Gift Baskets are Over: 12 Alternatives for Today’s Clients

Last Updated:  March 21, 2018

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Think there’s no downside to sending your best clients gift baskets of ripe pears and candied popcorn? Think again. It’s not 1990 anymore and chances are everyone on your list already has plenty to eat and drink around the holidays. Besides, there’s nothing like a gift basket full of ripe fruit and sweet treats to say, “We appreciate your business just about as much as anyone else would.”

If you really do value your clients’ business, you’ll send a client gift that’s thoughtful, unique, and truly surprising. Most people won’t go the extra mile, so it’s actually pretty easy to stand out when you think outside the gift basket. Here are our twelve favorite client gift ideas to get you started.

The List: Gift Basket Alternatives They’ll Love

1. Best in Class Subscription Service ($9+/mo)

Gift Baskets are Overrated - Scribbler Box

Like to write? There’s a subscription for that!

There’s a subscription service for just about everything these days. If you know your clients’ interests reasonably well, you can match them to a best in class subscription service. You set everything up once per client, and then sit back as they receive a carefully curated box every month. You’ll stay top of mind all year long!

Heck, you might even want to set the service up to run indefinitely. After all, you’re not expecting to lose your clients’ business in 6 or 12 months. Are you?

Plucked from among many, here are our favorite subscription services in various categories:

2. Foil Printed Map Art ($30+)

Gift Baskets are Overrated - Foil Print Map Art

Who wouldn’t hang something this sharp in their office?

A custom high end map is a unique corporate or thank you gift idea for anyone with a sales territory, people who work in government, or just about any urban dweller who loves their hometown. Minted offers 150+ stock maps printed with gold foil or you can order a custom map of just about anywhere on Earth. The best part is they’ll mount and frame it for you and ship it directly to your lucky recipient.

3. Living Wall of Succulents ($90+)

Gift Baskets Are Overrated - Succulent Planter

This exquisite vertical planter arrives ready to hang.

Save the flowers for Valentine’s Day and send this living wall of colorful succulents instead. The plants hold up remarkably well through the mail (go for the extra heat pack in winter) and they’re always a complete surprise. The succulents are hardy and don’t require much attention, yet still give off a cheery disposition year round.

4. Personalized Leather Notebook ($33)

Creative Corporate Gifts - Leather Journal

Choose from three colors of leather, each with 75 lined pages.

Even the most smartphone-addicted among us still appreciate the rustic feel of pen on paper. But very few of us will splurge and buy high end notebooks for ourselves. So do your client a favor and gift them a stack of fine leather-bound personalized journals. Maybe a set of three to last a while? One in each color?

5. Custom Furniture Piece ($199+)

Gift Baskets are Overrated - Coffee Table

Just one of many possible custom furniture gifts.

There’s absolutely no reason you can’t send a well known client or business partner an over-the-top custom gift like a handmade glow-in-the-dark coffee table, awesome beanbag chair, or even a high end hammock. If their business is worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, then why not invest a small percentage of that revenue in something that shows up at their house in a big box and just might last a lifetime?

6. Handwritten Note (Free)

Gift Baskets are Overrated - Lemony Fresh Stationery

You remember how to do this. Grab a pen and let the words flow.

It’s not necessarily the note or the stationery that counts, but rather the time you invest in writing a personal note of appreciation. Hardly anyone does this anymore so the impact is huge when you actually make it happen. The most important detail is that you really have to write the note yourself. Then look up the address and write it on the envelope by hand too.

Your client will know and appreciate that you did it all yourself. And there’s a decent chance you’ll be the only one who does this for them all year.

If you need some classy cool stationery to get you started, we like these sets from Minted:

And get yourself a solid pen too:

7. Vegas Weekend + Cirque du Soleil ($900+)

Gift Baskets are Overrated - Cirque du Soleil

Never underestimate the power of experiences to garner client loyalty.

This one can be a bit tricky to pull together, but the result is an incredibly memorable experience for both your client and their spouse. You’ll be emailing back and forth planning your client’s trip, which is an awesome way to cement a valuable relationship. Here’s how to do it right:

Sound like a huge hassle? It totally is. And that’s what’s extra special about this gift. You’re not just giving your best client a trip to Vegas to see a show. You’re giving them a totally white-glove experience. All they have to do is make a few key decisions and get themselves to the airport. And they’ll appreciate that aspect of the gift just as much as whatever money you spend.

8. Custom Fortune Cookies ($30)

Better Than Gift Baskets - Custom Fortune Cookies

You can add up to 5 different messages at no extra cost per order.

If you simply cannot resist the urge to send treats, a batch of 50 custom fortune cookies is way more fun than a gift basket. Fill them with notes of appreciation and hopes for doing business together in the future. You’re only limited by your own imagination (and a maximum of 32 characters per line)!

9. Marble Business Card Holder ($35)

Gift Baskets are Overrated - Biz Card Holder

This beauty holds 20-25 cards and is finished with soft felt underneath.

A sleek and stylish business card holder is a great client gift idea when you don’t know someone particularly well. Just about everyone still keeps business cards, and just about everyone fumbles to find them from time to time. Not anymore!

10. Wooden Desk Puzzle ($35)

Gift Baskets are Overrated - Wood Desk Puzzle

This smart puzzle set is as challenging as it is irresistible.

Some people swear they’re more creative when their hands are busy. Put that extra energy to good use with this 40-in-1 wooden puzzle. The Egg Tangram Set is handmade in Thailand with precision cut edges. Forty brain teaser cards are included, with each possible bird design shown in silhouette on the front and in detail on the reverse. Maybe include a note that says something like, “You’re a good egg. Looking forward to soaring together next year.”

11. Nomatic Travel Bag ($229+)

Gift Baskets are Overrated - Nomatic Travel Bag

This perfectly sized carry on bag is durable, waterproof, and kitted out with all sorts of cool features.

If your client spends a lot of time on the road or just likes to travel in general, the Nomatic Travel Bag is sure to be an upgrade from their current carry-on of choice. This innovative duffel/backpack began life as a successful Kickstarter with pre-sales of $1.7 million. It’s definitely a gift that grows on you. Once you get used to all the different compartments (shoes here, socks and underwear over there, cords and electronics in this pocket, etc.) you’ll never go back to a traditional duffel bag.

12. One of Your Favorite Books

Better Than Gift Baskets - Books

You don’t have to send a business book!

The right book given at the right time can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Scour your brain and make a short list of ideas and related books that have been important in your life. Then match books on your list to existing or potential clients. Order a stack from Amazon and have them sent to yourself. Add short inscriptions inside the front covers to personalize them and then send ’em along with handwritten notes.


Still want to send old school gift baskets this year? We don’t recommend it, but if you’re going to do it anyways, send this one. But do it in April not December, okay?