Find the appropriate gift
Choosing the right business gift can sometimes seem like a juggling act: you don't want to come off as too bland or impersonal, but you also don't want to get too personal, either. You'll want to stay away from anything too cheap, but on the other hand, also avoid anything extravagant enough to make your client question your motives. Before you give up in frustration and start reaching for those company pens, consider these possibilities:
Food and drink. Always a favorite, especially when you want to say thanks for a job well done. Food baskets work well for individuals and groups (a great source for satisfying office munchies). Just be aware of dietary restrictions. Also, don't forget food or beverage clubs--monthly goodies that can serve as a long-term reminder of your business relationship.
Flowers and cards. These work well for holiday occasions, and when you're inaugurating a business partnership.
Fine Goods. Executive items like leather goods (notebooks, briefcases), crystal, timepieces, and so on are both elegant and not too personal. Just be aware of how common they can be gift-wise, and watch out for the dent they put in your wallet.
Electronics. Little gadgets make great gifts for the home or office. However, if they fail to work properly, they can be a poor reflection on you. This is definitely an option that calls for quality.
Charity. A contribution to the charity of the client's choice is always a classy way of giving, particularly for those people who "have it all."
Entertainment and gift certificates. If you can match them with the recipient's interests (and if you have money to spend), tickets to sporting or entertainment events are a terrific idea. If, on the other hand, you're having trouble finding out what the person (or people) might like, the gift certificate is a great standby.
Non-traditional gifts. A gift certificate for a massage, a manicure, or a pedicure (or if you're feeling generous--a whole spa package) will be a welcome surprise for anyone feeling those workday pressures.
What you choose will depend on what you know about the recipient's tastes, what you feel is a good reflection of the client's importance to you, and, of course, how much time you have to put into the purchase. Be aware that flower shops aren't the only places you can call to have a gift delivered. There are a host of businesses, specializing in gift packages of all kinds, that will take care of wrapping, delivery, and even the card. Look under "gifts" in the yellow pages, or try typing "business gifts" into your search engine.