Perfecting a seamless client process is the bread and butter of your work. It’s what keeps your studio running like a well-oiled machine as you strive to exceed expectations at every turn. In a service-based industry like interior design, it’s so essential to keep client relationships intact, even once a project has been completed. This is especially true for studios offering full-service design.
We know you have a million to-dos at the end of the year, so leave all the etiquette and sourcing to us. Below, we're sharing the dos and don'ts of client holiday gifts according to designers. Plus easy, thoughtful, and ready-to-shop gift ideas to leave a lasting impression.
Photography by Madeline Harper
As the end of the year approaches, taking the time to organize client holiday gifts can go a really long way. "Gift-giving to our clients during the holiday season is simply one of many ways to show our appreciation to them and how grateful we are to be working with them," Judi Lee-Carr of Jubilee Interiors in Westlake Village, California said.
Holiday gifts are both a thoughtful gesture to show your appreciation AND a strategic business move to stay connected and top-of-mind. We also see holiday gifts as an opportunity to extend your brand experience to those you’ve worked with throughout the year. This can include clients, trade partners, or anyone who has contributed to the success of your business.
But before you take off shopping, we've got a few ground rules to keep in mind:
Do: Shop Local
Shopping your local artisans and makers is always in style. When you purchase client holiday gifts from a small, local maker, you’re not only lifting up other businesses in your community, but you’re also showing clients that you’ve chosen to gift intentionally. What may seem like a small decision speaks volumes about your core values as a brand. And it's often much more meaningful than a gift from a big box retailer.
Julia Miller of Yond Interiors, based in Minneapolis, MN, agrees. “We love gift giving and find it to be the perfect opportunity to show our clients appreciation," she said. "This year, we are giving our clients custom Minneapolis-made cutting boards, two stainless steel knives from Spain, and an apron.”
Don't: Go Overboard
Yes, client gifts are an incredible way to heighten the client experience, but it doesn’t have to be extravagant. When shopping, make sure to consider a gift that’s both beautiful and useful. The last thing you want is to add unwanted clutter to your clients’ homes.
Also, if gifts aren't in the budget this year, that doesn't mean still can't send something meaningful. "When we first started and budgets were tighter, we would do just a holiday card," Erin Coren of Curated Nest Interiors in Cos Cob, Connecticut said. "Now, we give gifts to all existing clients and some past clients. All past and current clients get cards too."
Holiday gifts are both a thoughtful gesture to show your appreciation AND a strategic business move to stay connected and top-of-mind.
Do: Pick a Theme
Highly-curated gift boxes are a foolproof gift idea for interior design clients. When selecting the gifts in your box, Julia Miller suggests picking a theme, like items for the kitchen, items for the travel lover, or items for the hostess. “I think it's also fine to customize gifts for each client,” she said. “So if you have a client who loves to create cocktails, a specialty gift could be very appropriate.”
When choosing a custom gift, Judi Lee-Carr refers back to her client's initial design questionnaire to guide her studio's gift-giving. "Without going overboard, we try to personalize a holiday gift based on their answers. For example, I have a drop-down question that asks about home scents like floral, musky, ocean breeze, vanilla, etc. Last year, I gifted candles based on their answers."
Don't: Forget a Personal Note
Client retention is incredibly important for most interior design studios. It’s common for homeowners to return for second and third-round projects as they tackle different areas of their home. With that opportunity for client retention (and referral!) in mind, we cannot over emphasize the importance of including a handwritten thank you note on your branded stationery.
"If you’re not sending a gift there should be a nice card sent from you and your team," said Lindsey Brooke of Lindsey Brooke Design in Thousand Oaks, California. "You want clients to know you're thinking of them during the holiday season and how much you value them!"
We all find ourselves busy during the holiday season, but including a handwritten personal note along with your gift shows clients how much you value them and the role they played in your success this year.
Shop Client Gift Ideas:
With those dos and don'ts in mind, it's time to get shopping. As previously mentioned, we highly recommend checking out your local businesses and artisans while also acknowledging there's a time and place for online sourcing. At the end of the day, it's really the thought that counts, and you can't go wrong with something gifted from the heart.