It’s the time of year, again, when many of us are struck by the spirit of giving…but not necessarily by the spirit of shopping. It’s only when the holidays roll around, and we suddenly realize that we need to find something special (for a client, vendor, co-worker, employee, boss, or business partner), that we start keeping our eyes open.
Of course, cliched executive tchotchkes always abound (like crystal paperweights and monogrammed money clips), as do meaningless office toys (tiny putting green or pewter tic-tac-toe, anyone?). If you want to find generic and impersonal swag, go ahead and do a pointless Google search for “best business gifts list.” On the other hand, if you’d rather give a meaningful present that’s exciting and memorable, read on.
Hey, Man, I Just Wanna Spread The Holiday Cheer!
Gifts Under $20
Whether it’s your favorite dry cleaner, print shop, mailbox depot, or nail salon, there are many people we like to thank at the holidays (probably because we simply forget to thank them the rest of the year). These low-budget ideas not only say “I’m thankful,” but also, “I’m thoughtful.”
According to the snarky supplies maker, this genius product acts like a string around the finger. “This wearable reminder ensures you’ll never forget your task. Just write on the band, wrap it around your wrist, and voilà—your to-dos are literally at hand.”
Who hasn’t sacrificed a cord or two in the name of forgetfulness? Whether you lend them to friends, have them “misappropriated” by teenagers, or leave them in the wall of your party hosts, phone cables and chargers tend to go rogue. Monogramming that shiz is way less expensive than buying new phone accessories every time you’re in the mall, near a cell kiosk.
There is no better gift for the small business owner than the gift of more business. Just one of the tips in this tome can turn a struggling shop into a bustling brand. Manufacturers, retailers, service professionals, and nonprofits can all benefit from the easy-to-implement changes that each chapter offers. Best of all, this book need not be read cover to cover. Each bite-sized idea is independent of the others, making it perfect for ADHD-CEOs. I really bought it, I really read it, and I really reviewed it online because I really loved it.
This local roaster has grown to opening a brick-and-mortar in Long Beach, California (at 4th and Freeman), but their freshly roasted gold is available to everyone 24/7 online. Locals get bicycle delivery; everyone else receives swift shipping of the heavenly smelling bean. Want to put a recurring smile on your target recipient’s mug? Give the gift that keeps on giving; a coffee subscription will assure your caffeine lovin’ boss "a rotating tour of the world’s best seasonal coffees."
You’re an Entrepreneur Worth Giving a Little Sumpin’ To!
Gifts Under $60
Just because your lawyer, doctor, accountant, and broker are doin’ just fine on their own, doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t appreciate some seasonal swag. It can come in handy to be remembered as Mr. Nice Guy…especially in a time of need. Not that you’re mercenary like that, of course. I believe it’s pronounced “merry” come December. Just sayin’.
Tile $20 and up
Things get lost. It’s just the way of things. Luckily, there’s an app for that. Thank you, Tile. According to the website, “When you attach Tile to an item (like your keys), you’re really tethering them both to your phone. So when your stuff gets lost, it has a buddy that knows what to do.” One less important thing to remember = more room in human hard drive for TV theme songs and celebrity scandals.
Who knew cardboard could be so cool? “Pop your smartphone into this handy projector,” says the site, “and the glass lens magnifies your phone’s screen image without the need for an additional power source.” Who needs a schmancy Power Point projector (which, let’s face it” is always crooked no matter how you adjust it), when you can just break out a box in the board room? Now, cue that beautiful footage of Bob’s breakroom breakdance.
Apparently, if you teach a man to fish, you won’t have to show him how to use Excel anymore…or something like that. The loving way of saying, “Format your own damn documents, Dan,” is by giving the gift of tutorials. According to Lynda.com, “all memberships provide access to every single one of our 3,145 courses and 134,000 tutorials.” In no time, you’ll be asking Dan to Photoshop your Tinder profile photo.
To Thank You for Being An Indie Inspiration, I Got You a Nifty Gifty!
Gifts Under $300
One of an entrepreneur’s most important assets is his or her mentor. Whether formal or informal, coach or CEO, followed or stalked, those of us who have built a business have done it by watching someone pretty remarkable. Paying it forward is great and all, but sometimes it feels nice to kinda pay it back.
Cloud9Living “Experiences” $60 and up
Whether it’s racing a Ferrari, going bungee jumping, diving with sharks, or hang gliding, these “experiences” are the kind that last a lifetime. With lots of locations and tons of activities to choose from, there’s really something for just about everyone here. I’m pretty sure she’d prefer a hot air balloon ride over another hot pink padfolio.
The thought of turning my office walls into floor-to-ceiling dry erase boards is, well, ‘gasmic. I’m gonna stick with my two board limit, though. Any more brainstorming than that and I’m in trouble. For someone else, though, it may very well be the perfect idea. I’m jealous of that person. So, um, let’s just move on.
SmartMat $257 (limited time offer)
Most of the business owners I know need yoga–badly–and, yet, they work long hours that rarely allow for squeezing a class in. “Well, why not just practice at home?” everyone says. Right. Like I know what the hell I’m doing on my own…especially after a frustrating 12-hour day. Welcome to SmartMat. The startup’s campaign explains that the mat is, “A portable, responsive yoga mat giving you the flexibility to start or advance your yoga practice.” It hooks up with your phone or tablet and tells you what to do…or not do. (Kinda sounds like my mom, now that I think of it.)
It Seems, Very Important Executive, That I Like You More Than Your Own Mama Does!
Price Is No Object
There are people out there who believe that the most expensive things are the best things. They’re usually right. (Luckily, those people aren’t privy to MY Christmas budget this year.) If you’re of that persuasion, too, then go ahead and drop some greenbacks on one of these gilded gifts. You should also feel free to check out my public Amazon.com wish list. I mean, seriously, I did all your freakin’ shopping for you this year. You’re welcome.
Omaze Experiences and Causes $100 – $25000
Lottery tickets are so passe and, let’s face it, kinda weird. I mean, what better way to ruin a friendship than see a buddy win millions off your buck? No, thanks. Instead, take a gamble on something cool that you could both do together and, even if you don’t win, hey, it’s for a good cause. Confused? Omaze explains it this way: “Whether you’re a sports-nut, fashionista, or tech-geek, there’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you. Look around and find one (or ten) dreams you’d like to live. Each experience is matched with a specific cause. Donate to be automatically entered for the opportunity to win. The process works just like a charity raffle. Once the deadline to enter for the experience passes, we collect all the entries and select the winners through a computer generated random selection process.” You can’t technically just buy one for someone else, but you can donate on your own behalf and then “gift” a raffle entry to a friend. “Join your business bestie to experience something together that’s one-of-a-kind,” says the site.
Who cares that I’d have absolutely no idea what to do with it, I think this 3D printer is totally bomb. Period. Plus, buying someone a piece of cutting-edge tech says, “Hey, look at that! We’re BOTH super cool!” Finally, have you seen this thing? It would be super impressive in anyone’s office on looks alone. You can all worry about the details (i.e. actual printing) later.
Cannon Office Safe $1600
It’s staggering how few entrepreneurs have office safes. Granted, I’ve been the butt of many a joke for my (ahem) six disaster preparedness kits, but I believe you really can’t ever be too careful. How many of us have desk drawers, boxes, credenzas, and cabinets full of important documents, irreplaceable hard drives, expensive electronics, aging awards, one-of-a-kind portfolio materials, crystal paperweights, and commemorative pen sets? Yeeeah, I thought so. Lock that stuff up, for heaven’s sake! Get a REAL safe (preferably an adorable pink one) and start treating your physical and intellectual property as valuables…because they are.
Sarah Daniels is a writer and editor, who lives in Los Angeles with two incredibly misbehaved Australian Shepherds. She is almost certainly the only person on earth with a tattoo of the Oxford comma. Her requisite smarty pants credentials can be found on LinkedIn.