The holiday season is a time for being kind. Exchanging gifts is all part of the fun! If you’re in a working relationship with someone, however, is it appropriate to send gifts? Should a professional makeup artist send her clients holiday favors to keep up good rapport?
If you have many clients and business contacts, who should you send gifts to? What kinds of gifts are appropriate? Figuring out proper gifting etiquette can be stressful, but don’t let it drag your holiday spirit down!
Here are some tips to help calm your gifting worries!
Should you send a gift to your clients?
As long as you conduct yourself professionally, most businesses agree that sending small holiday presents to your clients is acceptable. Some even encourage it! For your client, a small gift is a warm reminder that you appreciate their business and would value the opportunity to work with them again.
For you, gifts are a holiday-friendly way to remind people that your business is a good choice. As long as you aren’t bombarding customers with blatant advertisements during their personal time, sending a small token of your appreciation can be a smart idea.
Who should you send gifts to?
Whether you send gifts to a select group of people or many clients and business partners is a personal choice. If you are a small business owner with just a few regular clients, it might be worth sending a gift to everyone. If your makeup business is large, you might want to avoid sending gifts to every person you’ve ever encountered.
Someone you had a short makeup consultation with two years ago who didn’t actually book your makeup services might be confused if they suddenly receive an expensive bottle of wine from you. Even large companies generally keep their gifting pool to just clients or vendors that they do business with regularly. Gifts will be reserved for their biggest accounts and most frequent clients.
How much should you spend?
Even though holiday gifts are an opportunity for gentle marketing, try not to go over board. The goal here is to spend a little bit of money making your clients feel appreciated. Don’t drop lots of cash as though it’s a big advertising campaign!
Giving very expensive gifts, particularly if you’re a small business, gives the wrong impression and makes clients uncomfortable. How much you spend, specifically, depends on how big your business is and how many clients you’re gifting to, so use your judgment. Remember that a gift shouldn’t be expensive enough that your clients feel guilty or pressured!
When should you send the gifts?
Gifts are a great gesture, but you don’t want to interrupt your clients’ actual holiday with business reminders. Most companies will send their gifts at the very beginning of the season, near the end of November when work Christmas parties begin.
For example, American companies might begin sending clients holiday favors after Thanksgiving. If this is not convenient for you (perhaps that’s a very busy part of your season!), wait until after Christmas and brand your gift as a ‘Happy New Year’ favor.
Sending gifts too close to Christmas, or during your clients’ vacation time, can make them feel like their personal space is being stepped in. If you send things too close to Christmas, some clients take trips, so your cookies might go stale in their mailbox!
Is a Christmas card acceptable?
Not every business sends their clients actual gifts. Some companies, particularly big ones, will send nice holiday greeting cards instead. If you’re the owner of a small business, cards are a fine idea, but they will not make your company’s name stand out in the same way as those who send a thoughtful gift.
What kinds of gifts should you send?
There is no formula for choosing what kind of gift to send your clients. You can be creative with your ideas as long as you reach a happy medium between too personal and too business-like.
You are sending a warm holiday favor to show your makeup clients that you care, but this is still a business relationship! The more creative you get, the more likely your business’s name is to stand out, but remember that your gift should still be appropriate. Here are some common holiday gifts for business clients!
- Holiday treats (ex. gourmet chocolates, nice Christmas cookies, etc.)
- Branded mug and warm holiday drink (ex. coffee, tea, hot chocolate)
- Small, affordable technologies (ex. branded USB memory sticks)
- Gifts that people might actually use (ex. a nice quality stationery set).
Even though you want your gifts to be simple and affordable, avoid giving your customers something too cheap that might be viewed as junk or thrown away!
Consider gifting things that actually relate to your business as well. You might choose to send a holiday-themed makeup product from your clients’ favorite brand. There are many different options. Choose something appropriate that your clients will appreciate!
What kinds of gifts should you be cautious about?
The gifts you choose for your clients are your choice, but there are some things that smart business people try to avoid. Be wary of giving the following gifts!
- Blatant advertising products or things that are too business-like can seem cold around the holidays. Sure, discount cards for your makeup services might be useful, but are your clients really thinking about your latest low-price deal during their family holiday?
- Some companies make charitable donations on their clients’ behalf, but this is very risky. What if they don’t support the same causes as you?
- Gift cards for businesses other than your own can be a nice gesture. Everyone needs gas and groceries! If you choose this, though, make sure that it’s a large enough chain that your clients will have access to a location, so your money is not wasted.
- Holiday treats are a common gift, but be careful. People can be wary about accepting food. Consider common allergies and avoid things with nuts. Choose packaged treats like chocolates, or baked goods from a reputable local business. Someone might feel uncomfortable receiving a chicken potpie that you cooked yourself and put in an unlabeled box, even if your intentions are good and the pie is delicious!
There are many perks to sending client gifts during the holidays, but it’s not mandatory. If you believe that it’s an uncomfortable practice, or your clientele is one that largely doesn’t celebrate Christmas, you’re not obligated to participate in a gift exchange. Consider which practice is best for both you and the people you do business with, and remember that friendly favors during Christmas time can be positive for business relationships.