Great Gifts for Business Associates

Gift Ideas for Business Associates | Corporette

2017 Update: We still think these are some great gift ideas for business associates, but you may also want to check out our latest gift ideas for professionals.

What are the best gifts to give business associates and colleagues?  It still feels a bit early in the season, but I suppose that’s the best time to plan gift-giving… Here’s Reader R’s question:

Not sure if this topic has been covered, but any ideas for holiday gifts for fellow attorneys who refer you business.

Interesting!  We’ve talked about what to give your secretary for the holidays, and what hostess gifts are appropriate for work-related parties, but we haven’t talked about this.  For some reason I always think of alcohol (a nice bottle of a good liquor) or gift baskets as being work-appropriate business gifts.  For my $.02, I highly recommend avoiding soap (even artisanal soap) — I’m always mildly offended when I get that gift!

Readers, what do you give business colleagues?  What are some of the best gifts that you’ve gotten?

(Pictured: Rocky Mountain Goldmine, available from Hammond’s Candies for $49.50. Not included in the gift set, but amazing: their caramel-wrapped marshmallows.)




  1. Although I like to both give and receive booze, I don’t think that’s appropriate in this scenario unless you know the person well enough to know that they drink.

    • hellskitchen :


      Find out if they drink, and if possible, what type of alcohol they prefer. If you are going to go with alcohol, getting someone’s favorite bottle of whiskey or pack of specialty gourmet beer (or wine from a particular region that’s relevant to the recipient) shows far more thought a generic bottle of wine.

    • Boston 2L :

      This post just showed up for me – not sure why.

      I agree about alcohol. I find just a random bottle of alcohol (typically wine) to be a gift that says ‘I should get you a gift, but I didn’t really want to put in the time or effort.’ (This isn’t true if you are getting a bottle of something that means something to the person.) Further, with business associates, if you don’t know their favorite drink or even if they drink, you may inadvertently get alcohol for an alcoholic or teetotaler or get something that they don’t drink (those are obviously in descending order of how bad). I’ve worked places where clients and business associates give alcohol and it sits in the office for years. Honestly, those people would have appreciated a card much more.

  2. Royal Riviera Pears.

    Om nom nom.

  3. TO Lawyer :

    Some co-counsel/companies we work with send us gift baskets (great suggestion) or edible arrangements which are always a big hit because they end up being put in the kitchen.

    I think wine or chocolates are great for a more individual gift to an individual attorney but gifts that can be shared with the office are always highly appreciated.

  4. Anonymous :

    I have a question related to the hostess gift post Kat linked to above. Should I bring a hostess gift when my office’s official holiday party is at a partner’s house?  I would definitely bring one to a private/unofficial party, but it seems a little strange for a firm-hosted event.

    • At my small firms, people definitely brought a bottle of wine as a hostess gift. That was much less prevalent when I was at a big firm.

    • Late on this, but my parents host my Dad’s office every year for a holiday party, and about 100 people show up. It’s paid for by the company, but my Stepmother spends hours and hours preparing for it – decorating and planning, etc. People generally bring them a card and a bottle of wine, and I know they are appreciative of that. It usually stocks them with good wine for the holidays and well into the new year!

      So two thoughts – 1.) even though it’s hosted by the firm, there’s still a lot the homeowner does to prepare; and 2.) your hostess gift is probably very much appreciated, if you bring one.

  5. In need of guidance... :

    I know I’m overthinking this, but: I ran into someone (Person #1) who works for someone (Person #2) that I have had conversations about coming to work for. Person #1 knows about these convos and said something to the effect of: “shoot me an email and we can all go out to lunch.” I’d like to do this. My question is, how do I phrase this e-mail? Both Person #2 and Person #1 are extremely busy. Do I say something like: “I’d love to join the next time you’re all grabbing lunch.” (I feel like that’s maybe weird(?), like basically inviting myself.) Do I offer to take them out for lunch? Do I CC Person #2?

    Any guidance would be much appreciated. I know this is really not the be-all, end-all of conundrums, but I’m trying to keep myself in the most positive and professional light as possible. TIA!!

    • hellskitchen :

      “Person 1, good to run into you today. I’d love to take you up on your offer of Person 2, you and I getting lunch together one of these days and learning more about your work/team/company (whatever’s applicable). I have flexibility schedule-wise so do you have some times that work for you in the next couple of weeks? Looking forward to it, best wishes, etc etc”

  6. second interview questions :

    I have a second interview on Thursday that I’m almost sure is the final round. One person I will be meeting with was also a first round interviewer.

    I had a bunch of good questions about the business and the role for my first round, all of which were thoroughly answered over the three hour interview. Any advice for the type of questions I should come prepared with for this next round (or is it expected I might just have one or two)? I fear it’s bad form to be without some good questions, but I’m out of them!

    • Yay! I think the best gift for the holiday’s are FOOD, or else cake’s or cookies, and I prefer Crumb’s or David and Somebody if you use mail order. I have to watch what I give Lynn b/c she is young and she is watcheing her figure, but Madeline will eat almost anything (and alot of it) b/c she has a VERY big tuchus and saddel bag’s that she admit’s she has long since STOPPED worryeing about.

      As for the OP, if you are on your second interview, you can tell them it is THEIR TURN to ask YOU question’s b/c you already know you WANT to work there, and it is now up to them if they want you to come work “with them”. Always say “work with them” b/c the workplace is suposed to be colaberative, according to Deborah Spar. Also, speaking along these lines, whatever you do, if you are intervewing with a man who would be your senior manageing partner, NEVER say that you would enjoy working under him, b/c this is a sexueal reference you do NOT want to portray. FOOEY! Frank tricked me once into agreeing that I worked under the manageing partner. I was MORTIFIED when the potential cleint looked at me as if I actueally had sex with the manageing partner. FOOEY! And the manageing partner agreed, b/c we do have ONLEY a professional relationship. TRIPEL FOOEY for Frank makeing me say that. I have learned NEVER to do any doubel entener’s any m0re. So for the OP, good luck, and I hope you get the job!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I started at a new office a couple months ago. There is one paralegal who does the majority of my filings and one older attorney who is assigned as my “mentor” who helps me a great deal. I feel compelled to get each of these individuals a little something for the holidays to show my appreciation, but is it okay to only give them to these two? Of course, I’ve asked other attorneys questions and another paralegal helped me with some computer stuff, but my involvement with them is much less. Thoughts?

    • Anne Shirley :

      I wouldn’t get another attorney a gift for the holidays. For the paralegal, yes, fine to only give to the one you use primarily, just like with your secretary.

    • Yes, it is definitely ok to only give gifts to the two you mentioned. I also think it is fine to give your mentor a gift as well. I would include a card that says how much you appreciate their guidance and keep the gift more on the token/small side.

    • My mentor (a fairly senior) partner and I exchange Christmas gifts. I don’t do anything for anyone else (other than my secretary). I used to work for him a lot, now very little, but we’re still good friends. We do all sorts of presents – one year he got me ESPN 30 for 30 since I am sports person, one year an electronic picture frame, one year a gift basket. I’ve gotten him books, knit him a scarf, all over the map. This year he’s getting a cooking tool. It’s not about the money, but about getting something you think the other person would really like. So I would say if you feel like you would like to get something for one or two people you work closely with, feel free, but it’s definitely a unique situation and you shouldn’t feel obligated to get things for everyone, nor should you be upset if others don’t reciprocate.

  8. Any thoughts for gifts for your nanny (in addition to $$)?

    • anon-oh-no :

      im getting my nanny lululemon this year becuase she likes it. in the past, ive gotten gift certs to department stores.

      • Wildkitten :

        Lululemon has been making some very controversial statements lately that have been turning off even the most loyal customers. I’m sure she’d still love the gift – they make great stuff – but buying from them is an ethical question lately.

  9. kjoirishlastname :

    I work in local govt planning, and we get gifts from the local developers every year. They usually send a branded mug/water bottle/tumbler w/ chocolate. It is a nice gift–I have one mug on my desk for pens, and the tumbler is my go-to water consumption device.

  10. Aside from the usual pens, mugs and mousemats we occasionally get hampers from clients. We had a box of wine this Christmas from a client, that was defintely the best promotional gift we’ve ever received.

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