Holiday Gift-Giving From the Heart

December 13, 2012 3:18:30 PM PST
Gift giving should come from the heart, not out of a sense of obligation. Giving a gift -- whether money or an object -- is how we express how we care about someone in a special and extra way. Below I'll discuss how to navigate the thorny waters of gift giving; whether to give a personal gift, gift cards, checks or cash; whom to give gifts to: and whether to send holiday cards.

Give a Gift or Cash?

When you take the time and effort to give a nicely wrapped gift especially chosen for someone, it's an exceptional delight. It shows you know their likes and preferences. To me, it's the ultimate way of thanking someone and showing how much you care about them. No gift card or money can ever express the same emotions. So how do you get to know what to give? During conversations throughout the year, ask leading questions such as, "Do you like certain kinds of wine?" "What do you like to do to relax?" "Do you enjoy reading?" "What kind of books?" These questions will give you the clues you need to select the right gifts. Those who receive such personalized gifts from you will be most surprised to see how you remembered and acted upon the knowledge you learned.

When it comes to cash-like gifts, I prefer a check or gift card, such as a Visa/MC card or a store card I know the person will like. When people take the extra step of redeeming the card or cashing a check, they will remember you as the gift-giver. I like it better than just giving cash that might be lumped in with other funds and spent without thought. I want the person to use the funds to purchase something they would not otherwise buy for themselves.

Keep in mind that it's not about the money, how much money, or the amount spent on a gift. You could give homemade fruitcake, cookies, or jams. It's all about a combination of what you can afford and the intention behind what you give.

Whom to Gift?

One of the biggest dilemmas people face this time of year is whether to tip or give a gift to someone who has provided year-round services, or people at the office. While this list can seem overwhelming, keep in mind that I list everyone you might consider gifting, and not everyone is a requirement:

1. Year-Round Service Providers

  • Apartment / Condo Building staff (such as the Superintendent, Doorman, Engineers, and Housekeeping)
  • Pet Care, Dog Walker
  • Private physician, dentist when engaged year-round
  • Home Caregiver, Nurse
  • Trash Collector
  • House staff (Housekeeper, Babysitter, Nanny, Landscape / lawnmower, Gardener, Pool keeper, etc.)
  • Child or Elderly Day Care facility and staff
  • Home delivery person (such as newspaper, mail, trash, and bottled water)
  • Personal Coach/Trainer/Activity Instructor
  • Beautician, Hairdresser, Stylist, Manicurist, Massage Therapist,
  • Private Club servers

2. Office staff and Service Providers

  • Boss / Supervisor / Manager
  • Assistant
  • Employees and Staff
  • Delivery people such as Postal, UPS, FedEx, and coffee/water
  • Vendors and Suppliers
Gifting Clients and Customers

A holiday card with a personalized message is always nice to send. Annual desk or wall calendars are also very common. Depending on budget and the number of corporate gifts you wish to send, there are an infinite number of ideas a company can implement to show someone they care. The key is to give a gift you know the receiver will value and enjoy. If you want help with this, email me for other corporate gift-giving guidelines.

A Word about Holiday Cards

Even with the advent of email and a desire to go green, I still believe in the power of a holiday card as a gift unto itself, especially to those you may not see during the regular year and who may live far away. When a person receives a holiday card, the value is more highly regarded than in times past.

A generic card with only a pre-printed name or company name on it, however, does not make a statement that you care. Personalize it with a handwritten note or letter, and hand address the envelope. Use a regular postage stamp... not a metered stamp.

Lastly, as much as you may be among those who "can't stand" receiving those pages of tiny print typed holiday letters that chronicle a friend's entire year's activities and other news, it is another way to stay in touch with that person over time. Gather up these letters on a Sunday morning with a warm blanket and a warm cup of tea or coffee (or maybe a bloody Mary?) and enjoy reading them to stay in touch. Friendships are maintained when you stay involved in each other's lives, no matter the distance across the globe.

An Old-Fashioned Way to Stay in Touch

And speaking of staying in touch, if you're not the holiday card-sending type, another nice gift to people, whether friends or in business, is to give them a call. With Skype and other free calling methods for anywhere in the world, this is fast becoming the most economical and personal way to stay in touch with family, friends, and business clients and associates.


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