To Gift or Not to Gift: A Guide to Client Holiday Gift Giving

The advent calendars are out and the official countdown till the holiday is underway.  As you’re making your personal shopping list for all of the great items you’ll be gifting this year, perhaps you are also considering gifts for your clients.  Giving gifts can be tricky; there’s always the picky one, the one who has everything and the person who you kind of know but haven’t quite figured out their likes/dislikes.  When it comes to giving gifts to clients, there are certain tips you should keep in mind to make sure you don’t unwittingly tarnish your client/customer relationship!

What should you consider initially?

  • a guide to client holiday gift givingWho makes the nice list? Including every single employee at a client’s company may not be feasible and that is perfectly okay.  Consider giving gifts that can be used by the entire office or simply send a holiday card.  You certainly don’t want to make anyone feel left out or underappreciated but holiday gifts can be reserved for the client’s that you work with directly and have nurtured a long-standing relationship with.
  • Time. This time of year can get hectic with meeting deadlines you’re still expected to meet and of course providing superior services for your clients.  However, you have to pencil in gift preparation into your schedule.  If you’re shipping gifts or sending out holiday cards, make sure you allow for backed up postal transit times so your gift doesn’t get lost in the holiday mail abyss.
  • Your budget. While it would be nice to gift everyone a cruise to a tropical island, that may not be realistic.  Figure out who to include and what you’re willing to spend.

What should you gift as a gift?

  • Gifts that would get you a thumb’s up or the proverbial “Facebook like”:
    • Tickets to an event. Just don’t forget to make it a pair so they can bring a special someone along!
    • Locally-made gifts. Supporting small businesses or local, area artists make unique gifts.  There are tons of websites out there that can point you in the right direction of everyone from local farmers who have organic goodies to aspiring designers who have knacks for quirky, personalized items.
    • Gift certificates. If you have a client who is a big foodie or a cinema buff, consider gifting a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant group, nearby theater or spa center for them to enjoy whenever they want.  If you’re unsure, do a little detective work.  Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of their staff who may have more knowledge on their likes and dislikes.
    • Spirits. For the clients who are wine connoisseurs or enjoy a good bourbon on the rocks, if you know their likes then gifting them their favorite spirit is a solid choice.


  • Just as a gift can be great, they can also be really terrible. To keep your gift from going viral and start trending on Twitter, here are a few things that you may want to avoid giving this year:
    • Clothing. You’re not their significant other so skip trying to update their wardrobe.  This could go sour if you happen to get a clothing size that is completely off base or the client simply could detest your sense of style.  Rather than gift something that could end up at the local Goodwill before the day is even over, just don’t.
    • Inappropriately-humored gifts. Sarcasm or quirky humor is okay – when you’re in the company of close friends and family; not as a successful business owner interacting with your clients.  Yes, you may have a good rapport with them and joke here and there but let’s try to keep it professional.  It’d be a shame for you to tarnish your work relationship because you were trying to be light-hearted and instead inadvertently offended them.
    • Homemade baked goods. It’s a very nice gesture to put your time and effort into baking but sometimes this isn’t well received.  A client could have an unknown food allergy or just simply not like the item you bring.  It’d be a shame for you to spend a lot of prepping and execution time only for it to get tossed into the trash and deemed a “useless gift.”

With ample pre-planning and a bit of strategy, giving gifts to your clients can be as easy as giving to your loved ones.  A gift shows your clients that you value them and are appreciative their choice to choose you as their marketing provider; after all, it’s the thought that counts this holiday season.  If you get stumped, don’t sweat it.  You can always give McCauley Marketing Services a call and we’d be glad to brainstorm some ideas with you!