This time of year is supposed to bring us joy and happiness. Unfortunately, the holidays also bring pressure—especially if you’re a small business pro. All too often, we feel obligated to give big to customers, vendors, employees, and other important people. That’s a lot of individual expenses that add up, at a time when you might be trying to keep within your end-of-year budget.

Then, if you decide to give gifts, a list of questions pops up. What should you give? Should you shop for everyone on your list, or just your key contacts? How much should you spend? What happens if you accidentally leave someone out?

Don’t panic!

Take a breath and do this exercise: pause and try to think of any amazing, earth-shattering holiday gifts you’ve received from past employers or business contacts. I’m willing to bet that list is very short, if not totally blank.

Really, then, it doesn’t make much sense to go nuts and blanket everyone in your small business address book with pricey gifts—they’ll be forgotten in a short time.

Giving options

Now that you’re done with that exercise, hopefully, you can breathe easier and think more clearly about your gift-giving strategy. Let’s take a look at some options.

Tangible present (examples: mugs, pens, business card holders)
Pros: Such things can be useful…and if they have your logo on them, it’s a little marketing piece as well.
Cons: …but do they already have enough of those things? If so, your gift might end up in forgotten in a drawer, or in the trash.

Food (candy, nuts, fruit basket)
Pros: We all eat, and candy is dandy…
Cons: …but what if the recipient is allergic, vegan, diabetic, keeping kosher or under some other restriction? They might not even like what you’re giving.

Charitable donation
Pros: Donations in someone’s name are thoughtful, and they aren’t left with a bulky thing to carry around…
Cons: …but you need to be careful that the charity you’re giving to doesn’t go against the recipient’s political beliefs and has a decent rating (check to see how they measure up).

Gift card
Pros: The recipient gets to pick something they like.
Cons: There aren’t many cons, just a few cautions. If it’s for a store or restaurant, make sure there are locations convenient to the recipient; also, if you choose a Visa card, look for one that doesn’t lose value over time.

Pros: Choosing to give nothing is inexpensive and everyone appreciates your great services and pricing anyway!
Cons: …but there’s a small risk of looking “cheap,” especially if you gave something last year.

Plan of attack

The best gift-giving approach will vary based on your financial situation, clientele, type of small business and other factors. I can’t decide for you, but I can share what I’m doing. Hopefully, you’ll draw some inspiration that will help you in your organization.

Everyone on my list gets custom cards. They’re carefully designed, customized with My Small Business Pro’s logo and surprisingly affordable. If you go that route, make sure the design is non-denominational, so that no one of any faith feels left out. If you opt not to do cards but are considering an email…don’t. They could strike some clients as cheap, impersonal, and your holiday sentiments will be lost in the electronic shuffle. Don’t we already get too much email?

Then, I select gifts for long-time clients. This sends the message that MSBP values our special, extended relationship. For some, I opt for gift cards to Lettuce Entertain You restaurants; there are tons of different spots around Chicago and in other states, so the recipients have a lot of freedom on how to redeem. Another positive about these—Lettuce Entertain You offers a bonus gift card of $25 for every $100 you spend on gift cards from Thanksgiving through Christmas, so your gift-giving dollar goes further. (These I don’t give away—the bonus cards do not work like cash and you must use them between 1/1 and 4/30.) For clients who keep kosher, I give Fannie May candy—their treats are high quality, and they have a strong Chicago connection.

A gift to yourself

The end of the year is the perfect time to give yourself and your small business the gift of financial fitness. Reach out to me at so we can get your QuickBooks file set up and avoid a backlog in the new year, get ready for your 2018 taxes, or whatever accounting needs you may have. Happy Holidays!