For exhibit and event professionals  

How can I be sure my gifts haven’t fallen into a black hole?

January 4, 2013 By Editor

I saw your dilemma on gift giving, and I have one of my own. Each year, I send out gifts to business associates. Less than half acknowledge receiving them. I can track the packages’ progress, but sometimes, the websites say “left at desk” or “signed for by.” Should I call the recipients to confirm they received their gifts? Bring it up casually at a later date? Or just forget about it?

— Jenna, PR Manager

It’ll take a little digging on your part

Jenna, it’s a mystery why people can’t spare 30 seconds to acknowledge receiving a gift, especially when not knowing if it was delivered can cause anxiety for the sender. That said, to determine what happened to your package, our readers suggest you:

  • Reach out to the recipient.
  • Be indirect in your inquiry.

Reach out to the recipient

If you have an ongoing relationship, there’s nothing wrong with calling a business associate to make sure he or she received your present.

A marketing support specialist does this as a matter of course.

“When I send a gift, whether it’s for the holidays, congratulations or other special occasion, I follow up with a phone call to the recipient.”

Be indirect in your inquiry

But if you’re not particularly close to the recipient and are uncomfortable with a direct approach, you can try a more roundabout method.

An events manager believes this is the way to go.

“Calling to ask about a gift almost feels like asking for a thank you. The next time you email this person, discuss all business matters first. Then, almost as an aside, write something like, ‘I really value our business relationship, and I’d be very upset if you thought I forgot you around the holidays. If you didn’t receive what I sent you, please let me know.’”


  • I think Jenna should just let this go, since it’s highly unlikely that someone who signed for the gift didn’t pass it along to the intended recipient. First of all, most people are honest and wouldn’t think of stealing, especially from someone at their own company. Second, even if the signer isn’t all that trustworthy, he or she would have to know the sender might call the recipient about the gift, and it would be very easy to figure out who stole it.

    What do you do when you send someone a gift, but he or she fails to acknowledge it?

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