Dear Danielle: What Kind of Gifts Should I Get Clients for the Holidays?

Dear Danielle,

What kind of gifts do you get for clients? I know this is last minute, but I’m really stuck; my clients are new, and this is my first Christmas working with them. Any ideas would be welcomed!  —Donnamarie Needle, Time Saving Concepts

Great question with Christmas fast approaching! Whatever holiday you or your clients celebrate around the holidays, this is a great time of year to let them know how much you appreciate them. Here are some of my suggestions:

1. Get gifts that they personally will enjoy. As we get to know our clients, we tend to become more familiar with their personal lives and tastes. For example, one of my clients has recently gotten really into juicing. He loves it, but doesn’t have any juice “recipes” and has mentioned several times how he just grins and bears the taste because he knows how healthy and worthwhile it is. Knowing this, I decided to get him a beautiful juice “recipe” book so he can make all kinds of healthy concoctions that taste great as well.

I’m always jotting down clues to my clients’ tastes on their Client Profile Sheet throughout the year so when gift time comes around, I’ve always got ideas at the ready. (I know your clients are new so this advice might be more apt for next year after you’ve had time to get to know them personally a bit more.)

2. Give an experience. I’ve always preferred to give an experience rather than “stuff” whenever possible. People always remember experiences (and those who gave them those experiences) way more than things (that often end up at the Goodwill or otherwise being regifted if not chosen with love and thought).

The bigger the client relationship, the bigger the experience should be (e.g., retainer clients vs. one-time or occasional project clients). Remember, they’ve invested a lot in you and your service so give the kind of gift that is proportionate to that (or said a bit more bluntly–don’t be chintzy lol). Some ideas: special seats to the theater or sporting event. Membership to a museum, club or zoo. Dinner for two at a swanky or exotic new restaurant. A day at the spa or a book of massage certificates. With all the things to do in the world, the list is endless! The more you know your clients, the more you’ll be able to give just the right experience for each.

3. Buy your clients’ products or services to give to others. Years ago I used to work with the local retail market which included restaurants and clubs, hair salons and gift shops. I would often buy items or gift certificates from one client’s business to give to my other clients. I really loved supporting my clients’ businesses this way! Perhaps you have clients who aren’t necessarly in the retail market and in professional services instead? What kind of services, training or products do they offer that you could buy for other clients that will help them in their business and they’ll truly value?

4. Shy away from food gifts. You might be sabotaging someone’s diet or not know of their food allergies. If you do decide to give a food gift (the ol’ box of chocolates for example), at least make it uncommon. I absolutely adore giving chocolates from Christopher Elbow as each piece is little work of art. Every client I have ever given a box to has positively raved.

Another example: One year I was really into French food so for all my project clients, I made up little gift bags with an ink stamp of the Eiffel tower on them. Inside I added a package of my favorite Crepe batter mix, a wooden crepe rake and three recipe cards for both sweet and savory crepes. The clients I gave these to were delighted! And remember that creativity doesn’t need to cost a fortune–it cost me less than $10 each to put these crepe gift bags together.

One other thing I think bears mentioning is to refrain from giving your company s.w.a.g. (e.g., calendars, pens and other promo items with your company name and biz info printed on them). This is the tackiest! It’s so impersonal and self-serving, I can’t think of a worse kind of gift to give or receive. The holidays are a time to share your heart! Think of what the client might truly like and enjoy–not what will help promote your company (which actually will have the opposite effect if you give gifts like that).

How about you? What kind of gift ideas do you have to share? Please post in the comments!

One Response

  1. By the way, be sure and budget for each year’s client gifts using the ACA Pricing Calculator.

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