How should my corporate gift giving strategy change during COVID-19?

For many companies, the majority of employees are now working from home. Because of this change in location, corporate gift giving will completely flip this year. First, companies need to locate their clients and employees, and determine how best to send them gifts. Gift item categories that are pandemic-friendly will get sold out early, so timing and planning ahead are key.

With employee morale at an all-time low, this article will address how and why this season's corporate gift giving process is different, and how to address the who, where, when, why, and what of your gift giving strategy during COVID-19.

The statistics say...

It's no secret that COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on the workforce in these last 9 months. Prior to COVID-19 hitting the United States, only 7 percent of employees were working from home consistently. According to SHRM COVID-19 Research, it was reported in June 2020 that a whopping 64% of employees worked from home. A survey concluded that 74% of companies expect to have some employees continue to work from home after the pandemic ends. Currently, 4 out of 10 employers have shut down certain aspects of their business, sometimes leaving 2 out of 3 of their employees experiencing depressive symptoms.

These statistics are a true sign of how disengaged your employees and customers may be from each other. It's important that business owners and executives are paying attention to these numbers and the declining morale amongst their employees and customers. Without happy and productive people working for and with your company, you may be in jeopardy of losing business.


Your clients

As business leaders, we're always thinking about our goals, challenges, and how this pandemic has caused shifts in our forecasts.

The best way to plan your gift giving strategy for your clients this season is to think about their goals and the problems this pandemic has caused for them.

This is where you need to flip the lens and understand how your clients are struggling to:

  • Maintain company culture.
  • Offset decreasing sales numbers.
  • Shift operations and communications to meet remote needs.
  • Adjust the time required to implement.
  • Stay compliant with government leave requirements, and deal with an increased number of leave requests.

Your Employees

Working from home can be a huge shift for most employees who are used to leaving the house, picking up coffee, and heading into the office for the day - their whole routine has changed.

Now, they wake up, make a cup of coffee and head to the kitchen table or their home office - if they're lucky enough to have one - and open their laptop for a day stacked with Zoom meetings.

This shift can cause challenges for your employees, such as:

  • Feeling tired and worn down.
  • Having little interest in work.
  • Struggling with juggling work and home-schooling their children.
  • Feeling depressed or hopeless.

Not only are these issues horrible for your valued employees from a humanistic perspective, all of these challenges are also negative factors in their productivity, and therefore your bottom line.

Related: Managing Your Team Remotely


There's never been a better time to boost morale than now. Happiness raises business productivity in employees by 31 percent. 65 percent of employees haven't received any form of recognition for good work in the last year.

There's uncertainty in our world right now. Working from home, home-schooling children on different schedules while working full-time, dealing with ailing family members, and the inability to see the people you love in person during the holidays, are all straining us and those around us. There's fear and sadness to take into consideration. It's real and this is what people are dealing with.

Why plan your gift-giving strategy differently this year? Because times are shaky, and because it's good business. Click here or below to access our 2020 Corporate Gift Giving Guide!



Hopefully you know where your employees are, and chances are your clients are working from home, so it may be a new hurdle to capture their home addresses.

How do you find out clients' home addresses? Ask them! It's important to be open and honest with your clients as to why you're asking for their personal information. And let's face it, who doesn't love to receive gifts? You'll be surprised at how eager they will be to share in return for a sweet holiday present!

You can also launch a survey to clients. Ask them how they are holding up during the pandemic, and what their challenges are. This information can help you understand what they are going through and adjust your content marketing as needed. At the end of the survey, you can leave a section for updating their home or remote addresses if you were to send them a gift.

Hold onto this information after asking for their permission to do so. This is the first step in building your gift giving list in your CRM.


Timing is SO important when it comes to your gift giving strategy.

Holiday Season

The holidays are not the only time when you should be thinking about your gift giving strategy. At this time, all of your clients will be receiving gifts, and may be inundated with goodies. This may mean that your gift goes unappreciated. Also, around the holidays, you may find your favorite item is sold out - corporate gift manufacturers tend to have depleted inventories around the holidays. You may also find shipping delays as you get closer to Christmas.

That said, it is expected to give clients and employees gifts at the holidays. Consider being the early bird - Thanksgiving is a great time to show your appreciation to clients and employees.

Other Gifting times of the Year

It's the clever business person who identifies other times of the year to give gifts. Delight and surprise your clients with gifts given at alternate times of the year. The benefits of extending your gift giving strategy throughout the year far outweigh the downsides. Your gift will be the focus of your clients' attention, without other competing presents and baskets. You will also be more likely to have a full selection and full stock to choose from. Furthermore, faster shipping times will give you more flexibility in your timing and budget.

Different times of the year for gift-giving:

  • April - Administrative Professionals Day.
  • October - Boss' Day.
  • November - Thanksgiving.
  • Your company's founding anniversary.
  • Valentine's Day - We love our clients/employees!
  • Post-purchase or signing of a big deal as a "thank you."
  • Employee milestones, like work anniversaries.


There's a lot to think about when getting started with your gift giving strategy. It's recommended to work with a branded merchandise expert. What you need to think about in getting started is:

  • What are your goals?
  • How many gifts are you sending?
  • What's your gifting theme?
  • What is your budget?
  • How are you sending your gifts?
  • How are you packaging and wrapping your gifts?

Try to answer these questions - and if you are uncertain or need ideas, contact John Lamon - our gift giving expert. He can set you on the right track!

How to set Your Budget

When you are setting your gift giving budget this holiday season, think about what you would spend on in-person events like holiday parties or hosting achievement trips for your team. Find ways to offset those other morale-boosting efforts that cannot happen because of COVID-19 and spend more than you typically would on each gift.

The way gift giving budgets work is through identifying a dollar amount per person, which will include the actual gift, and also:

  • Packaging / Box / Tissue / Bag
  • Gift Wrap or Belly Band
  • Card or Note
  • Freight / Shipping

Once you set a budget per person, you can talk to an expert about how to make that budget go a long way. With corporate gifts, there's a perceived value that far extends the actual value of the item(s) because you're buying in bulk.

Remember, it's five times as expensive to capture new clients than it is to retain your current client base. So thinking about customer lifetime value (CLV) is a great way to identify a proper budget per person. 

One idea to help with setting budgets for corporate gift is to create a multiple pricing tier system. Creating a system like this will allow you to choose multiple gift options for different pricing levels of your clients and employees. Maybe you have clients who have done business with you for 10 years. Those clients may get your top tier gift, like a pair of Bluetooth headphones. This is a great way of personalizing your gifts while making the most of your budget.

Related: 5 Promotional Gifts That Leave a Lasting Impression

Trendiest Gifts During COVID -19

This season, the hottest corporate gifts are those that have empathy and health-related issues in mind. They fall into the following categories, but you can also check out our 2020 Gift Giving Guide for specific items:

PPe Gifts
  • Functional and demonstrative of civic responsibility.
  • Great for everyday employee items.
  • Low cost.
Technology Gifts
  • High perceived value.
  • Great for working from home.
  • People are sitting at their desks all day (think camera covers and mics, wireless phone chargers, etc.).
Apparel Gifts
  • Align your brand with popular and quality name brands (such as Under Armour, Nike, etc.)
  • High perceived value.
  • Cost effective.
  • Be mindful of sizing, gender, and climate.
travel gifts
  • Everyone wants to be outside.
  • Consider outside gifts like a travel grill, cooler case, or insulated bags.
  • Road trips and boating are huge now.
Drinkware gifts
  • Hard-wearing and environmentally friendly.
  • High perceived value.
  • Infinite options.
  • Extended brand impressions.

One last thought...

Think about how YOU would feel receiving a surprise gift from your business partner or boss this holiday season. Pure joy!

In the middle of the global pandemic, where nothing is certain, there is one thing that remains undisputed: EVERYONE LOVES GIFTS.

Our corporate gift giving experts here at Ironmark are prepared to help you build and fulfill your gift giving strategy this upcoming holiday season and beyond. All you have to do is start the conversation with us and tell us what your goals are. We'll handle the rest!


Written by Lynne Kingsley

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