The end of each year brings the opportunity to thank your clients, partners and suppliers for their support. After all, your business can't operate in a vacuum, so it's thanks to your professional contacts that you are able to operate and grow. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know precisely how to show your gratitude.
When sending a professional thank-you gift, you should walk the line between affordability and respectability. Pragmatic gifts are always a good option for a professional contact because they show you care about their ability to achieve their goals, just as they support you to achieve yours. Alternatively, gifting a professional contact candies or treats they enjoy is a good way to say thank you.
Should I give a gift?
Of course! Your professional contacts are often your lifelines in the business world. While it might be difficult to find the time, saying thank you to these people for all their dedication and support is crucial to maintaining and strengthening these important relationships.
You can send a thank-you note, but expressing your gratitude for a colleague's or employee's hard work with an appropriate gift can be more effective. The same can be true for showing a boss or manager your appreciation for their guidance and leadership.
When should I give a gift?
Birthdays, promotions and the holiday season are some obvious occasions to give gifts. But events such as the completion of an arduous project together would make sense too.
What is a good professional thank-you gift?
If you don't know the colleague (co-worker, employee, manager or professional contact) too well on a personal level, a tool they could use during their workday would be an appropriate gift. A gift package of candy or other food for snacking that they may be able to share with others in the office can be good too (though you'll want to be aware of any dietary preferences or restrictions they might have).
How much should I spend?
You don't have to empty your wallet. The show of appreciation and when the gift is sent are more important. Heed the familiar saying: It's the thought that counts.
To save you the time of researching products – and help you avoid wasting your money on the wrong gift – we've curated this list of 10 gift ideas for under $50.
1. Portable charger
Credit: Anker / Amazon.com
Most professionals are busy people, always on the go and using their phones for calls, emails, texts and more. Maintaining a sustainable battery percentage can seem impossible when commuting to work or running from meeting to meeting. But with the Anker PowerCore 10000, your recipient won't have to find an outlet and stay put until their phones power up again; they can charge their phones in full while still catching their train.
2. Windproof travel umbrella
Credit: Repel Umbrella / Amazon.com
It doesn't matter if your contacts live in the big city, a small town or the suburbs – rain happens to all of us, usually at the most inconvenient times, like when we're running late to work or walking 10 blocks to meet a contact for lunch. Your business buddy will appreciate the Repel Windproof Travel Umbrella to keep them dry from even the most brutal storms. Its Teflon coating and nine-rib construction is designed to withstand the elements without turning inside out. It even comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee.
3. Lindt Swiss Luxury Boxed Chocolate
Credit: Lindt / Amazon.com
You can hardly go wrong with chocolates, and there are plenty of high-end chocolatiers to choose from. These boxes of heaven by Lindt come in 5.1, 7.3 and 14.6 ounces, ranging in price from less than $15 to $33. They contain European-style truffles made of milk, dark and white chocolate. You can make this a one-time purchase, or you can really treat your professional contact by getting them a subscription for a new box to be delivered every three months.
Credit: Yankee Candle / Amazon.com
Candles are great pick-me-ups, especially during the colder months in the office. To play it safe, choose a more basic scent, like this festive Balsam & Cedar Yankee Candle. Its paraffin-grade wax should burn for 110 to 150 hours. Other Yankee Candle scents include Crisp Citrus, Herbs, Musk, Red Berry, Sandalwood and Vanilla.
5. Engraved pen/stylus
Credit: Moulden Studios / Amazon.com
Even in the digital age, most professionals still need a pen at some point of their day, and a sleek, high-quality pen screams success. These pens from Moulden Studios are available in one of four colors (black, blue, green or red) that you pick, and their ends are fitted with a stylus that can be used on a smartphone, tablet or other touchscreen device. These pens are meant to be personalized, so Moulden Studios will engrave your contact's name or a brief saying you choose (no more than 20 characters) onto a pen. Be sure to double-check your spelling!
Credit: Moleskine / Amazon.com
Professionals can never have too many notebooks. Anyone can buy a cheap, simple notebook from the office supply store, or maybe they already have access to lots of them in their office's supply room. But you can give a notebook that's a bit nicer, such as the ones by Moleskine. Its classic model is low-cost but also looks professional for your contact to jot down lists and notes inside while they're in the boardroom or office. It features thick ivory paper and a leather-like cover with various color choices available.
7. Insulated coffee mug
Credit: Métier Atelier / Amazon.com
It happens to all of us: We grab a cup of coffee from the office break room, sit down at our desk, and then get lost in a sea of emails and tasks. Before we know it, we're sipping on a cold cup o' joe. With an insulated mug, like this Toolbar coffee mug (which is also designed for tea or any other hot beverage), drinks will stay warm for longer, so your professional contact can enjoy their coffee all morning. It holds up to 10 ounces of hot goodness.
8. Personalized stationery
Credit: Curio Press / Amazon.com
Gift stationery, personalized with your professional contact's name and business information, can show how thoughtful you are of their communications and the traditional ways of keeping in touch that can still be important in the modern business world. They can use the cards to write their own general hellos, notes, lists and thank-yous. The Curio Press Graceful Script stationery set lets you choose the card size, envelope color and ink color. You can customize the name on the card and add a return address to the envelope. Curio Press uses 100-pound white cardstock paper.
9. Letter board
Credit: AIMIUR / Amazon.com
Inspiration is a crucial aspect of office design. With this 10 x 10-inch letter board by AIMIUR, your professional contact can assemble their favorite quotes, or original ones, with the included felt letters. This set comes with a bag of 580 letters, numbers and symbols. The finished sign can be propped up on their desk or hung on a wall to display a splash of encouragement and motivation. This reusable sign can also be handy for announcing special events or tracking milestones in their office.
10. Gift card
When all else fails and you don't know what to get for a particular contact, there's the gift card option. A gift card to a business that they could patronize during their workday makes the most sense, such as Starbucks. You could also just go for an Amazon gift card, since they can buy nearly anything at their own convenience from this major online store. Amazon gift cards can be purchased in preset amounts from $25 to $150. You can also personalize a message of up to 500 characters to accompany the card.
Sammi Caramela and Jennifer Post contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.