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11 Customer Holiday Gift Ideas That Don’t Suck

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This year, forget the lame corporate gifts, and send something awesome that your customers will love.

Update: We've updated this guide with even more gifts for 2015. Check out the most recent version here.

As someone with a severe allergy to clutter, most “corporate” gifts don’t do much for me.

Of course, I appreciate the sentiment, but there are only so many branded USB drives I can stuff in my drawer before I begin to approach a nervous breakdown.

For those of us who want to send our customers a token of appreciation this holiday season, that presents a challenge: how do we pick gifts that people won’t just appreciate, but that they’ll love?

I’ve got you covered.

Whether you want to send a free or inexpensive gift (which can be incredibly powerful, as I’ll show you below), or you’ve got a holiday gift budget you need to blow, I’m sharing eleven suggestions for client and customer holiday gifts that don’t suck:

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.

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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