The holidays are almost here, so it’s time to choose thank-you gifts for your local clients. Although you can go with the same type of client appreciation gifts that work well for online businesses, you have options they don’t.
As a local business owner who knows the community, you can give your customers gifts from other local businesses. Your customers will be happy, you’ll support other local entrepreneurs, and your money will stay in the local economy. That’s a holiday gifting triple win.
Here are some ways to go about it.
2 Things to Consider When Buying Gifts for Local Business Clients
Choose gifts from local businesses if you can. Just make sure the businesses you buy your gifts from don’t compete with your business or your clients’ businesses.
Brand your gifts. Always include a card with your company logo (see Gift Idea #5, below). You may also be able to have some gifts, like water bottles and chocolates, personalized with your logo if you order far enough in advance.
Beyond those two guidelines, your holiday gift choices will depend on your budget and what your customers like.
Gift Idea #1: Throw a Customer Appreciation Party
Ideal for: Established businesses that can afford to host a gathering, businesses that cater to families with children, businesses that cater to pet owners
Price range: Varies depending on the venue and activities. Enter your business ZIP code on Thumbtack’s catering cost calculator to see local cost per person for catered meals and treats.
Let’s start with the most awesome option: Throw a holiday party for your clients. This can be anything from a catered cookout with a band and party games in your store’s parking lot (if you live in a place where winters are mild) to a formal dinner and dance at a hotel, and just about anything in between. Some specific ideas to get you brainstorming:
- Reserve a local dog park or training center for a couple of hours for your grooming business clients and their pets. Let the pups play, set up a photo booth where dogs and owners can get pics in antlers and Santa hats, have a costume contest and dole out treat bags.
- Turn your store into a local “meet Santa” spot for a day. Hire a Santa, let kids get photos, offer games they can play for prizes, and give out treats.
- For grown-up clients and families with older kids, an afternoon at the movies is a real holiday treat. A local business my family uses reserves a theater at the local cinema every year and treats their clients and their families to a first-run film, lunch and a raffle. (We are very loyal clients.)
You may not have time to pull together a holiday party for your clients this year but keep it in your idea file for next year. Send out save the date cards as soon as you set your venue and date, so your clients can make it work with their holiday schedules.
Gift Idea #2: Give Your Customers Local Experiences
Ideal for: Businesses with active clients, including families, pet owners, sports fans and more
Price range: about $20 and up
A less expensive and labor-intensive alternative to a party is gift certificates to local businesses. Tap into your knowledge of your customers when you choose your gifts and remember that you don’t have to give every client the same gift.
- Your sports fan customers might appreciate tickets to see the local minor league hockey or NBA G League team.
- Professional clients might like theater tickets or a gift certificate for the local rock-climbing gym.
- Customers with kids might appreciate gift tickets to the local children’s museum.
And it’s hard to go wrong with gift certificates to local restaurants and coffee shops.
Gift Idea #3: Donate to Local Causes Your Customers Love
Ideal for: Customers who have everything, customers who are downsizing or going minimalist, clients who can’t accept gifts
Price range: Up to you
Is there a local nonprofit that your customers love? Do your best clients have causes that are close to their hearts? Make donations in their names, and make sure they’ll receive a card.
This is a natural fit for businesses like professional organizers and senior move managers whose clients are decluttering and don’t need more stuff. Donations may also work if your business is a vendor to government agencies or businesses with policies against taking gifts.
Gift Idea #4: Send Food Baskets or Flower Arrangements
Ideal for: Business clients, customers who are homebodies
Price range: $25 and up
Traditional gift baskets and flowers are a tried-and-true option for your business clients, because the whole office can appreciate snacks or the beauty of a fresh floral arrangement.
Food and flowers can be enjoyed at home, which makes them a thoughtful choice for clients who spend a lot of time there, like seniors with mobility issues or parents of newborns.
Gift Idea #5: Customize Holiday Greeting Cards for Your Clients
Ideal for: Including with gift baskets or cards, sending to past clients, clients who can’t accept gifts, businesses on a tight budget
Price range: $1 and up per card, postage extra
A stash of customized holiday cards with your business logo is a valuable resource. Remember how it’s a good idea to brand gift items with your logo? That’s not always possible but including a logo card from your business will make it clear who that giant fruit basket is from.
Mailing cards is also a good way to keep in touch with past customers that you haven’t heard from recently. Cards are nice thank-you gestures to clients whose company policy prohibits them from accepting gifts. And they’re also a lot less costly than client gifts.
Sites like Vistaprint and Staples let you upload your logo and customize one of their templates for your business. Add holiday stamps from the post office and you’re set to deliver holiday cheer to your customers.
Still need gift ideas? The HostGator elves have been working on more gift guides: