By Susan Guillory

All year long, your customers support your business by hiring you or buying your products. The least you can do is show your appreciation of them during the holiday season. Because everyone is in a giving and receiving mood this time of year, it’s a great opportunity to carefully select thoughtful gifts that will make your customers glad they do business with you. These client gift-giving tips will help you pick the best options for everyone on your list.

Gift Giving Basics

If you’ve never bought client gifts before, you’ll have fun doing it if you plan out ahead of time and start early. Waiting until the last minute will only create a headache for you as well as a logistical nightmare if you have to ship items before Christmas.

Keep in mind that not everybody celebrates Christmas, so rather than sending this as a Christmas gift, slant it as a holiday gift. Avoid cards or messaging that say “Merry Christmas” to avoid insulting anyone who doesn’t celebrate the holiday.

How to Budget

The real challenge is knowing what to budget for all of your client gifts. Obviously if you have hundreds of customers, you’re not going to be able to spend much on each one. In that case, a promotional item with your logo on it may be your best bet, or simply a really great coupon code for a customer’s next purchase.

If you only have a few clients, the way I do, one suggestion is to create tiers of what you will spend on each group of clients. For me, the longer I have worked with the client or the more they spend with me, the more I spend on their gift. Having two or three tiers usually gives you the opportunity to spend appropriately for each client relationship.

Once you have your budget, however, save money where you can! During the holiday season, you will see lots of promotions for free shipping or a discount off of purchases. Some sites may even discount your order if you order many of the same products in bulk.

What to Buy

If you know your customers well, you may be able to come up with ideas that are personal and fit each client’s preferences or interests. For example, if you know a client is a big golfer, you could get him a gift certificate for the local driving range or a golf related gift basket.

If you don’t know if your clients well, it may be easier and less of a hassle to buy everybody is the same gift. There are tons of gift websites where you can buy everything from a basket full of fruit or holiday treats (Harry & David is the old standby, but there are tons of other sites) to a gift card that you can designate how they use it, i.e. for a “spa day” (check out Giftly for that).

Each year, I strive to find really interesting gifts that I would love to receive from someone else. Last year, I went to a local shop that sells olive oil harvested in my area and sent everyone a gift box full of olive oil goodies. Thinking outside of the box and providing something that people will really treasure or use is a great way to make customers feel appreciated and inclined to continue the business relationship.