing, are less appropriate than consumable or perishable items, such as food or flowers. (There are two schools of thought about jewelry: A gift of cuff links to a man or a pin to a woman may seem fine to some people, while others say even jewelry of this kind crosses the line.)
• Tickets to an event are appropriate, but airplane tickets are not.
• Gifts of perfume, roses, or lingerie have obvious romantic overtones and should never be given in a business environment.
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