5 ideas for holiday gifts for clients

It’s that time of year again. Colder weather, shorter days, and holidays approaching at the speed of light. Given the warnings about supply chain issues and empty store shelves, the wisest amongst us are getting holiday shopping out of the way as early as possible. 

Every November at our marketing agency, we receive hundreds of inquiries from wealth managers regarding gift ideas for their clients. And if we’re lucky, every January we get feedback on how our clients’ clients felt about the gifts they received. Over time, we’ve learned a lot about which gifts have the greatest impact and which gifts … well … don’t.

Our advice is to give things that are personal and positive. Personal demonstrates your thoughtfulness, and frankly, we all need as much positivity as we can get these days. 

These are the five gifts we’ve gotten the most positive feedback about over the years.

1. BOOKS

“Reading more” often lands on people’s list of New Year’s resolutions. Books are still gifts that many people appreciate receiving, particularly if the topic is something you’re certain your client is interested in. One year I bought a book about dogs for all the dog people in my life, and I was inundated with genuine notes of appreciation. I personally love trivia and interesting factoids, so when my sister got me “The Book of General Ignorance,” I kept thinking about her in a positive light as I read it. Imagine a client or prospect repeatedly thinking of you as they read the book you gave them – staying top of mind with your clients can have a powerful impact.

2. LOCAL BUSINESS GIFTS

Probably topping the list of the best gifts our agency ever received was a box filled with local products — locally made chips and candy, soaps and candles from artisans in town, and more — that was packaged individually by the vendor who sent it to us. We loved everything in the box, we appreciated the effort the vendor went through to put it together, and we were thrilled to support local businesses — so much so that we copied the gift idea to send to a few clients who live and work in the same community we do.

3. WORK-FROM-HOME STUFF

In the third quarter of 2020, most people assumed they would soon return to the office environment they’d left, but millions of people are now facing long-term work-from-home situations. With the realization that they’ll be working in their home office more than ever — and spending 10% more on home office projects and remodels — this is a great year to gift things that could brighten their office environment or make their situation more efficient: paperweights, picture frames, small statues, easy-care plants like succulents, or colorful artistic pieces.

4. SWEET TREATS

I guess we never grow out of our sweet tooth because we always get positive feedback on candy or other sweet delicacies as a holiday gift. What we have noticed, however, is that the more unique or original the sweet, the more positively it’s received. Places like Olive & Cocoa, Edible Arrangements, or Frog Hollow Farm (for your clients who prefer organic or healthier options) are all tried-and-true companies that can satisfy a sweet tooth while catering to dietary restrictions.

5. GAMES AND PUZZLES

Given that many people abstained from getting together indoors last year, it’s possible that – compared to previous years — 2021 will see far more friends and family gathering inside. We simply weren’t at home in the past the way we are now, especially with the increase in working from home. Again, think outside the box for newer, more unique games that your clients are unlikely to already own — items like 3D Tic Tac Toe, strategic board games (Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride, for example), or a comprehensive book of word puzzles, brain teasers and more.

Bonus idea No. 1: Personalize your holiday card rather than sending a generic one from the store. Far too many of our clients simply purchase generic cards rather than personalizing the cards through an online service like Shutterfly or Minted, or designing custom cards. The most positive feedback we get every year is about custom cards, more so than even gifts.

Bonus idea No. 2: The online gaming industry has been booming, especially during the pandemic. Consider sending “online dollars” to the children or grandchildren of your clients, such as gift cards for popular gaming consoles and app stores.

BONUS TIP: WHAT NOT TO GET

Here’s a list of gifts that we’ve heard negative feedback about or that simply didn’t land well with our clients’ clients:

  • Things with your company name or logo.
  • Impersonal gift cards to stores like Target or Starbucks.
  • Anything religious, especially when you don’t know the religious beliefs of the recipient.
  • Stuff people tend to be inundated with, such as tote bags and water bottles.
  • Things that take too much commitment for the client, such as live plants.
  • Clothing, as it might not fit or be wanted.
  • Gifts that are too large and require space in someone’s house.
  • Alcohol, especially when you don’t know their preference, whether they abstain or if the recipient struggles with addiction.
  • Last but not least … anything with peanuts in it (unfortunately, sending anything with nuts in it could have an unintended and dangerous outcome).

Regardless of what you decide on, the key to gift-giving for clients — much like with your friends and family — is adding a personal touch. If you’ve ever received a gift that clearly had no thought behind it, think about how you felt receiving it. Do you want your clients to feel that way, too?

[More: Holiday gift guide for clients in a virtual world]

Jeremy Jackson is the founder of SKY Marketing Consultants, a full-service, boutique agency that provides marketing support for financial advisers and financial services companies.

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Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.

Andrew Vincent
Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He's also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.
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