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Our 2016 Customer Appreciation Holiday Gift Guide

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Here are the gifts to send to your favorite customers this year.

Every year, we publish a list of non-traditional holiday gifts that let your customers and clients know how much you appreciate them, without the usual boring corporate stuff that you find when you Google “customer gifts.”

Here are the gifts we’re recommending this year, no matter what your budget:

1) A Personalized Mug With THEIR Name, Not Yours

Why their name?

Because, as Dale Carnegie brilliantly put it, “Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

A mug with your name or logo will quickly find its way into the back of the office cupboard. A mug with their name on it is much, much more valuable to your customer, and will likely become a frequently used item.

And every time they see it, they’ll remember who gave it to them.

2) Food From Your Business’ Hometown

Instead of the standard overpriced catalog basket of dry cheese and forgettable crackers, send a thoughtful local favorite to your customers. Years ago, a Sonoma-based vendor sent my team a case of wine from a winery down the road from their office. Needless to say, they had no trouble keeping our business the following year.

3) A Personal Assistant

I’m a huge fan of Fancy Hands, a US-based virtual assistant service that I use daily to take care of small personal tasks so I can focus on the important stuff (like this blog). In the last month, I’ve used them to:

$29.99 will buy your customer five tasks, and if they’re like me, they’ll be hooked and forever grateful.

4) A Discount (Or Free Bonus)

Speaking of Fancy Hands, they sent me this a few weeks ago:

A discount or free product can be a very appreciated and remembered holiday gift, as long it has personal value to the recipient.

5) A Handwritten Note

A gift doesn’t have to be expensive, and a sincere note of appreciation can have just as much impact — if not more — as a pricier present.

6) Your Favorite Books

A personal and deeply valuable gift, books can change people’s lives. Send anything: business books, novels, whatever you like, and include a note about why the book is meaningful to you.

For customers with long commutes, consider audiobooks (or gift cards to Audible) too.

7) Donate to Charity

If you think your customer would appreciate you doing something good in their name (or if they have a corporate policy against accepting gifts), make a donation to a charity they support.

Or, give a Kiva gift card and let them decide on the recipient themselves.

8) Branded Highlighters

Why highlighters, and not pens? Because pens are lost, lended, stolen and forgotten every single day, while highlighters sit in a drawer or pencil cup and only get taken out for a very important task. And when your customer is highlighting something that’s important to them, they’ll be reminded of you.

9) Uber/Lyft Gift Credit

The holidays mean celebration, and nobody wants to have to drive home after a night of particularly, ahem, indulgent celebrating. Gift your customers Uber gift credit or Lyft gift credit to get them home without having to get behind the wheel.

10) A Magazine Subscription

How do you make a whole office happy for an entire year?

With a subscription to Wired or National Geographic, or something industry-specific that your customer teams will enjoy.

Lots of options available at (though be warned: they will send you way too many emails unless you opt out).

11) Gratitude

Here’s a secret: you don’t have to spend much time, or any money to send a gift that’s welcome and appreciated. Research has shown that a sincere thank you sent by email to your customer can make a huge impact on your relationship with them.

And if you really want to wow them, pick up the phone.

12) Aeropress

Coffee keeps most of us going, and I’m pretty sure it comprises around 30% of the cells in my body.

But most office coffee is horrid. Brown sludgy goop that comes out of a machine that probably hasn’t been washed in years. Gross.

The solution?

An Aeropress.

It’s easy enough to use that literally anyone with access to hot water and coffee beans can make great coffee, and good enough that you can even find Aeropress brews on the menu at many independent coffee shops.

This little thing makes insanely good coffee compared to most one-cup machines, and is small enough to stash in any desk drawer, or even a carry-on bag (yes, I’ve traveled with mine).

13) Field Notes

If you didn’t think notebooks could be cool, you haven’t seen Field Notes.

They’re rugged looking, durable, made in the USA and a pleasure to write in.

As for how giftable they are, Jack Dorsey gives one to every single new employee at Square.

14) Oranges (Yes, Really)

Yes, oranges.

But not just any oranges.

Honeybells from Indian River Fruits are just about the sweetest, juiciest and most delicious oranges you—or your clients—will ever try.

These things explode when you bite into them. A friend of mine got a box of 12 last year as a gift, and they disappeared within a day.

These are a great gift for teams; much better than gift baskets, as there’s no fighting over who gets the “best” stuff. Everybody wins.

15) Custom Fortune Cookies

“Branded” food can often be really boring and corporate. Nobody wants a Hershey bar with your company’s logo on it.

Fortune cookies, on the other hand, are fun to eat. They’re interactive, and everyone likes breaking them open to find the message inside.

With custom fortune cookies, like the ones from the Kansas City Fortune Cookie Company, you can combine the power of a heartfelt thank you note with the joy of, well, cookies.

Depending on how many you buy, these can be as cheap as just pennies per cookie, so they can be an economical way to say thanks to your customers.

It’s Not Too Late

Whether you want to send your customers a gift or a simple thank you, you can still get it done before the holidays if you act now.

Steal any one (or more) of the ideas above and get to work building deeper relationships with your customers.

Question: What’s the best customer gift you’ve ever sent, received or seen? Let me know in the comments below.

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About the Author

Len Markidan heads up marketing at Groove. He’s focused on helping startups and small businesses build better relationships with their customers.

Read his latest posts or follow him on Twitter

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