holiday gift Let’s face it: You can put the company logo on just about anything. Coasters, paperweights, pens, mouse pads, stress balls — we’ve seen it all. But if you’re going to really impress your clients with your gift, you’ll have to step away from the generic swag and put some thought into it next year.

Choosing an appropriate gift is crucial for two reasons: You want to show appreciation for your clients and collaborators and spread holiday cheer, but you also want to express something unique about your agency and pique their interest for the year to come.

The right gift can demonstrate the personality and skills of your business that might not be readily visible in your other work. The perfect holiday gift can give clients a fresh idea for a new project, showcase your agency’s expertise or just get the conversation started.

If your holiday gift wasn’t up to par this year, save this holiday gifting checklist for next year.

There are six crucial factors to keep in mind as you design your next company gift.

Your Checklist for the Perfect Agency Gift

1. Think about your audience. Whether it’s a current client or an industry partner, tailoring the gift to your audience will ensure it strikes the right note. Relevant gifts will be kept, while useless, generic gifts will be thrown out or given to the intern.

2. Send a message. Use your gift to convey the right message to your clients and partners. What do you want them to know about you? We were interested in showcasing the diversity of our staff and outlook, so instead of sending a Christmas card, we decided to send a selection of treats from around the world to entice the senses and tell a story about each culture represented at our company. We selected candies from our staff members’ home countries and held taste tests to ensure all the treats would be palatable for our American clients.

3. Make it useful. Providing a functional gift shows that you are thoughtful and ensures your gift won’t end up in the garbage. Plus, whenever clients use the gift, they’ll be reminded of your agency. In the case of Findr Interactive, we decided to give custom laptop bags. This gift was a great choice because of its longevity and usefulness, and it served as a constant reminder to the client that our agency specialized in digital projects.

4. Show them what you can do. Tell a story with your gift by linking its function to your agency’s strengths. A gift that embodies creativity and innovation will reflect those qualities to your client.

5. Show quality and uniqueness. One of the greatest gifts we received recently was a Moscow Mule cocktail kit from Time Warner. It came in a custom-made box with the ingredients and two beautiful copper cups that the drink is traditionally served in. It was presented creatively and stood out from the more traditional gifts we received.

6. Add a personal touch. A handwritten note, a reference to an inside joke or something unique about the recipient will endear the client to you more than an impersonal form letter. One year, we printed our own wrapping paper with staff caricature portraits. This was a fun way to show our clients that we are diverse, creative, nontraditional and a little goofy.

The holidays are a time for giving, but all too often, we lose sight of the meaning behind our gifts. We should give to express appreciation and send holiday cheer. As an agency, your gift should also convey a message and be something the recipient will enjoy. So start thinking now about how to say thanks to your clients and partners, and use this checklist to select the perfect gift for 2014.

Originally published Jan 13, 2014 12:00:33 AM, updated July 28 2017