How to thank your best clients this year (without going broke)

Can you believe it’s already December?

If you’re like me, you’re scrambling to put together something for your best clients in time for the holidays.

But what to do? And how can you afford it – December generally being a slower month for designers* (and generally more expensive in our personal lives)?

You’re in luck…I’ve done the research for you. (If only all research included scouring Pinterest!) Here are a number of fun, crafty, tasty, and most importantly inexpensive holiday gift ideas.

*Read here for tips on how to ensure year-round income.

Holiday Cards

At the very least, send holiday cards to all of the clients you like doing business with. (I’ve already got mine written out.)


  • Choose neutrally-themed cards unless it’s a part of your business identity.
  • Write something unique for every client. Tell them why you like working with them.
  • Mention that their referrals are always welcome. You may want to include business cards for them to hand out, possibly with a discount per referral.
  • Segue into a continued relationship. Example: “I look forward to a great 2014 with you!”

Baked Goods

Everyone loves yummy treats, and one or two batches will make enough for all of your clients.

Things that mail well (in my experience):

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  • “Tough” cookies (thicker, round or something without delicate design)
  • Glass candy
  • Caramels, chocolates, or fudge
  • Peanut brittle
  • Flavored Popcorn
  • Rice Krispie treats

Note: Consider the weather on your package’s journey and bake accordingly. Popcorn also makes a good (and edible!) packing peanut.

X in a Jar

Don’t want to do the baking yourself? Collect the ingredients in a mason jar for a DIY present. Cookies / baked goods as well as hot chocolate (don’t forget the little marshmallows!) or apple cider work well.

Another great idea, if even this sounds daunting, is to purchase licorice, candy canes, coffee, etc. and an inexpensive container to store them in (think dollar store), but decorate the jar with a cute tag, bow, or bauble.


Potpourri can be made of cost-effective ingredients and is very simple to do; or you can buy a big bag (also inexpensive) and get creative with smaller packages. It’s also really lightweight, so you’ll save on freight costs.

Note: Deciding on a fragrance you think most of your clients will like might be challenging. You’re probably best playing it safe rather than making something exotic and polarizing (either love it or hate it).

Milestone or Achievement Certificates

Do you have a “most organized” client that makes every project super-smooth to work on? A “best planner” who never calls with last-minute, need-it-yesterday projects? A client who always pays on time?

Maybe one of your clients has been with you 2 years, or 5, or 10.

Why not make certificates for your most deserving clients? Just don’t buy a cheap-looking frame (it can still be inexpensive), and center the darn thing well. Nothing cheapens this gift like a crooked certificate in falling-apart frame.

Coupons or Discounts

Promote future projects together by sending – in your holiday card, of course – a coupon or discount on future work. Now’s an excellent time to be generous without the expectation of cheaper services in the future.

Not sure how to offer a discount without cheapening your business? Read here.


Use your design talent to make something creative for your clients. A simple pencil/pen drawing, illustration, calligraphy, watercolor, painting…whatever it is you’re talented at.


  • Tailor your painting to your client. Pick a subject you know they’re interested in.
  • Create something you enjoy doing – then it doubles as a creative outlet as well as a holiday gift.
  • (This may seem obvious, but) Choose a non-offensive subject your client could hang in their office.

Inspirational Posters

No need to purchase these…make some yourself and help your clients motivate their employees and themselves. Again, it’s not necessary (but not taboo) for these all to be the same.

Tip: Wrap your holiday presents (if you do that sort of thing) early this year and use the empty tubes for shipping. If you make long, wide posters, you can use 1 tube for 2 posters.

Final Tips

No matter what your plan is this holiday season, follow these overall tips to make your best clients truly feel appreciated.

  • It’s all in the presentation. Be creative! (After all, we are designers.)
  • Think about each client individually. (There’s no law saying you have to do the same thing for every client.)
  • Make it heartfelt. Better just to send a handwritten note than to send a cheap chotchkie. (That’s what trade shows and conferences are for.)

What do you do for your clients over the holiday season? Tell us about your most creative or most well-received holiday gift!

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About April Greer

April is the Director of Projects at Reliable PSD, a design-to-code company for designers, by designers. She’s the glue keeping everything together, organized, and right on time, and giving everyone a fantastic experience while she does it.



  1. Yes yes!

    To each of my clients, I give them discount vouchers. The smiles on their faces are priceless.

    Thanks April

  2. One thing I like to do is send my premium clients a bunch of Luxe cards from Moo.

  3. My clients get the same as Rahat said- Luxe cards from moo, specifically the mini ones. It’s a special referral card for a holiday discount, the client get the discount as do the people he gives out the cards to.


  1. Blog Love says:

    […] Something to think about for next year – how to thank your clients without going broke >>> […]


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