Should you Give Alcohol at Christmas?


As the Christmas season is upon us, AF Accounting is here to help small business owners navigate the tricky area of corporate gift giving. Last week we talked about corporate gifts in general. This week we take a closer look at a controversial gift – alcohol.

Why Alcohol?

 “Hey bartender, gimme a whisky!” “Martini. Shaken, not stirred.” These are just two catch phrases that show how popular alcohol is in pop culture. When you add in the tradition of drinking at weddings, birthday parties and sports night (and pool night, and games night, and girl’s night out….) you quickly realize that alcohol and social gatherings often go hand in hand. Since drinking (hopefully responsibly) is a routine part of many people’s lives, alcohol is one of the first things that comes to mind when it’s time to give out Christmas gifts. A nice bottle of wine for your employees and clients and you’re done with your Christmas shopping, right?

Not so fast.

Why Not Alcohol?

Not everyone wants a bottle of bubbly and some may be downright offended by it. Some religions, such as Adventists, frown on drinking and other people, such as recovering alcoholics, do not want the temptation literally gift wrapped and placed in their lap. Some companies may not support a culture of drinking (such as addiction recovery or therapy counselling firms) and it can be hard for a company to split a bottle of wine with all their employees – especially if they don’t allow drinking on company time.

The Basic Rule

So when is it okay to buy a bottle? When you are well-acquainted with the recipient and know their drinking preferences. This means, you when explicitly know the gift will be welcomed and it will not offend the recipient or those close to him or her. For example, if your manager confides in you that he only drinks socially when out with the guys because his wife is a recovering alcoholic, a six pack of his favourite beer to take home is not appropriate.

Other Ways to Give the Good Stuff

A trip to your local liquor store shows you shelves upon shelves of liquor from all over the world. If you have determined that your giftee would like a bottle, how do you choose? Don’t be afraid to get a gift certificate and tuck it into a Christmas card. That way he or she can choose for themselves, and if you have made a misstep (they recently went completely alcohol free for lifestyle reasons and you were not aware of this), they can still pick up alcohol-free mixers, stylish glasses or use the card to purchase a gift for someone else.

When in Doubt, Do Without

There are many social, political and personal issues around gifting alcohol. If there is any doubt in your mind of if the recipient would enjoy the gift, choose one the many other options available to you this Christmas.

More Help for Small Businesses

Are your Christmas gifts tax deductible? What if you give your employees a Christmas bonus or take your best client out for dinner? We help you with these questions, and more. When it comes to accounting for small businesses, give yourself the gift of peace of mind by partnering with AF Accounting for your tax, bookkeeping and accounting needs.

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