The holidays are a fun time to give gifts to friends and loved ones, but what about clients? While every client is different, 9 out of 10 are probably going to be pretty impressed, and grateful, to receive a gift from their legal counsel. But before you begin randomly buying gifts, here are a few things to consider about client gift-giving etiquette that will both bestow warm holiday cheer, and keep your firm out of hot water.

And unless you know first-hand that this will be appreciated, under NO circumstances give fruitcake.

Give Personal Gifts…

Keeping in line with the fruitcake, don’t give gifts that are so generic they appear as though you gave zero time or thought picking them out—because honestly, you didn’t. Throughout your business relationship, you must have picked up on something personal about your client—whether they love a certain sport, hobby, etc. Use this information to customize a gift. And don’t forget gift cards. When pertaining to a certain store or event, a gift card can be highly personal.

But Don’t Gift Too Personal

Anything that’s associated with clothing, perfume or cologne, or jewelry is best to avoid. Not only are these gifts better given/received from a significant other, they’re highly personal choices, and often costly ones. Keep client gift-giving in the same category as giving a gift to an associate at work, and not your best friend or your spouse.

And never give any gift that is religious in nature. This is when your gift should stay as holiday-generic as possible.

Consider The Shelf-Life of Your Gift

Custom foodie baskets and flower arrangements are nice gifts, but they only last for so long. So, give a gift that’s sustainable. Not only does a sustainable gift offer lasting enjoyment, it’s also a reminder when a client looks at it or uses it that your firm is thoughtful—and this reinforces their decision to have hired your firm, or renew their retainer, if applicable.

High End Clients Deserve High End Gifts

While all of your clients are valuable, a client that generates more than 50% of your revenue deserves more than a basket of cheese and fruit. Be sure to spend a little extra on clients that spend so much on you. A wine-tasting tour, 18-holes of golf at a local resort, or a 5-star dinner for two are all acceptable gifts to give a client who has carried a significant portion of your business over the last year (or many).

Develop a Yearlong Strategy

Holiday gifts are an important part of maintaining good client relationships, but to show your true appreciation, send cards of thanks throughout the year. Everyone receives cards and gifts in November/December, so why not send a card or a small gift of appreciation during a non-holiday month when the spotlight will be on you?

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