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Holiday Gifts: What to Get Your Clients and Colleagues

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The holidays provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to reinforce their relationships with important clients. A small token of appreciation in the form of a holiday gift can help keep your company on people's minds. Gifts need not be expensive or elaborate. Remember, it's the thought that counts.

Some all-time favorite gifts are gourmet baskets full of nuts and chocolate, fruit-of-the-month club memberships and gift cards, but there are other options as well. To stand out from the crowd and wow your clients and customers, keep the following tips and gift options in mind.

Avoid taboo gifts. Holiday gifts for clients should remain professional. Gifts such as perfume and red roses can be misinterpreted. Gag gifts are also not appropriate. What you might think is humorous, your client might find insulting. Unless you know your client is a wine enthusiast or home brewer, stay away from alcohol.

Personalize the gift. Opt for gifts that reflect your clients' interests. Thoughtful, unique gifts will win favor and make you stand out. If you have a good rapport, you probably know a little about your clients' hobbies and what they're passionate about outside of work. If you have a client who golfs every weekend, send him or her a set of personalized tees. Or if your client is a coffee aficionado, gift a tasty, hard-to-find variety. I like to purchase several Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards and save them for special people. I’ll tuck one inside a greeting card and write the message, “Thanks a latte! I appreciate our friendship.”

Gift an experience. Some of the best gifts are the ones that can be used with family and friends. Tickets to a sporting event, opera, concert or ballet will provide your client a welcome break amidst the holiday chaos.

Related: What Not to Do When Taking Clients Out to Lunch

Donate to charity. If you have a client who seems to have everything, make a donation in their honor to their favorite charity. Send a handwritten holiday card and include information about your donation. Many of my clients are animal lovers so I like to give the gift of a goat, rabbit or pig by donating to the Heifer Foundation. (

Make your gift useful. There are a few basic gifts that are unanimously appreciated. A nice pen, organizer, iPad holder, personalized stationery, or business card holder will be highly regarded by any business professional. Business books are another great choice.

Buy for the group. If you work closely with multiple people at one company, purchase a gift for the entire office. A large gift basket with a variety of tasty treats can be shared by everyone and may help you make new connections. It's also more economical than purchasing individual gifts.

Related: Office Etiquette: The Rules of Saying Thank You 

Handwrite a note. The note you include with your gift is just as important as the gift itself. If you have cards printed, be sure to include a quick message in your own handwriting wishing each client a happy holiday. It will only take a moment and your client will appreciate your attention to detail.

Mail the gift early. Be sure your gifts are delivered to your clients before December 20 as most offices close for the holidays. That means you must place your order before or during the first week in December. If you know your gift will arrive late, delay mailing it by a few days and repackage it as a New Year's present.

What unique gifts have you given or received during the holidays? Leave your comments below.

Related: Master Your 'Mingle-Ability': 5 Creative Ways to Network


Jacqueline Whitmore

Written By

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).