If you are on the fence about giving your clients a holiday gift this year let’s be clear that you definitely should. Showing your clients that you care can really go a long way in strengthening your relationship. Don’t look at client gifts as a promotional tool or a way to bring in more sales. Use the opportunity to invest in your relationship with your client. Your gift should be a genuine expression of gratitude. If you get it right, you will guarantee that the client continues to do business with you for years to come. That’s much more valuable than squeezing one more sale out of them before the end of the holiday season. But, picking the perfect gift can be quite the challenge.

Here are some client gift ideas to steer clear of this holiday season and some helpful alternatives:

Gifts to Avoid at All Costs

Promotional Items

Promotional items of any kind are a big “no-no.” They come off as insincere, cheap, and just plain tacky. These are marketing tools that you should be giving away for free throughout the year. Your client will not be impressed with a grab bag of pens, notepads, and t-shirts with your company logo emblazoned across them. A bottle of wine in and of itself is not a bad gift, but, as soon as you slap a label with your logo, or even worse a picture of your face, on the bottle, it quickly turns into one of the worst holiday client gifts.

“This is the most obvious and desperate looking strategy to stay top of mind on the planet. Was your deal so dull and uneventful that you think your client is actually going to forget your name?!” –Emile L’Eplattenier for www.theclose.com

What you can do instead: Gift your clients with an exclusive sneak peek of one of your products or services that haven’t hit the open market yet.

Generic Gift Cards

You want your clients to feel like you really know them. Sending a generic gift card will make you look out of touch and thoughtless.

What you can do instead: Find out what their favorite local restaurant or coffee shop is and send them a gift card or certificate there instead. You’ll be supporting another small business and they will appreciate that you remembered it was their favorite place, or at least that you took the time to find out.

A Meal Out…With You

No offense, but your clients probably don’t want the gift of listening to your next sales pitch this holiday season, even if it’s over dinner.

What you can do instead: Arrange a client appreciation night. Clients will enjoy the opportunity to meet and network with one another. Do most of your clients have families? Organize a kids’ holiday party to show your clients that you care about their whole family.

Canned Greeting Cards

Don’t send clients pre-printed and impersonal holiday greeting cards. They’re going straight in the trash.

What you can do instead: If you’re on a tight budget, but still want to let your clients know you are thinking of them this holiday season, send them a holiday greeting card. They key here is to make it personal. A photo card with a handwritten note can go a long way.

“Bill Bachrach, founder of Bachrach & Associates, a financial advisor coaching firm, also says that personalizing is key. ‘I love the family photo cards and the cheesy form letters about what’s going on in our lives this year,’ he says. ‘The hokier and the more real the better—why not send your clients the same thing you send to your friends and family?’”-www.wealthmanagement.com

The Bottom Line–Don’t Miss the Point

“Recipients who reported receiving a memorable gift are 33 percent more likely to state that they feel more connected to the brand and 20 percent more likely to alter their behavior as a result, according to our research.” – Laura Jennings, CEO of Knack for Entreprenur.com

Client gifts can be memorable and personalized without breaking the bank. Remember that client gifts are in fact about the client, not about you or your business. Keep in mind that while your price point for client gifts should be consistent, all clients don’t have to receive the exact same gift. Give a gift relative to what they’ve contributed to your business and personalize gifts to each client’s interests. It will take a little more time and effort, and you may have to stalk their social media accounts, but the extra work will be worth it.