Design Domination Podcast Episode #166: Client Gifting: The Complete Guide

Thinking about sending a client a gift? Find out what to consider before sending a gift to a client, when to send a gift, what to send clients as a gift and more.


It’s that time of year again when you might be thinking about sending some clients a gift.

Why You Should Send Clients a Gift

You might want to send some of your clients a gift for several reasons.

Maybe you’ve enjoyed working with them, and you want to show your gratitude.

Sending a gift is also a reminder of your brand. Any time you can remind clients about your business in a positive way is a good thing.

You can even get a tax write-off at the end of the year for gift giving (not saying that’s why you should do it but just saying…). The IRS has certain guidelines and limitations to sending clients gifts. So be sure to check them out.

Which Clients Should You Send a Gift To

If you decide you want to send clients a gift, you may want to figure out who to send them to. You don’t have to send a gift to everyone. You may not be able to afford that or you may not want to.

You could send a gift to only those who you really enjoy working with. You could send a gift to those who spent over a certain amount of money with you during the year or clients who have worked with you the longest amount of time.

You may decide to send most of them an email card or a printed card in the mail and send a select few a gift.

When You Should Give Clients a Gift

You might think that the holidays—around Thanksgiving and Christmas—are the best time to send a gift to clients. But you don’t have to wait until the holidays.

You can show your appreciation to your clients any time of year. In fact, if you wait until after the holidays are over or another time of year, your gift will stand out, because most people are sending gifts around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

You might want to send a gift on the anniversary of your working together.

Oftentimes, you can get great Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals on gifts. Some companies will allow you to buy the gifts at that time but schedule them to be delivered at a later date. You could also take advantage of sales they might have at different times of the year, such as Mothers’ Day or Labor Day.

But you always want to first make sure your client is even allowed to accept gifts. Some clients, such as those in the government, may not be allowed to accept gifts, so it wouldn’t look good if you sent them one. You could ask this as part of your onboarding process when you take them on as clients, or you could simply ask sometime before you send one.

Types of Client Gifts

What you give a client can depend on how much you know about your client contact and if there is just one person or multiple contacts. You may decide to send different client different gifts too.

Food Gifts

Food gifts are usually a big hit, but they are the most common type of gift too. These are good if you have more than contact at your client’s place of business. You can send a large gift basket or tower for many people to enjoy.

If you are thinking of sending food to a client, though, you might want to consider what they like. Maybe they can’t stand chocolate, for instance. (These people do exist. I actually know one.)

Maybe they’re vegetarian or vegan, so a sausage and cheese platter would obviously be an issue.

Also consider any food allergies that they may or may not have that you don’t know about (unless you ask, of course).

So on those cases, food gifts can be tricky.

But you could simply look at food gifts that offer a variety of flavors in the same box or ones that don’t contain any gluten, nuts or dairy, for instance.

Yes, they do exist!

There are plenty of options out there such as Missionary Chocolates, which offers dairy-free chocolates.

Another option is Safe + Fair, which offers allergen-free popcorn, granola and chips in crazy flavors such as chocolate drizzle popcorn (which I personally love), orange dreamsicle popcorn, birthday cake granola, gingerbread cookie granola (also really good), candy cane granola, dill pickle popcorn and a bunch of other flavors.

Another idea would be something fruit based. That could mean a fruit basket or something like John & Kira’s fruit squares.

You could also consider a gift card to a food delivery service. That gives them the option to choose what they want.

Beverage Gifts

When it comes to beverages, you may consider coffee or tea as gift.

Alcohol, on the other hand, can also be tricky. Someone may not be a drinker. Someone may only drink beer or a certain type of wine. So unless you know what their preference is, I would shy away from sending alcohol as a gift.

But if you do know they drink and what they like, a beer or wine club subscription could be the perfect gift.

Entertainment Gifts

If you want to go another route, could consider gifts centered around any hobbies you may know they have. That could be:

  • reading, so maybe a gift certificate or subscription;
  • board games, which could mean a gift card to a game store;
  • movies, which could be a tub of specialty popcorn or movie theater tickets;
  • music, so a gift subscription to a streaming music platform;
  • sports, which could be tickets to a game; or
  • travel, which could be a subscription to a travel magazine.

These kinds of gifts give your clients a memorable experience.

Self-Care Gifts

One year, I sent a few female clients some lip balms, foot lotion and a few other spa-type items in a gift package.

You could also consider a gift card to a spa for a massage or handmade soaps.

Personalized Gifts

You could consider personalizing a gift such as a nice notebook with monogram initials on the cover or a mug with their name on it. These have a long shelf life, so these kinds of gifts are a constant reminder of your business year round.

Plants and Flowers

Giving a plant or flowers lasts longer too (at least if they take care of it). They might keep the plant on their desk year round.

Pet Lover Gifts

If you have a client who’s always talking about their dog or cat, you could give them something for their pet or a gift card to a pet photography session or a pet store such as Chewy.com, for example.

Charitable Donations as Gifts

If you know your client supports a certain cause or charitable organization, you may consider a donation in their name.

Delivering Client Gifts

Depending on how much time you have and your budget, you could consider delivering gifts to local clients in person.

I did this many years ago, but I won’t do it again. I slaved in the kitchen making hundreds of cookies and packaging them in Chinese takeout containers (the cute paper ones with the metal handle, not the black or white plastic containers). My husband drove me around to various clients in the DC area. It took a good half a day with all the traffic.

The clients appreciated seeing me face to face and paying them a visit in person. It was also a lot cheaper than mailing them all. But, again, you have to weigh your time and your budget.

I hope that this has given you some ideas for gifts that you can send clients, and make a positive impression with them not only at the holidays, but like also throughout the year at different times throughout the year.

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