Holiday Helper: 5 Tips for Better Client Gifting

Now that we’re in the 11th month of the year, with Thanksgiving fast approaching, the runaway train that is the holiday season is about to hit warp speed. The question is: are you ready for it? Have you started to think about what to give those special clients this year to thank them for their business? If the answer’s no, then it’s time to get cracking.

This season, whether you’re doing the gift search, assigning the task to a colleague or outsourcing to a corporate gift buying service, consider the following before hitting the ‘Buy Now’ button:

Wrap it up early.
This year, Hanukkah starts Saturday, December 24, Christmas is on Sunday, the 25th and Kwanza starts Monday, December 26. What that means for gift givers is that many of your potential recipients will be taking off for holidays all at roughly the same time, so the sooner your gift lands on their desk, the better. This year, shoot for an arrival window of Monday, December 5 thru Friday, December 16 – which means placing orders the week of November 28 to minimize expedited shipping charges. Push it any later and you risk having your gift sit unclaimed on the client’s desk till they return in January.

No fooling around…and get a second opinion.
Even if your client is the wackiest, most fun-loving person ever, it’s best to take the gifting high road and ‘keep it classy’ as they say. Gag gifts, no matter how well you may know the client, are simply inappropriate and can cast you, your company and your judgment, in a poor light, particularly should you have to defend the expenditure later to your CFO. With an elegant, on-budget gift, you’ll never have to apologize. Another thought? Consider running final gift choices by a higher-up or trusted colleague to get their thoughts before purchasing.

Nice gift, but don’t forget the incidentals.
Smart shopper that you are, you’ve found an amazing client gift that’s right on budget. Or is it? While the cost per gift may be right on target, add in gift-wrap, shipping, tax and delivery charges and you can easily miss (and exceed) the mark by a third or more. So, when you’re shopping around, be sure to add those ‘incidental’ charges into your calculations to keep your budget on track.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison.
Who doesn’t enjoy an edible or drinkable gift? More people than you might think – such as those with food allergies (nuts, gluten, etc), dietary, religious or ethical concerns, or are just back from rehab. The easy, no-brainer gifts of yesteryear – sweets, baked goods, alcohol – don’t necessarily cut it anymore, and sensitivity to the issues surrounding edible and drinkable items is key. However, if you know your client loves champagne or is a steak-loving Atkins devotee, then by all means go for it, but if there’s any doubt at all, then err on the side of caution and opt for either a non-ingestible gift or one that’s the healthiest you can find, such alcohol-free, nut-free, gluten-free, vegan and organic.

Some gifts keep giving.
For a gift that keeps on giving, consider giving a one that’s re-giftable. Truth be told, some re-gifting is virtually inevitable, so select gifts that aren’t customized, engraved or festooned with logos. Though your client might not actually use the gift you sent, they’ll surely appreciate the thought – and the shopping time you saved them when they pass your gift along. Now that’s a real gift!

Happy gifting!

Photo credits:

Kate Doyle Hooper

Kate Doyle Hooper

Since establishing her own company over a decade ago, Kate has produced just about every kind of event imaginable, from executive meetings and conferences to live music performances, mobile tours, fashion shows, celebrity gifting suites, and retail events for companies such as American Media, Bloomingdale’s, Conde Nast, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR, Hearst, Macy’s, Perry Ellis, Time Inc., Wilhelmina Models and Rodale, to name a few. Kate's editorial and advertising work has been published in Budget Living, ELLE, Fit, Civilization, Conde Nast Traveler, Esquire, Essence, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Men's Fitness, Men's Health and Shape, as well as on and

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