No matter what time of year, corporate holiday client gifting always seems to be a topic clients are evaluating. What can your company do differently this year for client gifts or greetings? Do you need to continue past practices? Do you need to spend the money at all? Let’s look at a few options to consider:

Narrow your recipient list and get them something really nice.
This works if you have a few individual clients whom you know well. You know that Jack will appreciate high end golf balls emblazoned with his personal name or logo. You know that Kevin is a craft brewery fanatic and a special gift pack of local brews from your area will be a perfect gift for him. Shelly is a fan of all things coffee so a high end personalized thermal mug is going to be her best friend on cold winter mornings. Spend some time really thinking about the individuals you do business with and have a close relationship with and turn your thoughtfulness on full power. Perhaps you don’t have the opportunity to individualize each gift, but you want something really high quality for your VIPs. Visit with your specialty product suppliers and learn what your premium options are that have some mass market appeal and gift everyone on your list with the same high quality item. Make it something they will remember and appreciate for years to come.

Give your clients something uniquely YOU.
Depending upon your business, perhaps you have something you can create that has some scarcity or nostalgia. An architecture firm I work with has a blueprint of Santa’s Workshop at the North Pole that was developed decades ago by one of the founders. The detailed plan is a really neat piece that was given to a small number of people years ago, many of whom still remember it and ask to see the original print each year. I’ve seen businesses develop their own series of steins or pottery and release a piece each year. Company cookbooks and local interest calendars continue to be popular when the contents are genuine and have personality (a local bank producing a wall calendar with local history photos for each month). Being located in Wisconsin, it is actually common for companies in our area to send boxes of Wisconsin cheese and sausage to customers in other parts of the country. Many recipients actually enjoy receiving good quality local treats your local area may be known for.

Do something funny and lighthearted.
Look up funny corporate Christmas or Holiday videos on YouTube and make your plans now to create a good-natured holiday or year-end greeting. If your team is fun-loving, this could be a huge hit and something your clients, vendors, and the public may enjoy.  Spend money on production to be sure it conveys the lighthearted spirit as intended and is worthy of watching again and again.

Do something charitable.
Many firms forego spending on gifts for clients, but instead put the budget to use for a charitable giving drive. Holiday gift donations, giving to local public safety organizations, supporting humane societies, gifting nursing homes, or spending part of a work day volunteering can be a great way to express the celebratory spirit of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, or whatever the celebration at the end of the calendar year. Be sure to take photos of your team’s effort and share the story with clients, vendors, and even the media if it is appropriate to encourage others to give and to let them know what kind of generous spirit your team exudes.

Don’t do anything.
It is OK if you choose not to do anything. Business is business, and your providing an excellent service for a fair price is a gift to your customers. Sometimes your clients may prefer to know that you are sticking to doing what you are doing well and not spending lots of energy or resources on unnecessary items or pursuits. If you have many international connections the holiday season, gifting, and work can be somewhat awkward, anyway. It is perfectly acceptable to keep your personal traditions personal and your business relationships strictly business.

Timely planning will help ensure that your gifting strategy for year’s end is focused and purposeful, and maybe even fun.