When I was younger, my mom - who is a physical therapist - made holiday gift baskets for the doctors who referred patients to her private practice. I remember helping her painstakingly fill baskets with different fruits, snacks, and wine and wrap them up in cellophane. Once everything was ready, we would drive around town to personally deliver the gifts to all the doctors.
My mom recognized that holiday gifting is a must for anyone serving clients. Why? At the end of the day, many of the services provided are very similar to other providers and what builds client loyalty is a strong relationship. Holiday gifting is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate gratitude to the people who support your business, which is why it’s a common practice among client-centric companies these days. In this post, I want to explore how the current state of holiday gifting came to be and explain why I believe the status quo approach of fruit baskets, wine, and gift cards is no longer exciting (never really was) and relevant.
The current state of holiday gifts
If you work at a law firm, media and advertising agency, or accounting firm, you may have been pulled in to help brainstorm client gifts. “Should we just do the same baskets as last year?” Quite the brainstorm - the truth is many organizations end up sending the same thing every year: a bottle of wine, a basket filled with fruit and snacks, or a box of branded swag. There are a couple of reasons why people resort to the “same old, same old” every holiday:
- Save time. If you have a lot of clients, holiday gifts take up a ton of time, money, and resources. You have to collect the addresses of all your clients, hand-write ‘thank you’ notes for each person (signed by your entire team) and do the “holiday shipping hustle” to ensure your clients receive them before leaving for vacation. I’m guessing the last thing you want to do is put in even more time to think of a unique and creative gift idea - which is why you default to the infamous Edible Arrangement.
- It’s safe. Very few people hate receiving a bottle of Pinot Noir or a harmless box filled with snacks. It’s a generic gift with little room for misinterpretation or misuse. In other words, it’s safe. And most people would rather stick to the known than take the risky route of trying to send a creative client gift that’s funny, personal, or unique - out of fear that it won’t be received kindly.
The current state of holiday gifts is born out of checking the box, “Did we send a gift?”. We need to rethink the Check the Box mentality when it comes to holiday gifts because it is rife with problems.
The problem with fruit baskets
I have nothing against fruit - I actually love fruit more than anyone else I know. In fact, I go to my local grocery store every week just to pick out the best honeydew, cantaloupe, cherries, and apricots (they’re all in season now) and eat all of it within a few days. But that’s exactly my point. It’s so easy for me to walk over to a supermarket and grab the fruit that I’m craving. The same goes for wine - I know what brand I like, so I prefer to buy it for myself.
Here are three reasons we need to move away from Harry & David baskets and that not-so-special Oregon Pinot:
- Baskets are impersonal. As I mentioned before, fruit baskets are generic. There’s nothing personal about them - nothing that tells the client you have a close relationship with them or know anything about their hobbies or interests. This makes it unlikely that the recipient will cherish this gift. It could spoil, get regifted to the company break room - or worse, get passed along to Uncle James during White Elephant festivities.
- Baskets are not memorable. You can assume that if you sent your client a status quo gift, there are going to be a handful of others who did the same thing. How will yours stand out? The answer is that it won’t. Because if you go with a forgettable gift, you risk being forgotten.
- Baskets provide no value. Finally, generic gifts don’t deliver excitement or improve someone’s life. I struggle to come up with the value of current holiday gifts beyond just the gesture itself. Fruit baskets, Trader Joes-bought wine, and swag miss the opportunity to deliver deepen the relationship with your client and convey actual gratitude - which is the whole point of the gift.
A new way to approach holiday gifts
There’s a better way, and the answer is experiential gifts. With this approach, you’re letting your clients choose their own adventure from a wide selection of experiences. Here’s why I believe experiences makes a powerful holiday gift:
- They create memories. Memories produce strong emotional connections.That’s why tasting a pot roast might take you back to your childhood. Or watching a throwback television show reminds you of your college days (Gilmore Girls, anyone?) These emotional ties are long-lasting and make an impression on you as the gift sender. Wine and fruit baskets don’t create memories, but giving your client the opportunity to take their son to his first Yankees game, spin the wheel at a pottery class, or indulge in a Michelin star dining experience with their partner, does. Not to mention, the stories that come with these unique client gifts spread virally, giving you the opportunity to increase referral volume as your client recounts their hot air ballooning adventure at the next company networking event.
- They develop positive associations. As a client-driven organization, you want to be tied to as many positive associations with your client. One way to do this is to make them feel valued - which you won’t achieve by sending a generic gift. In the absence of knowing how to be personal, the power of recipient choice becomes optimal. There is evidence that experiential gifts make both the giver and receiver feel closer and more connected, and sharing a valuable memory reinforces the business relationship you’ve worked so hard to build.
- They inspire brand loyalty. Positive associations with your company eventually evolve into brand loyalty. Forrester found that emotion is one of the strongest unique drivers of loyalty, which is why it’s so important to develop these meaningful connections with your employees.
How Blueboard can help
If you’re convinced of the merits of experiential rewards, Blueboard can help you out this holiday season. There are tons of reasons why I love our services, but I’ll touch on some of the points I brought up earlier in my post.
First off, our menu of experiences is huge. For adventurous clients, they can go mountain biking or receive private ninja parkour instruction. For the family-oriented, they can get a membership to the local museum or go on a whale watching cruise. And we have tons of options for foodies such as gourmet cooking lessons, sunset wine cruises, local foodie tours and more. There’s literally something for everyone, no matter their unique passions or interests.
Our incredible Concierge Service team works directly with your client recipients to accommodate their preferences and plan out their entire experience, which frees up a ton of time and logistics for your team. We’re servicing client holiday gifts in all 50 states and 25+ countries.
After years of sending bottles of wine and snacks, think about a gift that will stand out in your client’s mind. Whether they decide to go skydiving or spend a day at the aquarium with their kids, they’ll always associate that memory with you and your company. That’s powerful.
I hope you’ll consider taking a step outside of your comfort zone this year and try a new approach to holiday gifting. There are ways to change up the status quo without a big risk or adding more work for yourself. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later.
If you’re interested in learning how Blueboard can help you with your holiday gifting efforts this year, click the orange Request Demo button above ^^. Or feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org - I’d love to hear from you.