Every year about this time (actually, much earlier than this, but for effect we’ll go with “about this time”), I run into the same conundrum: What do I get clients/colleagues for a holiday gift?
It’s a common challenge for vendors like me.
As I see it, we have a three options:
1–No gift at all. Certainly, holiday gifts aren’t a REQUIRED part of the vendor/client contract. But, it’s obviously always appreciated and a key opportunity to connect with your client or colleague. And, it’s the KIND thing to do (you know, Christmas spirit and all 🙂
2–Play it safe. High-end fruit basket. Nut assortment. Holiday sweets. We’ve all been a party to these kinds of gifts. A simple, and wonderful holiday gesture.
3–Make it personal. Whether you’re catering to the client or colleague’s personal tastes, or giving something of personal relevance to you, this one comes from the heart.
My philosophy on holiday gifts has evolved over the years. As a new consultant, I kinda blanked for a few years. I really didn’t know if they were expected or appreciated, so I just didn’t get anything. Not the best decision. It didn’t cost me business. I’m not sure it negatively impacted my relationships with people. But, it certainly didn’t help. And, it certainly wasn’t in the spirit of the holidays, and didn’t show how much I truly appreciate the people I work with every day.
Fast forward to 2012. A mindset switch. And, it was a piece of advice I received from a colleague that changed my thinking. The advice: “Grow your relationships with clients and colleagues by giving them a peek into the things you truly care about in life.”
In other words: Give them opportunities to experience the things that are important to you.
For example, I’ve embraced this mantra in a couple different ways over the years:
- Inviting colleagues and clients to play a round of golf with me. I’ve been playing golf since I was 10 (probably younger). I played high school golf. College golf (for a bit). I worked at golf courses for most of my teens and young adulthood. It’s a big part of my life. So, I wanted to connect with people on the golf course and share my love of golf with them.
- Inviting colleagues and clients to meet up at restaurants I love. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of Bryant Lake Bowl. Our family are regulars. So, whenever I get the chance, BLB is my go-to spot for lunches and coffee meet-ups. It’s unique. It’s fun. And, it’s darn good food.
And, starting a few years ago, I applied that philosophy to my holiday gifts, too.
I wanted to give clients a gift that meant something to me–personally.
So, I started with coffee.
What could be more personal than coffee? 🙂
The last two years, I’ve given high-end coffee to my clients. But, not just ANY coffee–Arik’s #Hashtag Special Blend!
It was a big hit.
This year, I took it up a notch. Another big part of my life (for the last 10+ years at least) has been the North Shore. It has been a vacation staple of ours for years. Some years, we visit up to 3-4 times per year. We could not love the North Shore more.
So, when we stumbled on this unique, charming and FREAKING DELICIOUS candy store aptly named “North Shore Candy” last year, it suddenly became clear.
Candy from the North Shore for the holidays.
That’s exactly what I shared with clients this year.
And, now I’ve already got my eye on a great idea for next year, too.