Fortunately, that's easy to fix. "Ask. Accept that you are not a mind reader," says Robyn Freedman Spizman, a self-described gift expert based in Atlanta and the author of When Words Matter Most: Thoughtful Words and Deeds to Express Just the Right Thing at Just the Right Time (Crown). "Ask people about their likes and dislikes and you'll get an earful." Be coy here - don't directly inquire into gift preferences. But do ask about hobbies, beloved books, and favorite participatory sports. Most of us love talking about ourselves to an interested audience.

The Budget Dilemma
Complication number two with business gifts is that they must be inexpensive. Twenty-five dollars is the IRS limit for tax deductions, and, says Zoller, that's exactly what many organizations will budget this year, not a penny more. "This year will be conservative, with most gifts running from $25 to a maximum of $150. In recent years, $150 was nearer the average, but this year we'll see tighter spending." Anything more - the gaudy or indulgent - just seems out of place in today's hardscrabble work world.