The year is nearly over, and that means it’s time for winding up client projects and taking stock of the year that has been. It’s also the time to go shopping for client gifts.
Many companies will give their clients - or at least their top clients - a gift over Christmas. It’s a nice way to show clients that their business means a lot to you, and that you value their continued support. But it can be really difficult to figure out exactly what would make an appropriate gift. You don’t want to risk offending your client or give a gift that they hate or don’t use.
It’s for this reason that corporate gifts have become increasingly dull. Chocolate boxes. Cigars. A bottle of wine. A hamper of preserves. While these are all nice gifts, they don’t really send the message you want.
Here are my ten ideas for unique client gifts this holiday season:
*Originally published 9/12/14. List updated 6/12/16.
1. A Subscription Gift
It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Subscription services will deliver something lovely to your client every month for the following year. What a great way to stay in their good graces.
2. A Home-Brewing Kit
Of course, a lovely bottle of wine or fine whisky is a very traditional client gift, but you are not traditional. You are the kind of company who wants to stand out. You’re going to give your favourite clients to means to an everlasting supply of wine or whisky with their own in-office brewing kit.
3. Sculptural Soaps
The traditional craft of soap-making is undergoing a resurgence, and with it has come a range of creative stores offering unique and wonderful soaps in all shapes and sizes. Treat your clients to beautiful bars made from all-natural ingredients from Craftsman Soap Co., or appeal to their love of rock with some studded soaps from Bath Sabbath.
4. Kindle Loaded with Books
Ebooks are the hottest thing to hit the book market since … well, since books. If your client is an avid reader, why not gift them the latest Amazon Kindle device. Tuck in a gift card or fill it with a selection of your favourite books in your industry.
5. An Ice Cream Truck
At the last office I worked at, we were all bent over our desks, furiously finishing off work before the Christmas shutdown, when we heard a familiar tinkling bell. An email flashed up on my screen. “Hey everyone. Our fab client has ordered an ice cream truck to park outside for the next hour. Come on down to get your free ice cream!” What a lovely surprise, and so welcome on a hot and stressful day!
If it’s the dead of winter where you are, you could send a food truck offering hot dogs, tacos or some other delectable wintery delight. Make sure they have options for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free.
6. Fortune Cookies
Who doesn’t love a glimpse into their future? Fortune cookies became popular in Chinese restaurants in America as a fun dessert - a crisp cookie containing a fortune or some lucky numbers.
Use Fancy Fortune Cookies to create your own custom fortune cookies. Tailor the messages specifically to your client and their market. If you’re feeling brave, you could add a cheeky, “You will continue to work with a fantastic agency” or “you will give your architect a 110% raise” cookie.
7. Frank Stationery
Who doesn't love beautiful stationery? Frank offer a range of gorgeous, practical diaries for 2017. These stylish little planners are sure to delight any client with a busy schedule. Even better, for each book you buy Frank Stationery donates a school book to a child in need. Charitable deed for the holiday - tick!
8. Tickets to a Fun Event
Clients spend so much time working in their business they often forget to go out, take a break, and enjoy the world around them. Why not encourage them to take some time to themselves over the Christmas season by purchasing tickets to a concert, play or production you know they’re dying to see.
Or alternatively, grab enough tickets so the whole office can go out for mini-golf or Yum-Cha.
9. Branded Cupcakes
Your client will find it pretty difficult to resist a selection of gorgeous cupcakes. You can hire a local baker to create a tray of branded cupcakes in a variety of flavours. Coloured chocolate discs or icing in the company colours create a Christmas treat for your client that not only tastes good, but shows them just how well you know their company.
10. A Donation to a Fantastic Cause
Don’t want to give your client something they’re just going to throw away? Want to emphasize your eco- or humanitarian credentials? Why not give a donation to a worthy cause in your client’s name?
Choose a charity that relates to your client’s industry or background, and try to steer clear of religious, political or controversial organisations. Kiva is an organisation providing funding for people in developing countries to pursue their own businesses, while Architects without Borders helps indigenous cultures to preserve and value their architectural traditions.
What were you thinking of getting for your clients this year? Leave those desk cluttering ornaments at the shop, and try something different this holiday season.