That Gifting Time of Year
I worked for a while at a consulting firm that got the best gifts. There was the group that sent us ice cream each year, several unique flavors from a local (to them) shop. That always came in via special delivery driver, so we knew to show up in the conference room with spoons ready to go. Some flavors just had to be shared.
We also got cookies one time, right after the Cookie Monster parody of Call Me, Maybe premiered. So when sharing wasn’t quickly forthcoming (after all, they were good cookies), I started playing Share It, Maybe very loudly without headphones.
Food was always my favored treat, though it can be harder to send when I know my clients and team members are gluten free/sugar free/dairy free. We also got branded leather folders, pens, chargers, and other mystery items. Another favorite of mine was a video-card (think one of those cards that plays a song when you open it up, but this one showed a video). I liked it mainly because I could use the parts in other creative ways.
Donations: For business with a large but not always active client base, making a donation is often a choice, especially if part of the business’s goal is giving or the donation aligns with the business’s model. When businesses I work with make donations, those posts and emails always get more traffic, but that’s about it.
Branded Gifts: For companies trying to build a brand, doing something branded, especially if it’s on point or tongue-in-cheek can be memorable. The best one I ever did was a coffee mug, branded on one side with a clever saying on the other side. Filled with candy, of course. The goal was that the saying was clever enough that clients would continue to use the coffee mug, ideally while on zoom calls with other potential clients.
One note, if you want to have something branded, start planning in October if not sooner. Getting the branded items made and delivered will take longer than expected.
Custom Gifts: When you have a small client base that you know very well, tailoring the gift to the recipient is important. One year we had only a half-dozen clients that all worked on the same floor of the building as my little company. So we got them remote controlled helicopters. Much hilarious and memorable chaos ensued.
Similarly, I have a client who sent me a gingerbread house one year. She knows I have kids who would love putting the house together and snitching the candy, so it was a thoughtful, and much appreciated, gift.
Food: This is probably my main go-to. From citrus to cookies, bagels to baskets, hams to pecans, it’s hard to go wrong with food, especially when sending it to an office. Just get an idea of the size of the staff that might be sharing the treat to make sure there’s enough for all.
Cards: Many of my companies now send out Thanksgiving cards to beat the holiday rush. The holiday seems to many to be more American and less likely to ruffle feathers. Others strive to do something entertaining on their holiday cards, such as including testimonials from Santa Claus or bragging about their recent work at the North Pole (even choosing something secular here to have fun with doesn’t work for many people, so be mindful of your audience).
Whatever you choose to do for gifting, it will be an extension of your businesses brand. If you’re serious throughout the year, funny and playful can be delightful or set the wrong tone. Some clients are also barred from receiving gifts due to company gifting policies, so heartfelt notes might be more appropriate. Gifting, if done well, can be a great way to make the end of the year fun, thrill your clients, and build your brand.