Does Your Business Give Holiday Gifts?

Please Send Me Lou Malnati's

Every year during the holiday season, I strive to send thoughtful gifts to all my clients. And, it gets tougher each year not to spend a fortune while being thoughtful. Gifts can be to employees, clients, bosses, or vendors/contractors. There are so many ways to acknowledge your business partners; while it doesn’t have to happen during the holidays; it’s the time of year for me when I do it.

The Internal Revenue Service only allows $25/gift as a deduction. At the end of the day, it’s because of your clients that you actually have any income, so staying within that paltry limit is not feasible or generous.

For my clients with whom I’ve had a long-term relationship (average 8-10 years), I spend about $100. I begin shopping months in advance, and when something strikes me in a catalogue, I tear out the sheet and keep the page until it’s time to send a gift.  (I also send a referral thank you gift to peeps who send me prospects who become paying clients.)

I like to send the deliveries to arrive any time in December so people can enjoy the foodstuffs or flowers or something prior to leaving on holiday.

This year, I’m torn about what to gift my clients. I’m looking at:

  • Heifer International – I can purchase a few chickens or a lamb or even a quarter sheep or cow so people in underprivileged regions in South America can use the animals for their livelihood.
  • Wolfermann’s – I gave these astonishing muffins last year, and everyone snarfed. For families and larger offices, this is perfect.
  • Coffee, wine and cheese – I always look at these types of baskets, but I have to say, I received one once, and it was done up so prettily with a lot of empty colored boxes and tape. The items inside were cheesy.
  • Fruit from Harry and David – In the past I’ve ordered these (Fruit of the Month), but I was disappointed because the fruit didn’t match the order form. They were forever switching out the really good fruits for pears.
  • Kiva – I have been on the receiving end of Kiva, and what a great gift. You put money into micro-loans around the world, and the business owner slowly pays back the money with interest and you reloan the money. I have probably financed 10 business owners across the world. It’s a really cool service.
  •  Personal items – If you really know your client well, you can get a little more personal. I know one of my colleagues loves good tequila. She is also a fanatic for Himalayan salt. So, I found Himalayan salt tequila shot glasses; she thought they were candle holders and when I told her what they were, she nearly dropped the phone in excitement! That was worth it!

What do you gift your clients? Anyone have any good ideas, please?

 

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27 comments
gundamwing4132
gundamwing4132

Love the Kiva idea,  but does it have to be the holidays in order to give a gift? Sometimes many seem to feel that way.

 

I find that with my clients, a random gift on a non-holiday may be the most well timed.

Hajra
Hajra

I don't run a business and if we send gifts to our patients, we might be getting into a bit of trouble, emotional dependence on the therapist is a bad thing! But yes, I get a gift from certain people I deal with. My car insurance company sends me a pack of chocolates every new year, some send a book, or coupons for shoe shopping (yes, they can read my mind!). The best gifts - shoes!

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KensViews
KensViews

Years ago I came to the realization that all my clients, from a material point of view, have much more than they need. And further, the best way to celebrate the meaning of the holiday season is to give to someone in need in my client's name. Some years, if I could make the time, I did the research and donate to individual charities that are particularly meaningful to each of them. Other years, I pick a charity that has a resonance for me. This year it will be the Alzheimer's Association, in memory of my mother-in-law.

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

Why didn't you write this dang post in June?  :) 

 

OK, let's get serious:

 

1) If you're lucky enough to have a client that makes something that makes a good gift, you're really lucky. I used to write ads and radio commercials for See's Candies, which is a high-quality gift at a moderate price point. As a gift it was great, people love See's. It reminded people that See's was my client (which was pretty impressive to some people). And the people at See's really appreciated that I was buying product in bulk. 

 

2) How about a nicely framed photo of your client, your client's product, your client's storefront, your client's staff... something that's somewhat personal and fun. If you have more time than money, how about a free iMovie? Just make a little slideshow and set it to some corny music and post it on their FB page. (OK, I just completely made this up. But it sounds OK, right?)

 

3) This is the best... it will probably get you fired, but for some clients, that's what you want anyway, right? During the year, you 'borrow' something from their office. A cigarette lighter, a nice pen, a small knick-knack from their desk, an iPad Mini. They you "give" it to them as a holiday gift. It's a lot of fun, and if they fire you, you didn't want to work for them anyways... (*Idea stolen from the late great Lowell George, guitarist and singer of Little Feat.) 

KDillabough
KDillabough

One thing I know I don't need more of from businesses is CALENDARS. Whether they're full size, small attached to a magnet, can someone please tell these people that many of their well-intended gifts of a calendar end up in my blue bin?

 

Now that I said what I don't think is a good idea (only from my perspective of course)...I like to give something that is somewhat personalized/individualized. I note things down about clients about their hobbies, interests, etc. and attempt, wherever possible, to pick something up throughout the year that will be that little special something to give at Christmas. Maybe that's why I find this time of year so relaxing. I do most of my "Christmas shopping" throughout the year, when I see something that is just the ticket, and tuck it away.So of the things you listed above, I'm for the personal whenever possible. Cheers! Kaarina

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

First of all, I love the charitable gift. One of my consultants is doing this and I am happy.

Another one of my consultants gives crazy Japanese toys as gifts. They're fun, so they give fun. I really like that. Maybe @3HatsComm would be into something like that?

 

Girl do you want my CRAZY Christmas card? I mean it is really...uh.

3HatsComm
3HatsComm

I've had better luck with H&D but I usually send a one-time tower gift. It's hard - you do want the gift to match the client, so the better the relationship the more you put into the gift. (Like the glasses.) It's also tricky when you work with multiple people at the same location, individual gifts are harder, more expensive so I usually do a group office gift, which is why food, treat baskets work well.

 

Gone are days of little tech toys like flash drives and charity donations, what the client would appreciate? Not sure I have any other ideas (stuck in boring gift card mode) and I'm actually a little behind on my planning, so am saving a little something for a 'looking forward to NY' type thing. Will check out everyone's ideas, FWIW.

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @KensViews I absolutely love this idea, too, Ken. Thanks for coming by to say so!  I've done it in the past; perhaps once and thought again about doing that, too. Hmm; I may reconsider my silly foodstuffs and be more targeted with that kind of gift this year. Thanks!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @KDillabough And, you design and create that fantabulous jewelry! That has got to be a huge personal gift, eh? (EH?) LOL

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @jennwhinnem  @3HatsComm Heck yeah, I want a crazy Christmas card? Mail is mail. No one gets it...did you see what anyone can send me in the photo up top?  I'm easy!!! 'ZA!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @3HatsComm Thanks, Queen D.  As you can see you beat me here, and I have to go fix that mess in the first sentence. There. I'm back. 

 

Still not sure what to give, but you're right, the popcorn thing works in a larger office and they like it. 

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem

 @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing  @3HatsComm Well, what about this? The firm asked for names of local as well as global charities we support, and from there, they would decide. They had the parameter that it be a social justice issue that let people be heard. I think Heifer or Kiva are great because they're not so political. Otherwise, kids or animals. People respond to the eyes. That's how they get all that money!

Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR moderator

 @3HatsComm  @jennwhinnem I think the charitable gift has to be almost for someone you really know well. In fact, I think I'm going to give that to one of my clients based on this convo...she has everything and doesn't eat crappy food, either. I like that!

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