Can you believe it?  Here we are in the midst of the holiday season.  Where as this year gone?

And it’s been another tough year for small businesses.  For many of us there is very little left in the budget for giving gifts to our customers.  Yet, it’s always nice to show your appreciation for their business during the holiday season. You want to give something the recipient will enjoy and appreciate, and that is affordable.  Trying to determine what that “something” is causes gift-giving anxiety.  Before you start shopping for the right item, let me share some business gift-giving tips.

Accepting Gifts.  First, find out whether your customer or client can accept gifts from vendors.  Some company’s prohibit employees from accepting gifts while others only allow them to accept a gift under a certain dollar amount.

Consider Interests.  Consider the customer’s interests, likes and dislikes.  For example, giving someone specialty coffees who doesn’t drink coffee won’t make a good impression. The same is true for alcohol.  Many corporate gift companies offer customized labels for fine wines which can make a great gift, but not if your customer doesn’t drink.

Don’t be too personal. Avoid gifts that are too personal because they can easily be misinterpreted.  A friend of mine received a bottle of perfume from one of her professional services providers and she felt so uncomfortable she switched companies.  Gag gifts are also a huge “no-no”.    You may think the gift is funny, but your customer may not see the humor in it and instead be offended.

When possible, personally deliver your holiday gift.  Personally sign the gift card instead of using a pre-printed company card.  Keep in mind the holidays season consists of different religious celebrations so don’t make assumptions about your customers.  Sick  to the general “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.”

Saying thanks and showing appreciation is the reason to give your customers holiday gifts.  Certainly, a gift certificate is a nice choice as long as it’s for something the customer enjoys.  If I were your customer, a gift certificate to Pet Smart would be a huge hit, but one from Starbuck’s might wind up being re-gifted because I’m not a huge coffee drinker.  The price you pay for your customer’s gift isn’t as important as the thoughtfulness of your selection.

A couple more things you may want to consider for your holiday gifts are charitable donations and/or a business lunch.  Donating to your customer’s favorite charity in their name is an excellent way to say thanks during the holidays.  Also, a nice holiday business lunch can be a good choice too.  After all, in today’s 24/7 world, sharing our time with friends, family and customers can be the best gift of all.


AvatarSusan Solovic

Susan Wilson Solovic is an award-winning entrepreneur and journalist, author of three best-selling books, multi-media personality and contributor to ABC News and other outlets, public speaker and attorney.