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Ideas for Last Minute Business Holiday Gifts

Updated on September 11, 2016
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is a promotional products expert and author of SWAG: How to Choose and Use Promotional Products for Marketing Your Business.


Ack! Purchasing holiday business gifts for customers didn't make it on the To Do list in time. Or maybe sales were in a slump earlier in the year and gifts weren't even thought to be a possibility. But then a change of heart or financial situation makes them a priority.

But it's only a few days—or hours!—before a customer holiday event or meeting and there's no way to get branded promotional giveaways and business gifts without magic or major money outlays. What to do to preserve the business' brand and budget?

Never fear! Here are ideas for putting together last minute business holiday gifts that can impress with less time and cost. But here's the main goal: Make the gift choices look like they were intentional, not accidental!


Business Gift Shopping in "Christmas Past, Present and Future"

Unlike in the days of "Christmas Past," the options for securing business holiday gifts within a short time frame are greatly expanded in "Christmas Present." This is due to:

  • More Quick Service Promotional Product Choices. More promotional products suppliers are offering quick turnaround on branded promotional items than ever, some as quick as 24 hours or less, usually with some limitations. Not only is this trend in response to market demand, but is facilitated by technological advances at every point in the production and ordering process. So even in a pinch, it's worth connecting with a promotional products distributor to see if any options exist.
  • Round the Clock Shopping. For at least the past decade or more, brick-and-mortar retailers seem to be trying to outdo one another in terms of the number of hours they are open for shopping, some even being open Thanksgiving and up to 24 hours a day right before the holidays. And online retailers never close! So if unbranded retail gifts are being considered, business buyers can shop 'til they drop!

But here's a word of caution: Last-minute choices may incur rush charges and expedited shipping fees, both of which can be very expensive.

We'll likely see more of this always-on, on-demand shopping trend in "Christmas Future." But even these expanding options may not be fast enough for some last-minute situations.


The Gift Solution Down the Street

Two types of stores that always have extended hours, not just during holidays, are grocery and drug stores. Both of them can be sources for last minute business holiday gifts, too. Plus, most of these have many convenient locations, especially in larger metropolitan areas. Other sources down the street that can provide gifting goodies include coffee shops (i.e. Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, etc.).

Here are some ideas for what to buy at these alternative gift sources at the last minute:

  • Cookies or candies that are typically packaged in boxes that can be easily dressed up with either stick-on or tied on gift bows. No wrapping required.
  • Small gift bags that can be filled with tissue paper, wrapped candies and individual serving snacks. These are welcome goodies that recipients can munch on even after the holidays are over. Salespeople who know clients very well can customize selections for each based on their favorite foods.
  • Floral arrangements are available at many grocery stores. Some of these stores have entire floral departments offering surprisingly beautiful selections.
  • Pre-packaged specialty coffees and teas, topped with gift bows or placed in gift bags. Some coffee shops also package these purchases in bags that can do double duty as gift bags.

Pro Tip #1: A promotional item to have on hand for year-round branded gifting is custom printed wrapping ribbon with the company's name and/or logo. Can help turn any gift item purchased in retail into a branded promotion!

Pro Tip #2: Exercise caution when selecting food gifts due to allergies and other sensitivities. Click here for pros and cons of food gifts.


Even easier and faster than running down the street, is running to the Internet for purchasing gifts. And the gift notice is one email customers will want to open!

Lots of choices for business holiday e-gifts include:

  • Ebooks.
  • Music downloads.
  • Audio books.
  • Gift cards for app downloads.
  • Gift certificates for merchandise, restaurants and more.

Missed the Holidays? No Problem!

If you missed giving for the traditional holidays altogether, no worries! In fact, it might even work out better. Thanksgiving and New Year's both represent excellent gifting opportunities:

And there may even be an argument that missing the holidays was intentional.

Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2013 Heidi Thorne


Submit a Comment

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

    Thanks, Nell Rose! I'm also a "you had me at chocolate" kind of gal. Yesterday got a box of Frango mints from a business friend. They're a Chicago traditional favorite. Hope your holidays are filled with sweetness!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

    Great ideas heidi, I saw the word chocolate and got stuck! lol! have a great Christmas and new Year!

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi mylindaelliott! Chocolates, cookies and fruit baskets, oh my! I'd love it, too. :) At one job, we used to have a printer rep who would also bring bakery goodies. Always works for me. Hope you holidays are filled with wonderful treats!

  • mylindaelliott profile image

    mylindaelliott 4 years ago from Louisiana

    Great tips and advice. We get chocolates, cookies, and fruit baskets at my job. We love it.

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

    Oh, FlourishAnyway, chocolate covered strawberries (or anything!) makes my holiday, too. Sometimes the simplest of items, regardless of when or where they were purchased, can have the greatest impact. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely Thanksgiving!

  • heidithorne profile image

    Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

    Don't we all, billybuc! :) All the best to you and Bev (and your assorted animal family members) this Thanksgiving! BTW, I'm letting the pros at one of our local restaurants do the cooking. (I have no delusions about my cooking prowess.) Looking forward to that later today!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

    The best business gift I ever received was an order of chocolate covered strawberries. It was out of this world and years later I recall it as well as who sent it. Great suggestions here, Heidi. Have a great Thanksgiving Day with those you love.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Great suggestions, Heidi! Now all I need is some money. LOL Happy Thanksgiving my friend; enjoy your day and family.