It’s that time of year again: gift-giving season. Sure, you could give a gift card, but if you want your clients to appreciate that you really know and care about them, you need to consider something more personal.
Think about what you know about each of your clients. Do they have a special interest? Have you discussed a favorite sports team? There’s certainly no shortage of teams (or sports) from which you can choose. How about a performer they would love to see? Do they have a four-legged family member whose photos are prominently displayed in their office?
Before you start to consider actual gifts, think about your budget. What is your total budget for all of your client gifts? It’s up to you if you want to spend similar amounts on all of your clients, or vary them based on their “value” to you and your agency. Keep in mind, though, you may have clients that know one another, so allocating different amounts could present a PR problem if they compare notes. Be thoughtful, but avoid “going over the top” – especially if your client relationship is new. You want to be sure your gift nurtures your relationship, so it continues to grow for years to come.
Below are some creative gift ideas you can give your clients:
Giving a food gift is a very popular holiday option, whether you want to shop in your local community or online:
- Harry & David has been offering premium foods and gifts for more than a century; although most of its retail stores have closed, it’s easy to shop online.
- Sister companies with equally delicious foods include Shari’s Berries, Fruit Bouquets, and Wolferman’s Bakery.
- See’s Candy celebrated its 100th anniversary this year; it is available in more than 100 communities across California and several cities in Nevada. Or, you can ship to your door by shopping online.
- Another popular candy choice is Ghiradelli Chocolate, which operates nearly 20 stores nationwide, including multiple stores in the world-famous Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco. The chocolate is also available at many retailers, including CVS, Target, Rite Aid, and Walgreens.
- Two popular online and mail order steak options are Omaha Steaks and The Kansas City Steak Company, both of which have been around for decades. You may be able to find online codes that offer discounts or added bonus items with your purchase.
- Prepared foods and other items from Williams-Sonoma are sure to be welcome by many of your clients; you can shop at outlet and retail stores and online.
- Eataly, an Italian food marketplace, has retail stores in Los Angeles and Las Vegas (as well as other cities) and offers some products online.
- If you want a gift that could be shared by a group, you might consider The Popcorn Factory or Topsy’s Popcorn; Dylan’s Candy Bar; com, or a visit to your local World Market or Costco.
- Zabar’s also offers tastes of New York online.
- You could consider California citrus from Pearson Ranch or California Fruit Depot.
- A coffee-making system from Ninja or Nespresso might be welcome by your higher-level clients. These are available online and at major retailers.
- Other food-related options include a charcuterie board from Amazon, Goldbelly, Crate & Barrel, or Harry & David, among others.
- If your client is a hot sauce fan, you can shop online for a gift set at a variety of retailers; or, consider a Make Your Own Kit from Heatonist, w&p, World Market, and Uncommon Goods.
- Don’t overlook a possible food gift for your client’s favorite pet: a Bark Box gift for a dog lover is always welcome.
- For the feline fan on your list, a catnip or laser tail cat toy (and other options) are available at com, as are gifts for other pets.
Alcohol gifts may not be right – or appreciated – by all of your clients, but others may welcome them. You can buy wine or alcohol in person or online – at regional and national retailers as well as local gems.
- Regional and national retailers: BevMo, Costco, and Total Wine or Wine Country Gift Baskets
- Local vendors with a good reputation:
- Santa Monica: Bob’s Market or the Wine Expo
- Pasadena: Monopole
- Orange County: Laguna Cellar or Hi-Time Wine Cellars
- Northern California: Lunardi’s (eight locations)
- Sacramento: Beyond Napa Wine Market
3. Other sources: Yelp! is a good source of comparative reviews, including information on the many local vintners across California.
4. Make-your-own gift sets are very popular, including gin-making kits from Williams-Sonoma and LaTienda as well as beer-making kits from Beer and Sharper Image. An online article offers reviews on a variety of home kits.
5. Additional alcohol-related gifts include a Cocktail Smoker (for whisky-loving clients) from West Elm or Mark & Graham, or a cocktail shaker or other accessories from Macy’s, Nordstrom, or Nordstrom Rack.
You can purchase holiday gifts in bulk for your clients, such as candy or cookies with your logo on the packaging. Or, go with something more personal, including:
- a jacket
- stadium blanket
- tracker (for keys or a phone)
- a golf swing simulator
- sporting goods (like golf balls)
Keep in mind some items require advance lead-time, so get your order in as early as possible – or be prepared to find a back-up gift at the last moment.
Food, alcohol, and logo gifts are not your only options; there are excellent options for non-food gifts, too, including:
- Plants – indoor plants seem to have gained popularity during the pandemic.
- Hummingbird feeders can be found online and at national retailers like Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Chewy.
- Custom holiday ornaments are available at Etsy, Grommet, and Shutterfly.
- An Electric Wine Opener is available online and at local and national retailers like Total Wine, Bed Bath & Beyond, JCPenney, among others.
- Go retro with a Classic Record Player from Cabela’s, Pottery Barn, Urban Outfitters, Best Buy, and additional retailers (both online and in-store). A miniature Bluetooth speaker can enhance their listening experience, too. You can find these at Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Bose.
- Another retro option is an instant camera from Polaroid or Fujifilm.
- A nice coffee table book for your clients’ offices might be appreciated. Go online to look for options, and then consider a local source for your actual purchase. You can also order online if you’re shipping to your client – although an in-person delivery is more personal. An October 2021 article describes the 25 Best Coffee Table Books That Double as Décor.
- Blankets like the “Thanks for Making a Difference” or “A World of Thanks” gift set from Positive Promotions can express an appreciation for clients’ business. The latter comes with a tumbler, too. Other mug and tumbler options are available through Corkcicle® or Hydro Flask® online and at select retailers.
- Whether you choose a jar, votive, tea light, gel, or other candle style, there are options available at Macy’s, Target, HomeGoods, Bed Bath & Beyond, and online.
- Apple, Bellroy, Shutterfly, Lands’ End, Amazon, and others offer laptop cases and workbags.
- An essential oil diffuser might be appreciated at your clients’ office or in their homes. The New York Times published a comparison in their Wirecutter column last year.
- For clients into fitness, a Theragun® Percussive Therapy device, roller, or other item might be the right gift choice. Shop at the Therabody website. Similar items are also available at Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other retailers.
- Your client might appreciate a portable LED Video Light or similar item with Zoom calls still taking place regularly.
- Advent calendars comes in all shapes, sizes, themes and designs. New York magazine published an article with a broad of options in November 2021.
- There are websites known for their unusual gift options, including home, kitchen, bar, bath, entertainment, and oddball gifts. You’re sure to find something for your hard-to-buy-for clients at:
- Uncommon Goods
- Hammacher Schlemmer
- Sharper Image
- What On Earth
- Vermont Country Store
Beyond local wineries, you probably have some outstanding sources for gifts in your community (or one close by). For example, consider these:
- Little Flower Candy Company in Pasadena is known for delicious treats
- Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena is among the nation’s most successful independent books stores and includes a diverse array of gift items, too (its sister store Book Soup, in West Hollywood is a great source for books of all kinds)
- Books, wine, and other goods are available at Vinovore in Los Angeles
- Gjusta’s in Venice is a deli, bakery, café, and market popular on the West Side
- Northern California ideas are discussed in Eat, Drink, & Play: 11 great Bay Area gift ideas from the Mercury News
You might consider making a charitable donation on behalf of a client. Countless deserving national, regional, and local charities would welcome your support. A favorite at Word & Brown is Providence Speech and Hearing Center based in Orange.
If you are unsure of what might be the right charity choice, look at your client’s workplace for awards of merit or other recognition for their support of a local cause, such as the United Way, American Red Cross, or others. You can look up charities on Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to find out more about their work, including what percentage of funds raised go toward charity versus operations and administrative costs.
Gift Card Fallback
If you don’t have enough information about your client to consider a more personalized gift, or you lack the time to shop, a gift certificate or gift card is still an option to consider. There are so many options to consider. If you’re unsure of the right gift card, you can purchase an American Express® or VISA® gift card. Or, maybe, a gift card for dinner and a movie.
Some retailers, restaurants, and other venues go all-out during this time of year and package their gift cards in unusual ways. Others may offer a bonus on purchases of certain dollar amounts. For example, you could receive a $10 or $20 bonus on a $100 gift card purchase.
What’s important is getting started on your budget and your purchases before too much of the holiday season gets away from you. Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Day will be here before you know it.