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Gifting clients and employees around the holidays isn’t just a nice way to spread some cheer – it’s a smart business tactic, according to a 2015 study by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). About three-quarters of U.S. companies give holiday gifts to employees and clients, spending an average of $64 per employee and $38 per client, the study reports.

Why the generosity? Nearly 70% of the respondents said that business gifts are an important tool in developing relationships with clients and prospects. With that in mind, here are five corporate gift-giving tips to help you prep for the upcoming holiday season.

Start Early.
According to the study, 68% of businesspeople give gifts branded with the company’s logo on them. But personalization takes time. Experts recommend clients start talking to their promotional products distributors about holiday gifts in August and September, and “place all of their orders by early fall,” says promotional expert Marcia Gasca. “That way, there’s plenty of time to be creative with personalization and packaging.”

Be On-Trend.
Useful items that take up real estate on a recipient’s desk or wall (think logoed pen sets and calendars) are always popular, but electronics remain the hot ticket on everyone’s list, says Gasca. Think branded power banks, tablet covers and logoed microfiber screen cleaners. One hot item for this year: a portable charger leash, which has an alarm in it that sounds when you remove your device from it (great for globetrotters who are constantly leaving their travel chargers behind in hotel rooms). Other fun ideas include smart watches, apparel that monitors your heart rate and fitness-tracking wristbands.

Think Beyond the Gift Card. 
While gift cards remain one of the most popular gifts for employees, get creative and present the card with something the recipient will hold onto much longer, suggests Gasca. For instance, put the card inside of a branded tumbler mug or water bottle, or zip it into the pocket of an embroidered fleece jacket. Another idea: Place the card inside a branded picture frame that will sit on the recipient’s desk after the card is used.
gift giving with promotional products
Wrap It Up.
Forget plain holiday wrap for your gifts. Use packaging as another branding opportunity. As an example, you might roll up an imprinted T-shirt and slip on a logoed band that recipients can later use as a trendy accessory. Create gift tags as well. For instance, instead of a traditional paper gift tag, handwrite your recipients’ names on a paper luggage tag insert; they can enjoy the branded luggage tag long after the gift is opened. Also, ask your promotional products distributor about customized gift wrap that will further showcase your company’s branding.

Consider Cards.
Don’t have the budget to send a gift to every client or prospect? Customized gift cards with personalized, handwritten notes are a nice touch. A growing trend is to send a “thanks for your business” in late November (just before Thanksgiving) so that your card can be the first holiday card to arrive in a recipient’s mailbox. Sending cards early is “a great and affordable way to stand out from the pack,” Gasca says.

To learn more or start shopping for a promo item to help your company, visit our dedicated website for promotional products: