It’s that time of year where we start planning our holiday greeting card lists and reflecting on what has hopefully been an excellent year. This time of year, I’m often asked if you should give gifts or send cards (or eCards) to your most valued clients and alliance partners.
And, if so – what do you give those clients and partners that mean the most to your business? A standard wine basket? Promotional items?
Gift giving – done well – is personal, as is your decision to do so. Over the years, my approach has been to do what feels right that particular year. Some years, I haven’t done anything. The year my mother passed away in October, the holidays were unbearable, so I didn’t give anything to anybody but my immediate family. Other years, I’ve splurged.
When I give a gift or send a card, it’s because I want to show how much I value that client, employee or partner. It comes from the heart, which might sound odd in business, but this time of year is all about heart, so why not show it?
The best gifts are expressions of you. It’s not the cost of the gift, but the meaning behind it that matters. I usually include a handwritten note or send an email (yes, an email) that shares why I chose that gift. This gives the gift special meaning for clients.
Need a little inspiration for gift ideas that brighten up the holidays for your clients and partners?
These 6 gift ideas come from some of my favorite gifts that I’ve given. Let them inspire your own unique expressions!
- A gift in support of charity. Last year I sent baskets from the Women’s Bean Project that supported both women who were learning how to earn their futures and Colorado where we are based. I can still taste the soup and cornbread. Yum.
- Something from a family vacation. One year I sent these beautiful mantle clocks from this little shop we found when we got lost on a side-street in a small town in Tennessee on the way to the Smokey Mountain National Park.
- Something unexpected. Another year, I sent several shopping bags from National Parks we’d visited throughout the year. This one was one of my favorite parks. (Yes, I’m a big National Park lover and I like to share the inspiration I get from them!)
- A special memory. Growing up, my father’s hobby was orchids and exotic plants. We had a greenhouse attached to the house. For several months before Christmas we had to walk through the narrow, winding, crowded greenhouse in the dark so that his poinsettias would bloom. When I sent poinsettias to my clients, I shared that special memory with them.
- Trinkets. Then there was the year I gave cute little inexpensive wind-up desk toys that were just plain fun. They came from a small candy shop where we spent time talking with the owner about the challenges of selling trinkets in small-town America and his creative sales strategies. We still play with them at company meetings!
- Something personal. Sometimes, I send a copy of our family Christmas letter and family photo. This lets people feel like they are a part of our inner circle, which is one of the best expressions of appreciation you can give. It has a few photos and shares our top 12 lessons learned from the year.
Ultimately, you get to decide how you want to share the holidays with your clients. Yes, you could choose to send expensive gifts, but sometimes the gift that gives insight into who you are makes the best gift of all. After all, what are the holidays without a little personal touch?
Tell me, what have been your favorite gifts to give – or receive? Share your answer in the comments below. I’m always looking for more ideas!
P.S. If you are lucky enough to receive a gift, send a quick thank you. If nothing else it’s acknowledgment of receipt – and everyone appreciates knowing that you received their gift.