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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

The Best Client Holiday Gifts and Customer Giveaways

Written By: Carol Roth | No Comments

The holiday season is now upon us and this can be a great time to show your appreciation to those clients and customers that have supported your business throughout the year. And what better way to show your thanks than by giving a meaningful gift? But figuring out the best client/customer gifts and giveaways can be tricky, so we have asked the CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to provide their best gift and giveaway ideas. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.

You may notice some similar ideas, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.

1. Tell Your Story!

One year, I sent $5 Dunkin Donuts gift cards to each client, along with a holiday card that explained that my business, in its 6th year, had had a particularly good year. I included heartfelt thanks for helping my business succeed, along with the promise to celebrate my clients' personal successes in the year to come. Including my clients in the larger story of my professional success was meaningful to me and to them, and I got tons of wonderful feedback.
Thanks to: Elura Nanos of Lawyer Up.

2. Party Party Party

The best ROI is to take the best clients out for a Christmas meal or party.

Allowing people to see the faces behind the emails and calls helps develop personal relationships and also creates several suggestions for better working practices in the following year.

It does not have to cost much per head; it's more about the long term relationships between teams of people.

The links can also spin off into other positive links such as joint fundraising for local charities.
Thanks to: Carl Barton of Staffordshire University.

3. Entertain, Enlighten, Engage

The most available thing that you can give customers is information; it’s something that everybody needs & wants. Information delivered in a meaningful manner can entertain, enlighten, & engage customers, & that will have a longer lasting impact than a pen that runs out of ink. In our case, we created an e-magazine that serves this purpose. See if you can adapt the concept to your business.
Thanks to: Jerry Bader of MRPwebmedia.

4. Your Best, Tailored Year-round

For the holidays, I like to keep things natural. That means the customized premium content, insight & spirit of thanks that I've provided all year should be expected during the holidays.

We should strive to be our best, be most helpful -- as well as thankful -- no matter the season.
Thanks to: Annesa L Lacey, B2B Ghostwriter of @.l.interpretations.

5. Make Memories this Holiday

This year, give them a chance to step away from their desks and create the memory of a lifetime, from fulfilling a dream of Flying a Plane, to Dancing the Tango, Painting a Masterpiece, Writing a Song, Racing a Ferrari on the track and 1,000s more memorable adventures. These unique experience gifts are all beautifully packaged as gift certificates on www.ExperienceDays.com.
Thanks to: Michelle Geib of Xperience Days.

6. Clutter Free Gift Giving!

Since I work with people on releasing clutter, it wouldn't make sense to give clients a gift that is one more thing to dust. Consumables: It's easy to make soaps, a reusable jar w/ soup or cookie mix, or eco-friendly cleaners. Pinterest is a great resource!

Or for something a little more expensive: tickets to a concert, a donation to a charity on their behalf, or a subscription to a magazine. Gift giving doesn't have to mean a "thing", but can still be delightful and heartfelt!
Thanks to: Julie Coraccio of Reawaken Your Brilliance.

7. For the Men, I Give Toys

For Holiday gifts, for the men, I give mostly toys. For the women, I give things like scarves. I don't think about ROI when giving gifts. ROI is not in the spirit of gift giving.
Thanks to: Robert Barrows of R.M.Barrows Advertising.

8. Power Bank Your Business

We POWER our small business by bulk buying w/our logo a give-away Portable Power Bank! It is a unique portable accessory designed to recharge compatible phones & devices via a universal USB charger port with a capacity of 2600mAh using a Li-Ion cell type battery with LED indicators for power and battery levels. When our customers pull out their charger at business meetings, terminals or in public, our logo reminds everyone to think of us when their life/business needs recharging, revitalizing!
Thanks to: Dr. Daria M. Brezinski of What Wize Women Want.

9. Gifts to Build Relationships

A key component for gift giving is to match interests. Successful salespeople learn some personal preferences of their clientele. Entrepreneurs appreciate books or calendars that offer inspirational quotes every day of the year. Providing that you have an expense account via corporate, ballgame tickets are greatly appreciated. Best idea last: share a meal with friendly conversation to further build relationships. The thoughtfulness is remembered and many times leads to another Smooth Sale!
Thanks to: Elinor Stutz of Smooth Sale.

10. Create a Holiday Frenzy!

We are based in NYC, as are most of our clients. Thus, every year, we have a Xmas party where we invite the entire companies of our clients (most are local businesses). This is a great perk for the business owner, but especially for the employees (open bar, lots of cool interesting people, good entertainment, etc). This keeps the employees saying good things about us all year!
Thanks to: Kenny Kline of JAKK Media.

11. Relevant Gifting

I believe it's important to align ALL client gifts to clients' goals and your company's offering.

For example, as a branding consultant, I believe that there's more value in my offering "bonus" consulting (perhaps for year-end planning) to my clients than something which has little value shortly after it's given.

Focus on quality and real value, value that will last long into the following year, and something that a client is likely to talk about with others, potential referrals!
Thanks to: Stephanie Hackney of Chief Brander.

12. Park Your Cell Phone

One of the best gifts a small business owner can give their clients and/or customers is a cell phone holder for their desk, a useful tool that your clients will use every day. The best part about the cell phone holder is having your business card imprinted in the front so it is always visible to the customer. I still get asked, "Where did you order that gift from?"
Thanks to: Eula M. Guest of Griot's Roll Film Production.

13. Value to the Recipient

Here are three campaigns that we developed. All were CEO to CEO gifts & were designed to cement long term relationships. #1: A helicopter maintenance company gave telescopes to their clients in a lasered wooden box. #2: The CEO gave custom chess sets to his clients and always invited them to play chess whenever he came by. #3: CEO signed deals with a Mont Blanc pen and gave the pen in an engraved box to the recipient. Note, none of the gifts themselves were branded- value of relationship was established.
Thanks to: Ben Baker of CMYK Solutions Inc.

14. A Night (and Name) to Remember

We've experimented with client gifts a lot over the past 10 years. About 5 years ago, we settled on the gift that was universally appreciated by our clients: the good old seasonal/festive show. A family friendly show around the holidays is the gift that we get the most feedback about. There are always photos and our clients always tag us in the photos. When they're sharing how much fun they had, our name is always associated with that good time. The price of the tickets invariably pays for themselves.
Thanks to: Dave Davis of Redfly Digital.

15. Watch it Grow

I generally send one of two gifts to my clients to thank them for our business:

1. A small plant they can water and watch grow, like our business relationship

2. Chocolate covered strawberries - to help remind them to enjoy the sweetness of life
Thanks to: Jennifer Martin of Zest Business Consulting.

16. Clients Love Personalized Gift

We work with a number of event planners throughout the year and last holiday season, we gave each of them a Messenger Bag.

Each bag included an embroidered monogram and their corporate logo.

Creating a personalized logo for each bag is a lot of work, but our clients were delighted.

We Give What We Make!
Thanks to: Bob Shirilla of Personalized Tote Bags.

17. Show Care for Their Well Being

We give away GPS tracking and RFID blocking leather passport wallets to our clients, as it allows us to share our bestselling product with them for free while also taking care of their personal security when they travel!
Thanks to: Billy Bauer of Royce Leather.

18. Tortuga Rum Cakes

Cake is always a great gift, but cake made with RUM from the Caribbean is even better, especially around the holidays. Tortuga Rum Cakes have been a holiday staple for over 30 years. Voted the #1 cruise souvenir for 10 years running by Porthole Magazine, Tortuga Rum Cakes are a truly delicious holiday treat. These unique cakes are perfect to use for gifts for clients, teachers, hostess gifts, for holiday/office parties, stocking suffers & co-workers.
Thanks to: Amelia Bernhardt of Tortuga Rum Cakes.

19. Who Doesn't Love CHOCOLATE?

What can be better than to give LOVE in the form of chocolate to your clients and customers? Righteously Raw Chocolates are Organic, Vegan, Kosher, Gluten Free, Non-GMO, No Refined Sugar, and Made with Human Hands, not machines. The positive energy that goes into the Chocolate Dipped Macaroons is the most amazing gift of LOVE there is. When someone puts the little morsel in their mouth, the LOVE begins to show on their face. Immediately you have a friend and customer for life!
Thanks to: Audrey Darrow of Earth Source Organics.

20. Handmade Copper Flask

As American as bourbon whiskey, this is the end-all, be-all for quality flasks. In 1964, Congress recognized bourbon whiskey as a "distinctive product of the United States", making our Great American Flask the perfect luxury vessel for it. Stately and regal, the historically-correct design is as old as bourbon itself, and accurate right down to the American Birch stopper.
Thanks to: Sean Bandawat of Jacob Bromwell.

21. Festive Gift for Customers

When the holiday season rolls around, think out of the box and give a gift to your customers or clients that they will enjoy and enjoy wearing during the holiday season. This Patriotic Snowman sweater is a quality, all-cotton knit that comes in sizes XS to XXL. Your customers will appreciate having something festive to wear throughout the season to parties and family events. This unique and fun gift is sure to be a favorite.
Thanks to: Anne Marie Blackman of My Ugly Christmas Sweater.

22. Freedom IS Your Birthright

In a society where personal connection is being taken over by technology, the best client gifts are human, personal and caring (which is a gift to giver and recipient). Not only are personal gifts a joy to select and give, but personal gifts allow clients to feel valuable! This ignites repeat business and referrals. If a client loves golf, a golf pro memoir perhaps? A wine connoisseur? A well chosen bottle of vino will be much appreciated. The point is to connect on a human level!
Thanks to: Shawn Haywood of Liberate My Life.

23. Business Gift with Holiday ROI

One of the most popular appreciation gifts our business users send to their clients is a three month membership to a wine of the month club. Recipients like trying new selections, while senders are perceived as thoughtful, even though they are not selecting specific wines. The ROI is derived from uniqueness of delivered wines, while putting senders in a memorable light. At the end of the day, it is all about warming professional relationships.
Thanks to: Mike Aldridge of ZigaVite.

24. Evidence of Good Deed

We make contributions to charities...World Vision, Red Cross...and then thank our clients for making it possible. After all, it's THEIR money that we contribute. And it is awfully nice of them to provide it. I alert them via email with a picture and some love and a big "Thank you!"
Thanks to: Ellen Rohr of Bare Bones Biz, Inc.

25. Get Techie with It

Small businesses can give their clients and/or customers anything electronic, e.g., a tablet or laptop. These gifts are Win-Win and keep on giving throughout the year. For example, clients and/or customers can download your app (if you have one) or buy your products or services online. If you give away a digital camera, clients and customers can easily snap photos of themselves using your products. They can upload them to social networks, e.g., Facebook and Instagram. This is priceless.
Thanks to: Amandah Blackwell of Savvy-Writer.

26. Say Cheese! The Selfie Stick

The selfie stick is undoubtedly one of the coolest and most unique corporate holiday gifts this year. Small businesses should aim for a wow factor with their holiday gifts and the selfie stick hits the mark perfectly. It’s something clever that people appreciate receiving, and when you add your logo, it’s a great way to keep your business top of mind.
Thanks to: Jason Robbins of ePromos Promotional Products.

27. Branded Booze for the Holidays

What better way to celebrate the holidays this season than branded booze - specifically wine with your logo either etched or printed as a label!
Honor your recipient with your impeccable taste.
Thanks to: Anne Brothers of Summit Group.

28. World's Finest Olive Oil

Menelaus 100% Organic Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the ultimate holiday gift for any customer or client. Only 1000 bottles are produced each year, making this one of the rarest olive oils in the world. An extraordinary organic olive oil, rich in flavor and bursting with polyphenol, Menelaus posts the olive oil's lab analysis on their website. Each bottle is numbered and has the harvest year printed on its label. And it ships in a charming burlap bag, making it gift ready.
Thanks to: Antonia Dafniotis of Menelaus Olive Oil.

29. Do Good with Your Gift

I once received a printed holiday card from a colleague saying she had made a charitable donation in my name. I was so flattered and pleased and have done that on occasion. It can be a nonprofit that you/your business believe in, or one that you know the client favors. Examples: PBS, Heifer Int’l, Survivor Mitzvah Project, Parkinson’s Resource Organization, Doctors Without Borders, or a smaller local charity… AND/OR anything Tiffany!
Thanks to: Flo Selfman of Words à la Mode.

30. Just Believe

What do you get clients for Christmas? A bottle of wine, a basket of fruit? 14 years ago, I decided to treat my clients like real people instead of contributors to my revenue stream. I crafted inspirational stories, bound them with ribbons and turned them into ornaments. Clients raved, saying they couldn't wait to get each new story. Many suggested turning them into a book. “Just Believe” is the result. It's my way of saying that to make your dreams come true, all you have to do is believe!
Thanks to: Rosemarie Monaco of Group M PR & Cross-Media Marketing.

31. Light Up Your Holidays!

Looking for a holiday gift for your clients that says creative and memorable? Be sure to make it safe and useful in the home, office and for any occasion. Find something they will want their whole family to enjoy. Secondly, make it last forever! Think of something that they will never throw away! Our recommendation is Frux Home and Yard’s Flameless LED Tea Lights with luminary bags or wraps - they are all of these things and more! Your company will be remembered for giving such an awesome gift!
Thanks to: Kerry-Ann Bercher of Frux Home and Yard.

32. The Gift of Useful Information

As as gift, we wrote an article in one of the most prestigious business magazines in our region (American Economy), with information that is going to serve our clients as a bible on how to do business in China and avoid Fraud. The article is called "Most common business frauds in China". We bought more than 50 magazines wrapped as a gift and placed a separator on the page of the article. In my opinion, the gift of information wrapped as a gift is priceless.
Thanks to: Jose Hidalgo of Annex Asia Business Solutions.

33. The Espresso of Hot Chocolate

When the holidays come around, it is our Spooning Chocolate gift sets that we send to our favorite clients. There's a reason that they are so popular. It is one of the best tasting hot chocolates on the market, dairy & gluten free, and instantly mixes in a mug of hot water. We even have little Spooning Mugs to use with the chocolate and a gorgeous linen stationary gift card. Anyone getting them always tells us it's one of the best client appreciation gifts that they ever received!
Thanks to: Craig Wolfe of Cocoa Canard.

34. Seattle Coffee, Not Starbucks

Bean Box is a "Birchbox for coffee" that delivers an expertly hand-picked selection of four 1.7 ounce samples from the best independent artisan coffee roasters in Seattle for $20 each month.

Don't miss out on this perfect gift to caffeinate your clients and customers for the whole year. They'll be reminded of you all year long with every single sip!
Thanks to: Karla Cook of Bean Box.

35. Custom Golf Gift for Clients!

I recently went back to work after taking time off to have children. As a congratulatory gift, my friend bought me a customized Putt-A-Round. As an avid golfer, the Putt-A-Round was perfect for practicing my short game. Unlike most putting aids, it allows you 360 degrees of putting just like you would at the golf course. It was great that my friend was able to completely customize the flag with my company's logo! I loved the product so much that I decided to order Putt-A-Rounds for my clients!
Thanks to: CJ Kang of Putt A Round.

36. Outstanding Stand for All

Do you have busy or active clients or customers that love to read or watch videos? This unique product allows one to read or watch videos hands free while eating, cooking, creating art, building projects – or just about anything else, including doing work! It is a small, lightweight (but very sturdy), portable stand that can be used with books, tablets or e-Readers. It folds up and can be carried in a purse or shirt pocket. It is THE dream tool for active multi-taskers!
Thanks to: Armando Salcido of ASVS Products.

37. Gifts Clients Love

The best holiday gifts keep you in the hearts of customers in a significant way; the key lies in threading it to something meaningful. Recently, I gave succulents in custom designed pots with stories attached that tied the caring of the plant to tending their small business. My logo was included, but minimized, so that it was as much a gift of beauty as a promotional piece. My clients appreciated the personal touch. Look for a gift that connects your story with theirs and they'll love it.
Thanks to: Michele Alise of Flux Appeal Design.

38. Get Clear and Get Going

My most valuable holiday gift for my clients is the Doing What Matters™ Holiday Breakthrough Session. It's the entry portal for working with me to 1) get peace of mind through clarity about what you’ll be doing through December 31, 2) make time for all of the holiday activities that you want to experience with family and friends, and 3) feel proud and happy about your business results. The best part is that I'll help you identify what you should no longer be doing so you don't waste any time on it!
Thanks to: Monique Y. Wells of Making Productivity Easy.

39. A Handheld Remembrance

For my executive coaching clients, the best gifts have been handmade pens that my husband turns from wood. My clients receive countless compliments about their pens and they then tell the story of our relationship. From those stories I have earned new coaching clients without having to sell anything. Yes, when marketing is done well, selling is truly effortless. Thank you Peter Drucker for those wise words.
Thanks to: Leanne Hoagland-Smith of ADVANCED SYSTEMS.

40. The Best Client Holiday Gifts

The best holiday gift we've given away to our customers was several years ago when we would give away a free travel certificate good for 3 Day/2 Night hotel accommodations. The 3 Day, 2 Night Vacation Certificates offer accommodations with quality hotels that range from 2-3 stars and are in the same class of hotels like Hyatt, Radisson, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Quality Inn, Marriott, Wyndham and Sheraton. Customers really loved the vouchers, which resulted in a more meaningful ROI.
Thanks to: Ian Aronovich of GovernmentAuctions.org.

41. More than Meets the Merry Eye

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle & bustle of year-end holiday business. But no token of appreciation is able to richly cultivate more inherent joy & genuine engagement among clients & customers than inviting them to invest in their own quality of life, PLUS the goodwill of others. Present business supporters with a company gift (the more merry & memorable, the better). Then (the kicker!), match its value with a donation on their behalf to a charity of their personal choice.
Thanks to: Kristin Kirk of Cloud 9 Living.

42. Brew Up a Memorable Gift

Bored with the usual gift baskets and popcorn tins, we wanted to do something truly unique for our clients’ holiday gifts. Starting in October, the team began preparing for a 100% hand-made gift experience. Brewing our own beer in Julie’s kitchen, naming the recipes, designing the beer bottle labels, 4-pack carrier, gift tag, and hand-bottling (and sampling) their delicious brew was a labor of love. Clients absolutely loved them and appreciated the work, forethought and dedication.
Thanks to: John Glynn of The James Agency.

43. Berry Important to Know!

Don't be fooled America! There is only one place to get premium chocolate dipped strawberries from Shari....and it's not from Shari's Berries. Today, founder Shari Fitzpatrick exclusively offers her hand-dipped gourmet strawberries under her NEW label, Berried In Chocolate. Filling the huge demand for her to offer her products again, Shari launched her new brand!
Thanks to: Shari Fitzpatrick of Berried In Chocolate.

Do you have a great client/customer gift or giveaway idea that wasn’t included? Please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!

And if you would like to become a part of the CarolRoth.com contributor network and find out about opportunities to contribute to future articles, sign up here: http://www.carolroth.com/carolroth-com-blog-contributor-sign-up/

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth