Gift Giving and Goodwill
By Lolita Villa

The holiday seasons are the perfect time to network - what with the parties, the gatherings, and endless charity functions where you're most likely to bump into the next client or working partner you might have next year. However way you're doing it, just make sure that you don't miss out on this opportunity to spread goodwill, whether to your colleagues at work or to your existing clients.

Gift giving is the perfect way to spread the yuletide cheer, and it's also one of the most effective ways to market yourself. According to Priscilla Y. Huff, author of More 101 Best Home-Based Businesses for Women, several surveys indicate that more than 50 percent of businesses use the holiday season to market and promote themselves, strengthen client relationships and extend goodwill in their communities. It's also the perfect excuse to break the ice with that grouchy co-worker of yours, get into a more relaxed atmosphere with your boss, or just simply let your colleagues bask in your thoughtfulness. Remember though, that you should spend the right amount - don't spend too much to the point of doing so in bad taste, or too little to appear cheap. Here are a few gift suggestions to help you out:

Office supplies: you can never go wrong with calendars, pens, paperweights, calculators, alarm clocks, or leather organizers. Useful gifts make the best choices for office giving. Not only are you being thoughtful, but you're also contributing to a more productive work life.

Food: the holidays are a time for festive celebrating! And this means spreading good chow all around. Prepare food baskets, chocolate or other candy, keso de bola, gourmet coffees (try mint and other exotic flavors), red or white wine, special nut mixes, sweet ham, and the ever- classic fruit cake. Christmas cookies, herbal teas and other baking goods you can make and package at home is good too! Boxes and wraps for your gift packaging can be bought cheap at places like Divisoria or Tutuban, so start shopping.

Personalized items: this is a great way to make people feel special and to make sure they'll remember you all year long. A person's favorite book, a collection of favorite songs on a CD, videos, calling card-business card combo, subscription to favorite trade publications, special plants suitable for office climates, are only some of the things you can give to special clients. This takes work though; to be successful, you need to keep a personal database on the likes and interests of the recipient.

Shows: it's a season of concerts, variety shows and other performances. Two tickets to see the a play, a basketball game, or to a Christmas musical performance will always be received with great excitement, provided that the recipient will be going to a show that he or she likes. Make the proper investigations before giving, to make sure that your gift won't fall into the wrong hands.
Christmas cards: If you can't afford to buy gifts this year, a card will be more than enough. Your thoughtfulness will surely not go unnoticed. Just make sure to make it personal by signing the cards yourself. Some people scan their signatures and print them out on to cards en masse. However way you do it, just remember, it's always the thought that counts.

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