During the busy holiday season, taking the time to send clients a thoughtful gift can make a big impression.

Creating “touch points” with clients is important, says Joanne Ferguson, president of Advisor Pathways Inc. in Toronto. Touch points, such as gift-giving in December, help ensure that your clients are keeping your advisory team in their thoughts throughout the year.

However, Ferguson says, gifts should not be considered part of your marketing strategy. That is one reason why items such as custom calendars and fridge magnets are typically not well regarded.

Here are four tips for giving memorable gifts this holiday season:

1. Keep it simple
One major faux pas is spending too much money on a client gift, Ferguson says. Extravagant gifts can sometimes send the wrong message. “You don’t want clients to think they pay you too much,” she says.

If you’re unsure what gifts are appropriate, consult your compliance department.

2. Personalize your gifts
To show your gift is a genuine gesture of goodwill, choose an item that you’re certain your client will appreciate.

For example, if your client is planning to spend the holidays in Hawaii, give him or her a Hawaii guidebook, bookmarked with some of your favourite scenic spots, Ferguson says.

If you’re opting to send greeting cards, she adds, a personalized, handwritten note goes a long way in establishing a personal connection.

3. Provide a memorable experience
Often, clients will appreciate positive memories more than material gifts. You can make an impact with your clients and their families by hosting a holiday-themed client-appreciation event.

For example, invite clients to bring their children and grandchildren to an ice-skating party at a local rink. Make it an annual event, Ferguson says, and your clients will look forward to it each year. They will also connect with other families that attend regularly.

For your top clients, you might invite a small group to celebrate the holidays over dinner at a good restaurant.

4. Make a donation
A thoughtful gesture in lieu of gifts is to make a charitable donation on behalf of your advisory team, Ferguson says.

If you want to involve clients in the process, Ferguson adds, you can ask clients to recommend their favourite charities. Otherwise, you can make note of your charitable donation in your yearend newsletter or holiday cards.

See also: A small gift with lasting impact

See also: It’s the impact that counts