With all the upheaval in our corporate worlds, we could all use a little extra love! A pick-me-up delivered to an office mate or a valued client who's helped you through these past few months can really show your appreciation. But choosing the perfect gift is a balancing act between professional but not boring; interesting and useful but not over-the-top; tasteful but affordable; connected to you as the giver, and something that stands out from the crowd.
Look at this as a great opportunity to get to know your client better! Ask questions, show interest in their daily life, and find your common interests. Pay attention when they’re sharing personal information or when they’re talking about life around the office. This not only turns into gifts they’ll appreciate but it translates into a better relationship which is great for business.
Before picking something generic out of a random online site, though, try these ten ideas to help find the ideal gift that strikes just the right balance between interesting and professional.
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Before picking something generic out of a random online site, though, try these ten ideas to find the ideal gift that strikes just the right balance between interesting and professional.
- How long have you known each other?
If this is a brand-new relationship, keep your gift ultra-professional such as food or something they can share with their office. In this case, choose something with your logo or name (but make it useful!) to reinforce your budding new partnership.
If you’ve worked together for a long time, they don’t really need a branded item from you (unless it really fits their hobbies or office) but instead will appreciate something they know you’ve personally picked out for them.
- Go for a broader reach.
Consider looping in their employees or even their family (if you’re close enough) and gift them something they can share like a big collection of snacks, a pizza party, or a box of games and snacks they can play with the kids over the holiday break.
- Make a connection.
If you have a cause in common or you know their company has a favorite charity, consider donating to that charity in their name. Even better, share a donation link on your own social media (if it’s something you also believe in). Just remember to stay away from political, religious, or controversial causes.
- What Do They DO?
This one takes a little investigation (aka getting to know your colleagues)! Learn about their hobbies and outside-of-work activities. Tailor your gift around that. If you’re unfamiliar with that hobby, ask around or visit the social media page of the big brands in that space. Hint: this is one time when a branded golf tee will work!
- Brighten up their everyday life.
Is there a fun or unique restaurant near their office (or near a work destination they’ll soon be visiting)? Send a gift certificate or have a special delivery sent in.
- Experience matters!
Consider an experience giveaway – try an escape room or one of the “sip and create” art class studios. These are great for team building. Even better if you can join them!
- Choose quality.
If choosing a gift delivered from a third-party, make sure they are a top-notch company with great customer service if something goes wrong. Run a test order to yourself first.
- Get some social proof.
Look for share-worthy items and you may get a shout out. Be sure to include a card or note with all your social media handles so it’s easier for them to find you. If appropriate, post a thank you on your pages to your favorite clients too.
- Don’t overdo it.
Be intentional with branding your gift and choose something they want and need. Don’t just send them another knick-knack with your logo on it that will only collect dust in their desk drawer with all the other trade show giveaways.
- Make note.
Always include a personal, handwritten note or send a follow up note if ordering third party. Include your thanks (of course) but be specific in calling out your favorite part of the past year and express your hopes for the coming year.
How much should you spend . . .
Start by setting your business overall holiday budget (yes, even if you are a solopreneur!). Typically, businesses set aside 1.5% of yearly income to cover all holiday expenses – not only client gifts but employee bonuses, parties, travel, and donations. Once you know your budget, allocate it accordingly, giving the most to your largest, anchor clients but saving a little for smaller, first-time clients. If you can’t afford a gift, at least send a handwritten card.
Ask before you spend! Many corporations and all government agencies have employee gift acceptance policies based on value. If you’re unsure, check with the HR department for guidelines before selecting a gift.
Time Delivery Just Right.
If you're gifting during major holidays (Christmas or New Year's Day), keep in mind most corporate offices are deserted during those weeks. Make sure your gift gets there in time to be received! If you’d like to really stand out, wait until after the New Year to deliver your gift – this works especially well if you’re sending something health and wellness related. Just be sure to include a fun note explaining why you waited (as opposed to just being late!).