This year, choose creative holiday gifts that are sure to make a splash with customers and top performers.
Buy tickets to the symphony and have a messenger deliver them to your client's office “wrapped” in a colorful bouquet of flowers or balloons; head to the grocery store, and fill a mixing bowl with a roll of cookie dough, baking sheets, cookie cutters, and a spatula; or fill a colander with pasta, fresh parmesan cheese, and a selection of pasta sauces.
Appliances can be creative, too — like a Belgian waffle iron, popcorn popper, ice cream maker, or smoothie maker. Let your imagination run wild.
The suggestions below are sure to be appreciated because they're anything but … cookie cutter.
Dinner a Deux
Everything … and candlelight! Delightfuldeliveries.com has put together just the right combination for a great meal. They've even included a printed menu and two heart-shaped floating candles. The dinner includes salmon chowder, two 8 oz. Metropolitan Grill sirloin cuts, two 6 oz. Smokehouse Salmon Dinner Fillets, and dessert. And, the dinner ships on ice. $82.95 at www.delightfuldeliveries.com
Shaken or Stirred
Whether martini lovers like their drink shaken or stirred, with olives or onion, one thing is for sure: the cocktail must be icy cold. This Cubist Martini Set exclusively from redEnvelope.com includes four cone-shaped, mouth-blown glasses. The espresso-colored wooden tray holds glass cubes securely in place to keep drinks just shy of freezing. $65 at www.redenvelope.com
This is the perfect gift for the chocolate lover. The Chocolate Indulgence Gift Tower with Signature Ribbon by Godiva is a generous array of their nut and caramel assortment, solid chocolate assortment, eight-piece truffle assortment, and a 1/4 lb. Gold Ballotin, tied with the Godiva signature ivory ribbon. $78 at www.godiva.com
Eggsactly What I Wanted!
Here's a frivolous, fun, but functional gift: a toaster that makes your own breakfast sandwich. The egg and muffin toaster can simultaneously: 1) toast the bread; 2) cook an egg; and 3) warm a pre-cooked slice of ham or sausage — or any combination of these three functions. $49.99 at www.backtobasicsproducts.com
Who says cufflinks have to be stodgy? How about the ones inspired by the game of Scrabble? Give a pair to your favorite wordsmith with the tiles A and Z or the recipient's initials. Tokens & Coins also puts Scrabble tiles on bracelets, keychains, and necklaces. $75 at www.tokens-coins.com
Get Up … Gently
Kill the buzzer. The Progression Wakeup Clock from Hammacher Schlemmer uses a gradual increase in ambient light, stimulating aromas, and peaceful sounds from nature to awaken sleepers. Thirty minutes before wake-up time, the clock's light begins to glow softly, subtly brightening over the next half hour. Sound selection includes thunderstorms and ocean surf. $49.95 at www.hammacher.com
Sip and Dip
The Wine Country Spa Splendor gift basket from FTD includes a California chardonnay from the Frei Brothers as well as dry-roasted peanuts, Harvest Sweets key lime chocolate truffles, and Ghirardelli chocolate squares. The spa goodies consist of papaya green French soap plus an assortment of spa products, including bath salts and lotions. $89.99 at www.ftd.com
Nothing beats a pleasant round of carpet putting for clearing one's mind at the office. The Sharper Image's Executive Putting Set includes a high-quality putter that breaks down into four pieces, plus a target cup that sends the ball back to you. The entire set (including three balls) fits neatly into an aluminum travel case. $49.95 at www.sharperimage.com
A Gift That Grows
Plant a tree in someone's name through Trees for Life, a nonprofit organization that helps to plant fruit trees in developing countries. These trees provide a low-cost, self-renewing source of food for many people and protect the environment. $100 will buy 100 trees. (You can order as few as 10 for $10.) www.treesforlife.org
With so much time on airplanes, people need a break from their books and laptops. This New York Times deluxe screen crossword puzzle comes with 1,000 puzzles, and its touch screen and stylus work just like a PDA. $77.95 from www.e-corporategifts.com
Power Tie … Rack
For the executive who has everything: a motorized, rotating tie rack capable of holding 72 ties in 9 inches of space. $69.95 from www.sharperimage.com
Green means the market is down, red means it's up. Brookstone's Ambient Orb slowly transitions among thousands of colors as the market fluctuates. The Orb is preconfigured to track the Dow but can be programmed to mirror the NASDAQ, the S&P 500, or your own portfolio. $127.50 from www.brookstone.com
Write in Class
Everyone knows that a pen makes a strong business statement. So why not choose a pen such as the Coin Edge ballpoint that will last forever and is made of the finest genuine sterling silver? $185 from www.tiffany.com
Enjoy a night at the movies without leaving home. This Movie Time gift basket includes a $10 Blockbuster movie card, Pringles, popcorn, beef jerky, and macadamia nut cookies, among other goodies. $51.45 at www.bluechopsticks.com
Give the best of the best in beef from Omaha Steaks: six (6 oz.) tender and juicy filet mignons. This elegant cut is guaranteed to impress with exceptional taste and texture. Omaha Steaks starts with premium, grain-fed beef that is naturally aged. $59.99 at www.omahasteaks.com
5 Tips for Client Gifts
Plan early, and budget far in advance for your gift-giving.
Make all the gifts the same value unless you have distinctive levels of clients.
Make sure the gift is appropriate and reflects you, your company, and the service you provide.
Ask yourself, “Will my clients accept this as a token of our relationship?”
Be sensitive to your clients' religious preferences. Emphasize the message of appreciation without a heavy religious message (unless you are known for your spirituality).
Source: Dana May Casperson, author of Power Etiquette: What You Don't Know Can Kill Your Career (2005, AMACOM). ©2005; all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from Entrepreneur.com.