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Holiday Season Already? Client Gifting Gets Harder

By Theda C. Snyder

What’s in and what’s out for client gifts this year?

Holiday gift-giving to clients and referral sources was already perilous before the pandemic. With so many people working remotely and many offices maintaining COVID-19 restrictions, even a simple gesture like bringing or sending a tray of Christmas cookies is often impossible.

Watch Out for Rules When Presenting Client Gifts

Many companies have strict rules forbidding employees from accepting any gift of any amount. Try to ask a manager about company rules before making a costly mistake.

Some firms make a sizable charitable contribution at holiday time in honor of their clients. They notify the clients of their gesture by including information about the charity and the gift in their holiday greetings.

Electronic Delivery

Avoid this issue by choosing gifts to be picked up from recipients’ devices. That includes gift cards (always the right size) and event tickets. Almost everyone will appreciate a Starbucks card.

Ideally, you already know enough about this person to choose something they will value. That might be a gift card at a cinema chain or, if you know the player’s favored platform, games such as Xbox or PlayStation. A gift card from Amazon or Target should satisfy anyone. Visa and American Express offer all-purpose gift cards.

One issue with gift cards is the problem of too much credit for the chosen purchase, so some of your gift is wasted, or not enough, so the recipient is forced to dig into their own pocket to buy the desired item — which may not feel like much of a gift.

Let’s Get Physical

If you are able to present physical client gifts, your best choice will be a gift that matches the recipient’s interests. A useful, inexpensive gift is worth more than an expensive one that will be given or thrown away.

In 2022, everyone is a techie. Tech choices include power banks, AirTags, touchscreen gloves, the latest e-reader, or air buds. (Make sure your gift is compatible with the recipient’s device.) Frequent public speakers will appreciate tiny projectors and speakers.

On the analog side, clients may appreciate a handsome umbrella or writing instrument. Every golfer can use more golf balls. On the other hand, anyone who has been around a while already has an inventory of commuter cups and backpacks emblazoned with givers’ logos.

I am repeatedly surprised by how few people use a pocket-size, collapsible device stand (wonderful on an airplane or at the coffee bar). These are so inexpensive, you can order them imprinted with your logo for about a dollar each and tuck one in your holiday card envelope. (Thin bubble wrap might be a good idea.) This is one swag item I do use frequently.

Even if your firm is providing substantial gifts to clients, you may want to send a personal gift to your personal contacts. The firm’s official contact may not be the person you deal with. You may not be able to claim reimbursement, but even a small gift can cement a valuable relationship for your long-term future. Again, make sure to stay within a company’s rules governing employees’ acceptance of gifts.

Keep It Gender Neutral When Sending Client Gifts

Be very careful about any gift that could be construed as more than a business gesture. Any gift that suggests intimacy is a mistake. Similarly, avoid gender-specific gifts. Giving different items to men and women can lead to resentment, no matter how well-meaning. Word does get out.

In Closing, We Would Be Remiss Not to Mention

The Lawyer’s Marketing Journal will help any lawyer turn plans and intentions into action. Your favorite attorney gift recipient will certainly appreciate a three-pack of this beautifully designed, practical, guided journal.

Related: In charge of your firm’s holiday cards? Read Elizabeth Butcher’s helpful “Law Firm Holiday Card Planner.”

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Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workers’ compensation and insurance coverage cases, including COVID-19 related coverage disputes, in person or by video. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 4th Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Amazon.com. Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at SnyderMediations.com and on Twitter @SnyderMediation.

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