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Client Feedback, Service & Teams
3 minute read | 5 years ago

What Every Firm Should Know About Holiday Gifts

Photo of Nathaniel Slavin By: Nathaniel Slavin

It’s that time of year when firms finalize (or start) their holiday gift-giving plans. As a brief Public Service Announcement, we thought we should share some ideas and best practices for folks in the legal industry to consider when sending out holiday gifts.

  1. Know your client’s gift policies. Many companies have very specific gift policies with dollar thresholds. Some have policies that explicitly prohibit gifts. If you’ve never asked or if it’s a new client, find out.
  2. Don’t assume anything. Be sensitive to religious beliefs and avoid sending overtly religious sentiments to large groups of clients without considering their faith.
  3. Be inclusive. One of my favorite examples of thoughtful gift-giving came out of a client feedback interview when the general counsel said, “I don’t need anything. I go to great restaurants, I have tickets to all of the events I want to go to, and I have plenty of wine. But my team never gets recognized. It would be great if [a firm] sent them something by way of appreciation.” That’s such a great message: Be inclusive when sending gifts (and consider the message when you are inadvertently exclusive).
  4. Don’t just send booze. It’s a default for many. But not everyone drinks, and some people that drink have specific tastes. If you know the tastes, cater to them.
  5. Send booze. Craft spirits and craft brews are all the rage. If there is an interesting local distiller/brewer (and you know your client contact would enjoy it), send something from them.
  6. Be practical. I hear over and over again about things like phone chargers, extra battery packs, reusable water bottles or travel coffee mugs and other small things that can be used over and over again. Once branded, they stand out.
  7. Know your clients’ interests. If they like to travel, send a coffee table book of interesting destinations. If they like to cook, send a cookbook with a local flair. If they have long commutes and like audio books, send them a membership to Audible.
  8. Send something for the family, not just the client. Everyone is busy, and we all sometimes sacrifice family time for work. Sending a gift for the whole family demonstrates that you are thinking about them not just in their professional role but in their personal lives.
  9. Send something related to the business. We’ve seen some amazing gifts that are thoughtful reminders the firm is a partner in the business, not just the legal needs.
  10. Send something at some other time of the year. Rather than trying to just get a gift out by the end of the year, recognize other important dates. Whether it’s a change of season, an anniversary of the working relationship or a non-December holiday like Thanksgiving (being grateful for the work and the relationship) or even the New Year (instead of sending a rate increase letter), those holidays are times when you will stand out from the crowd.

So many firms struggle with gift giving, and so many just go through the motions. By thinking differently about the client relationship and being thoughtful in acknowledging that relationship, your gift will effectively show how much you care.