Business Client Gift Guide: What Should You Give Clients for the Holidays?

Not sure what to give your freelance business clients for the holidays? Check out this budget-friendly gift giving idea guide.

As this year wraps up, I’m excited to celebrate my second holiday of quitting my day job to become my own boss! Since I walked out of full-time day job in 2013, I’ve worked with some fantastic entrepreneurs, and signed some awesome (and not so awesome) contracts.

Many of my clients and colleagues are inspiring and enjoyable to work with. I’ve learned a lot of personal and business lessons throughout the past years, and overcame some pretty tough challenges.

But the question I’m facing now is, what should I give my clients for the holidays, and how much should I spend?

Is a Christmas card or a basket of fruit appropriate, or should it be something more expensive or maybe even a bit more personal?

Should you give freelance clients gifts?

Before thinking of the best gift for your clients, first decide whether or not you should give them something at all. Of course, it’s always nice to say “thank you” and send an ecard or snail mail letter.

But what if your client is brand new? Will an email suffice? Or should you spend a bit more time and money?

My answer is that I think it depends on the client and the long-term relationship potential. If this is a one-off project (or they give you sporadic assignments) then you probably don’t have to worry about gifting them anything.

A few other factors to consider when gifting include:

  • How easy (or difficult) of a client they are — it could be time to re-evaluate the relationship
  • How much you enjoy the project
  • The time & effort the work takes to complete
  • How well you’re compensated, or paid on time
  • The length of time you’ve been working together

Coincidentally, this question was asked in the Freelancer’s Club, and thanks to the wonderful and creative minds of everyone in there we came up with following advice.

15 Business Client Gifts For Less than $40

This blog is called Careful Cents for a reason, so if you do buy a holiday gift for your business clients, make sure you don’t overspend. There are lots of gift ideas and ways you can express your gratitude without a ton of money.

Here are 15+ gift ideas for your business clients that cost less than $40.

1. Buy food gifts that are budget-friendly

Linsey Knerl from 1099Mom suggests to base your gift on the amount of revenue or length of relationship. Clients with revenue over $5K, for example, will get a better gift than a client that only worked on one or two projects.

You want to keep your gifts in proportionate to the income you received from that client throughout the year. This isn’t to say that one client is better than the other, you just don’t want to eat up all your revenue on a $100 client by purchasing a $100 gift.

A gift basket is always a safe bet since it doesn’t cost much and everyone loves food. Here are some appropriate gift baskets that are budget-friendly.

2. Fuel the creative process

Is it better to give virtual or physical gifts? The answer, depends on the client and their personality. If the type of business they run is mostly online and done virtually, they’re probably used to dealing with non-tangible transactions.

However, if your client prefers to touch and feel their products, then a physical gift is the better choice. And when it comes to physical products for the office, coffee and tea-related gifts are always a smart choice.

These are drinks that usually fuel the creative process, and you can never have too much creative fuel!

3. Share office supplies and books

Clients will never say no to good office supplies and the good news is that this is a cost-effective and practical gift. It’s something that’s personal and unique without spending a lot of money. Plus, there’s a high likelihood of them actually using these gifts.

Office supply gifts can include organizational supplies, calendars or books. Clients always enjoy high quality notebooks, journals, or other office-type supplies! You can never have too many of these.

4. Spread holiday cheer virtually

If you’re looking for a really awesome virtual gift ideas, gift cards are always acceptable. Go the extra mile though and present the gift card in a nice basket or card.

You can also use a service like Paperless Post. They have a huge selection of holiday cards to choose from, many of which are free, and all of them can be personalized with your own brand message. The best part is the “envelope” feature that personalizes each card with the recipients name on the front — just like a real letter.

Another idea is to make a donate in the clients name. I have a client who has requested any Christmas gifts or money to be donated to their favorite charity. You can do the same thing with your clients! You and your brand will be viewed as generous, and as an added bonus, you’ll get a tax write-off too.

5. Give custom-branded gifts

Anything that’s crafty, particularly unique and memorable or personal, can go a long way to build a long-lasting client relationship. Trolling through Amazon or Etsy shops is a great place to start, or if you’re a creative person try your hand at a few Pinterest inspired crafts.

Items like branded gifts are both good for moral and marketing, such as the personalized Sharpie markers with your site’s URL. You could also send a handwritten card, or a small gift that reflects the relationship you’ve developed together (like an inside joke).

I’ve been working with one of my business clients for three years and he deserves something more than just a holiday card. So I ordered a custom wood pen (he just started renting out his own office space to expand the business) and it’s something more personal than just buying a pen.

This gift is especially smart for business clients with large companies, or if you work with corporate clients, who are overloaded with lots of fruit baskets and gifts for the holidays.

6. Don’t forget about deals and discounts

Finally, consider offering your most exclusive business clients a discount on future orders, consulting services and products. You could also host a holiday giveaway. Make sure you explain it’s your way of thanking them for putting up with you all year (this is what I did for my loyal newsletter subscribers).

And don’t be envious of the big brands that spend a lot of money on holiday gifts. As a small business, you can interact with your clients in a much more genuine and personal way!

Again, take time to say “thank you”. That alone will affect your client, over all the gifts in the world. Something creative or thoughtful, will have a bigger impact than something you randomly picked up at the store.

Are you planning to get your business clients gifts this year? Why or why not?

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15 comments

  1. Mostly my giveaways are physical (is software virtual or physical?) I reward my fans, with gadgets, games, software that excites them and try to give back. I invest at least 30% of my profits into giveaways for my fans to keep them excited and help give back.

  2. I would argue that even for people who are used to living in the online-world only, a physical gift has a more lasting impression. You are forced to interact with the object in a way that you don’t do with online-things. Plus, everyone loves getting mail!

  3. Dara Lin says:

    Holiday is a once in a year celebration, However in business i think the best holiday gift is a discount on any services or purchase because it’s like giving them the opportunity to buy the value of your products in the way that they can reach with. Maybe it’s not too special but it is a source of engagement.

    • Carrie says:

      Yes, I think I’m up for the challenge! 🙂 That’s a great idea though, Will. Generally, people love homemade baked goods, and that’s a personal item too. So it ticks two boxes!

  4. ben briones says:

    I am a wedding photographer. I give a client (bride) a $10 e-gift to starbucks when they sign with me as a thank you and with purpose as a marketing tool so they may talk about me more to their friends etc. Now my question is is that $10 e-gift card tax deductible?

    • Carrie says:

      Great question, Ben! Yes, a gift card or any monetary gift is tax deductible since it’s used as part of running a client-based business. It’s kind of like a marketing or advertising expense.

  5. Centsai says:

    This was a great article to read! Most holiday articles are so general and don’t talk about what to give to your business clients! It was great to hear your ideas for appropriate and inexpensive holiday gifts to give to your clients! Thanks for sharing!

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