Around the holidays, the topic of gift giving is one that can turn into contentious debate. People often lament the commercialization of the season and how it has taken away from the true reason for celebrating the holidays this time of year. Parents, myself included, become laser focused on getting the perfect gifts for their little ones. This may or may not have included standing in line at a store at 4AM to get the “hot toy” of the season (excuse me while have nightmare flashbacks of the year of the Hatchimal craze…shudder).
By the time we get done with all the present buying, gift wrapping, casserole baking, party going and so on, we’re beat. And often in the hustle and bustle of everything going on, we forget about those that we work with each day or those that enable us to be successful in our businesses, customers and vendors. Or, maybe you don’t forget, but you essentially “mail it in” when it comes to their gifts. An impersonal plate of cookies bought in bulk, a cheesy ornament branded with your company name, a Starbucks card, the list goes on… You can never underestimate impact a personal thank you can have on building relationships.
No matter your size or industry, authentic ways of saying thank you are critical to success. Here are a few ideas to get you out of the commercialized, “mail it in” gift giving this holiday season:
- Give something that has meaning — to you or your recipients. Small companies, may consider personalizing each gift to the recipient. For example, instead of giving a Starbucks card to the coffee lover, perhaps a gift card to their favorite local coffee shop instead with an invitation to catch up in the new year. For larger companies, it may be difficult to personalize each gift. Instead, consider giving something that helps your customers and vendors get to know you a little better. One of my favorite vendors in the past gave a gift box full of Baklava. The owners of the company practice Islam and this was their way of sharing a piece of their culture (a super sweet one) with their customers.
- Remember the little guy or gal. When putting together your list of people and businesses to give to, don’t forget the often overlooked individuals that make your job easier like your mail deliverer, the cleaning service that keeps your office sparkling and professional or the customer that has a small budget but is a cheerleader for your success and sharing your name with others.
- It’s not about the money. Often the gift that cost almost nothing means far more than the gift that cost less than a dollar to produce. The gifts my children make for me each year carry far more value than anything they could ever purchase. At a nonprofit I worked at for several years, we would often have the youth in our programs created personal thank you notes to send to donors. Sometimes we added a plate of cookies or loaf of pumpkin bread with the card, but it was the card that people remembered.
- It’s never too late. Maybe the season got ahead of you and before you know it, you are running out of time. Crap! Or not… Go purchase some cards from the store and spend an afternoon writing notes of gratitude to those that have impacted you in the past year. Even less time? Just pick up the phone and say thank you. A thank you is a gift in unto itself.
- Shop local or purchase items with a social impact. Whenever possible, shop local with your gift giving. Even if you are a large company with multiple locations, the knowledge that your gift is making a difference to a small business or local company will be appreciated. You could also consider purchasing items from a socially conscious company that shares proceeds with a nonprofit or itself employs individuals working their way out of poverty.
At the end of the day, gift giving and receiving should create joy on both sides. The holidays are a great time to reflect on all those who have positively impacted your success and say thank you. Be thankful. Say thank you. It really is that simple.
Heading my own advice, I would like to say thank you to my amazing clients, vendors and friends who have supported me in my professional journey.