sly : marketing

Should we buy gifts to our clients for Christmas?

Think about this for a few minutes. It might be part of your customer loyalty programs for small business.

I was drinking tea

I watched a woman with a gift in her hand. The gift was wrapped in red paper, and I could see a Santa on the card, as she passed me in the hall. I was holding my cup of tea. I could barely say hi to her. I was looking at the gift. She works at the local newspaper, and she was about to meet one of her clients for the last meeting before Christmas Eve. I met the client a few minutes before her, but I didn’t bring any gifts, and I received a cup of tea. Looking at this woman… I’m feeling a little… embarrassed.

Should we bring gifts to our clients for Christmas?

I love gifts. I really do. And I love to see a happy face. But I have never thought about giving gifts to my clients. I know it will help us bond, and I know that it will help me to create strong relationship with clients, but I still keep thinking that a gift for Christmas is a little too much.

I haven’t sent them a Christmas card. It’s not that I don’t care about them, because I really do. It’s just that I want them to want me for my skills, and I don’t want a gift to have any impact on the reason they want me to work for them.

But, I really appreciate them, and I want them to know it. How do I show how much I appreciate them if I don’t give them anything other than my business – and at the same time, they’re receiving gifts from my competition?

Bring them gifts and they’ll be your customers forever

I watched the woman smile as he opened the door. I watched him smile as she gave him the gift. I was standing outside, looking at the woman doing something really smart. I was holding me cup of tea, still thinking that I didn’t want to be part of it. I know that if I buy gifts, they’ll want me even more. It’s part of how we build relationships.


I want them to want me for who I am, and for the job I’m currently doing. If I give them gifts, I won’t know for sure.

Your opinion on gifts

Are you giving gifts to clients? Are you receiving gifts from clients?

Merry Christmas.

23 responses to “Should we buy gifts to our clients for Christmas?”

  1. Hi Jens-Petter. Not sure if I can say Jens ?

    In many companies these “season” gifts are centralized, and then distributed using a fair sytem (lottery). So how do you make these gifts really appreciated by those receiving them?

    I think the best way to do this is by giving a “group gift”, and not only the boss making the decisions. This can be a box of chocolates, a bowl of candy, etc… going for more expensive gifts seems inappropriate. Creativity counts here.

    Giving to those who need it more than the decision makers you are trying to reach is a noble thought in times of Christmas: giving money to charity.

    What do you think?



    • Hi Tom,

      Yes, you can call me Jens 🙂

      I agree with you. A gift for Christmas shouldn’t just be part of marketing, it should be an act of kindness. Maybe I’ll do it next year, this year is too soon for my business. I need a few more months.

      I love gifts. I guess I’m just a little worried that businesses giving gifts are not doing it for anything other than business purposes – and that shouldn’t be part of Christmas.

  2. Lisa says:

    I’ve been in sales for years and it seems there are not many doing the “gift giving thing” anymore as they used to. Same for cards. I sometimes feel like it’s bribery.
    It’s a very gray area Jens. (not sending cards, but the gift giving).

  3. Carolyn says:

    Hi Jens, Such a tricky issue. You’re right, if we give the gifts, it might be seen as too much but if we don’t and our competitor does, will we be seen as lacking?

    It also ties into the question you asked in your last post, do promotional gifts help?

    Since budgets are limited, is it better to spend money on promotional gifts or Christmas gifts?

    Great topic, Jens!

    • I believe that they help if the gifts are different and unique, and not just what everybody is buying. And the more personal the gifts are, the more impact they’ll make. But, on the other hand, I am not sure if I want the gifts to have any impact on my customers 🙂

  4. Sapna says:

    HI Jens

    Let’s have a pragmatic approach to your issue.
    If you think the skillset of yours is rarest of rare, you give a damn to these gift and infact think of getting gifts from them?

    You have the answer in this.Please don’t consider me rude.

    Thanks once again for this thought provoking post.


  5. Adrienne says:

    I know that in corporate America a lot of the larger organizations give gifts to their bigger clients. I think that cards are just as sufficient and at least you know that they are being thought of.

    I agree though that you want to be known for the work that you provide more then the gift that you give. I think you’re just going to have to feel this one out as you move into another year in business.

    I’m not sure how I will handle this either as I move into the new year. Huh, great question actually and thanks for getting me to think about this one.

    Merry Christmas!


    • I believe that’s the same in Norway. I know many that are giving gifts to their bigger clients. I probably should have given gifts to mine as well, but I’m having a hard time doing it, especially since I have a fairly new business. Things will be different next year, but I’ll probably just send some personal Christmas cards 🙂

      Merry Christmas Adrienne.

  6. I agree with you Jens!

    This IS a tricky situation and one really can’t say much about this. However, personally speaking too – if I had a choice I wouldn’t – and in-fact have never given any gift for Christmas either. Not that I didn’t want to, but much for the same reason as yours, and even though I am not into sales, nor into marketing – but just isn’t something I’ve done.

    Yes, I do send out Christmas or new Year cards – or just Seasonal Greetings – but those are again just once a year. And I know they are out of goodwill – to my old and new clients both. It doesn’t bother me if I receive any from them or not – just that I love sending it to them and it’s a nice way to keep in touch too. 🙂

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year as well 🙂

    • It sure is a tricky question, and I am not sure if there is just one answer. It all depends on who you are and who you are giving the gifts to.

      I am going to send Christmas cards next year. I love receiving them, and it shows my clients that I am thinking of them and that I really appreciate them. But, instead of spending a lot of money on them, I’ve added my creativity to how the cards will look and I’ve added some thought in what I’ve written on the cards 🙂

      Merry Christmas Harleena 🙂

  7. Good topic. I believe that sending a card, with a hanwritten, personalized message is certainly appropriate, and in many ways much better than a gift. It shows that you have taken the time to consider your clients on an individual basis. This can also be more economical than the cost of selecting and shipping gifts. The cards with handwritten messages in handwritten addressed envelopes my husband and I receive from companies and people we have done business with are so much better than trinket gifts. To me, the time and thought mean more than the gift. -Vickie

  8. Josh says:

    Hi Jens,

    In some of my prior positions I know the reason we got the business was because of the gifts we gave. It sounds bad, but I was told by one of my contacts that we were viewed as being equivalent to our competitor and thus…

  9. Khaja moin says:

    Givingaways always make people together. I think to increase relation with clients you need to give them a gift pack on such occasions, if you have employees you have to gift them too!
    As of now, I don`t have employees or big clients didn`t tried it.

  10. Tim Bonner says:

    Hi Jens

    I’m really not sure on this one.

    I know when we were offered gifts from clients, where I used to work, we had to be really careful. All gifts had to be logged and sometimes reported to regulators as it was a financial institution. Generally we were advised to thank a client but to graciously refuse a gift.

    Maybe a card would be more appropriate. Although like you, I would hope that your clients would always want you for who you are and the value you bring to them.

    • That’s the same with me when I worked at the University. I couldn’t take the gifts for myself. I had to share them with the co-workers, and if it was something expensive, I should log them. I never received any expensive gifts 🙂

      I’m going to send out some creative cards next year. That’s going to be how I’ll be showing my appreciation for my customers and it’s also a way to show them how creative you are.

  11. Aayna says:

    Hey Jens,
    This is a real issue. You never know whether it is good or bad to give and take gifts from clients. But in my opinion, it is always good to give a small token of love as a gesture for celebrating the festivities. But in any case, the gift should not be taken as a source of attaining other benefits. The gift should be purely a gift. Thanks for raising this question.

  12. Fatima says:

    Customers love it when you remember them on their birthday and other special occasions like Christmas; they feel cared and they feel that they matter. And this is where you earn their loyalty.

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