Holiday Cards and Presents, Really?

I’m already late…I should have the database cleaned out for the Holiday Cards by now. We should have picked out the card, the greeting, scanned in our personal signatures for printing by now. And, of course, we should have set the budget for gifts by now- grading our clients and partners in the “A”, “B” and “C” budget categories as well as “Card Only” for gifts this season.

I’m late. It’s my fault. I struggle with this ritual every year. I have taken every approach I think at this, but I’m looking for fresh ideas for what to give for the Holidays to clients, prospects and vendors. Please share your ideas with me and everyone else. I don’t need just good ideas, or new ideas- I just want to know what you and your company are doing.

Here are the categories I have used in the past:

  • Food – Simple, easy to order – take care of an entire list of higher-end clients in one sitting with a catalog, a credit card, a list of addresses, handful of seasonal wishes written down so I don’t forget them, and a bottle of red wine- (wine is optional, but I find it an excellent shopping lubricant). Of course the challenge – it’s not memorable or meaningful.
  • Iconic – Much harder, have to pack in a lot of meaning, thought and something that is not offensive. My best ever was a glass prism used in olden times on boats for lighting lower decks by being embedded in the floors of decks above them and allowing light into the lower decks. Great piece to remind leaders of the need to keep passing light, hope and information throughout their organization. Problem is- I’m tapped out. It is so hard to have a good idea, and I had mine.
  • Personal – Picking something for each one of my clients individually. Aaarghh! Just the thought of that much shopping is like shards of glass in my eyes. I know, I can delegate this down, but then I’m stuck with trying to figure out the “personal” angle. Honestly, most of our clients buy what they want- which means that I have to figure out some new technology doo-dad or unique travel gizmo that fits their personality that they have not purchased themselves. Now I’m not giving, I’m racing them.
  • Donation – A lovely card arrives that says, “In your honor at this holiday season, we have made a donation to the XYZ Foundation for Curing/Helping/Saving/Solving Something Globally Important.” When I receive these my first thought is always, “Really, who would have believed that your most important charity and mine were EXACTLY the same?”
  • Nothing – As snarky as some of my earlier comments are, I really like giving gifts and I hate the idea of not sending something to my clients who have been so important and so very generous in their support of us. We have awesome clients who refer and recommend us. They also share their businesses with us and we develop personal ties to them. So, “nothing” is not an option.

So, give me your thoughts, comments and company status on giving gifts, I know that everyone would appreciate it.