With the holidays approaching, business professionals everywhere are wondering how they are going to get through the season without going broke – especially at the end of a year that was, for many, anything but ROBUST. Fear not, my friends, I have some simple, affordable solutions.

First choice: a photo of you with your client in a fab picture frame! Not only is it thoughtful, but your client will get to see your pretty face sitting on their desk or credenza  – at least be reminded of a fun time. C’mon, you have a camera on your phone, don’t you? Next time you are taking your client to lunch – or even in a conference room or their office for a meeting, whip out your cell and snap a close up of the two you laughing. If you play golf with your client – a photo of you together on the course is IDEAL!

Need some CHEAP (ahem…I mean AFFORDABLE) frames? Try T.J. Maxx or Home Goods. They have TONS of frames – everything from business/leather to seashells to “Girls Night Out” – and they are mostly under $10. Imagine being able to give TEN clients customized, thoughtful gifts for less than $100!!!

(Okay, to be PERFECTLY HONEST, it will run a little more by the time you splurge on glossy printing paper, toner, and gift wrap – but compared to buying lavish gifts like massages or Mont Blanc pens – like I USED to – this gift is crazy cheap and super thoughtful.) Oh – and BTW – I get my toner and paper and MOST of my office supplies on Ebay for savings that make me wonder why office supply stores are still in business!

If you’re like me and fancy yourself a bit of a “Martha Stewart” (ie: Creative, love to cook, etc.), the

Even Grocery Store Cookies Look Amazing When Served on a Pedestal

possibilities are endless. Here’s a gem of an idea: Drop off a gourmet treat (home baked or store bought) on a beautiful serving platter. Even grocery store treats will look scrumptious when they are offered on an elegant cake plate or crystal dish. This is also a SUPER hostess gift idea! Your client (or hostess) gets to keep the wonderful serving platter (or dish or stand) AND enjoy a yummy treat. I have found extraordinary serving pieces at the discount home shops around town.

At parties, a hostess will say “Let me clean the serving piece you brought so you can take it home.” I reply, “No, that’s for YOU, for being such an outstanding hostess!” They get to KEEP the platter – and they will think of you EVERY TIME THEY USE IT!

Try to find gifts that are “sticky” – in other words, something that your client will want to hang on to. If

Hats with Logos are Always a HIT!

they are a sports fan, score some logo’d merchandise for them. You don’t have to go into a sports memorabilia store for a signed photo or limited edition item. If they love golf, you can pick up a logo’d hat or visor for less than $20. If they love football, get them a coffee mug with their team logo. (This is a great idea – UNLESS you’re client is a fan of the Cleveland Browns. I’m from

The Cleveland Browns – Great Fans, Lousy Logo!

Cleveland, so please forgive me for saying this, but WHERE is our logo? Brown is just a COLOR – ya know? We don’t have a dolphin, a bear, a patriot, or even a star! We don’t have Bengal strips or ram horns. The Browns are just brown & orange. Really? It doesn’t matter; they have some of the greatest FANS in the history of the game!)

Your client won’t care WHAT you give them – IF it’s promoting their team, favorite athlete, or activity. It’s the THOUGHT that counts – and logo’d merchandise is incredibly thoughtful.

By now, you’re getting the picture. THINK about what your client enjoys (yes, that takes a BIT of effort!) If they are female, don’t risk personal items such as perfume or pocketbooks. If they travel, a travel alarm clock is a great choice – or even fancy luggage tags! Business books are great, too, especially for the executive on the rise. How about a book on Etiquette? As a speaker who touches on that subject, I can assure you that most people would LOVE to have the dos and don’ts when it comes to etiquette. And so on. The possibilities for giving a wonderful gift are not tied to your pocketbook or wallet. Just get creative and – in a pinch – you can always ask their assistant where a person’s outside interests lie.

Last but not least, you could send your clients a notice that you are writing and posting a recommendation for them on Linked In. This does not cost you a dime – just some of your time. Imagine getting a note from a vendor or associate that reads: “You’ve been so amazing to work with this past year that, in the spirit of holiday giving, I am giving you a recommendation on Linked In. I will also be making a donation in your name to _____ (list your charity here).” Isn’t that incredibly thoughtful? You can make a single donation to your favorite charity and rather than shop and go crazy, just spend a few quite evenings writing recommendations for your clients.

Here is a brief video about a response I got a few weeks ago after deciding to post a Linked In recommendation for a colleague. Happy Holidays!