Creative Ways to Show Gratitude in Your Business

Creative Ways to Show Gratitude in Your Business - Perfect for Small Business Owners | Greatest Story Creative

What are the best ways to show your gratitude?

As we approach Thanksgiving (and I prepare to have my family and my in-laws descend upon our place!), I am thinking a lot about gratitude and giving thanks.

I believe it's critical to business and professional success to be a gracious and appreciative in the work you do. So that's why today, I'm sharing some of my favorite tips for this - along with awesome ideas and best practices from small business owners I admire.

Whether you have a business, are thinking of starting one, or are just curious for some creative ways to say "thank you" - I think you'll enjoy this one. I've split these ideas into a few of my favorites, tips that revolve around gift-giving for "client gifts" and otherwise, and ways that don't involve traditional gift-giving (because gift-giving isn't the only way to show appreciation!)

A few favorites from me and Greatest Story Creative:

- Consider mailing business holiday cards to clients, collaborators, and friends/family (for Christmas, New Year’s, or even Valentine’s!)
Since 2014, we’ve had a business Christmas card that we’ve actually snail mailed to all of our clients, key collaborators, and close family and friends that have supported us. Your cards don’t need to be Christmas themed – last year, we did bookmarks celebrating the new year ahead! I’ve also heard of businesses sending cards around Thanksgiving (maybe for your business, you do a mailing in February around Valentine’s!) No matter the occasion, personalized, snail mail always makes a big impression and can keep you top of mind. In short, it goes a long way.
- No time or budget for snail mail? Send an eCard
Snail mail is really fun, but if you don’t have the budget yet or the time to make it happen, you can easily create an ecard to wish your business community Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, etc. Don’t forget birthdays or anniversaries either – another great occasion to show that you care. You can even schedule them all at once, in advance. Can't beat that.
Find great ecards (for free!) at
- Make sure you show your clients that you appreciate them and have a process in place to give that appreciation
Currently, we send a welcome packet or handwritten note to our clients, along with a small branded client gift (like a journal) to show our excitement at working with them soon. For full-service packages, we also include a surprise gift (using our client’s new brand!) at the end of our project or for a fun reveal on our photoshoot days. There’s nothing like seeing your brand come to life in person and it’s one unexpected way we like to say thanks!

Best Practices for Gifting Clients and Others:

You may have heard of "client gifts" or company gifts. You can give these when clients book you, when you complete a project, at the holidays, and even just because - when appropriate. Here are some great things to keep in mind from some inspiring small business owners!

- Give gifts that make life easier, like a set of personalized tags to use for giftings others
“I love to gift my friends with things that will make their life easier during the craziness of the holidays.  My favorite thing is to give them personalized tags to use on their gifts - it's one less thing they have to think about purchasing and it saves them from having to write them out.  I also love to gift homemade fudge - it might come in handy when unexpected guests show up!”
Heather Kirks, Owner and Designer | Hedoe Paper |

- Tailor your gifts and gratitude to each person’s love language
(The idea of love languages is that we each give and receive love differently. Learn more here.) “If I know their love language I try to say thanks in that way. So for some it is words of affirmation, others it will be a gift, and others it may be giving them more time.”
Jim Reklis, Leadership Coach | Reklis Coaching and Consulting |

- Give gifts to clients related to what they are working on (or involved with)
“I love giving my clients a gift that supports what they are working on in their business, like a book on confident self-promotion.”
Adele Michal, Sales Coach |

- Make sure your client gifts are resourceful, meaningful, and thoughtful (hint: it’s not just about sending “branded swag”)
“We show our appreciation to our clients for investing in us and supporting our small business by gifting a token of our appreciation. We include resources they will find helpful during the planning process (Southern Weddings magazine, wedding planner, etc.), as well as gifts that they can use far beyond the wedding (such as an art print for their new home).
We also include a handwritten note with each gift. For us, it’s not about branded swag that serves no purpose to the client, but rather meaningful gifts that the clients can put to real use.”
Allyson Ward and Ashlee Little, Wedding Planners in NC Triangle/Triad | Tailored Occasions |
- Give client gifts that also support local businesses, making the gratitude circle much wider!
“One of our favorite ways to show gratitude in our business is to pass on the support of small business.  Whenever Early Bird Photo sends products to our clients, we include a handwritten thank you note, purchased from one of the great Durham venues that support local artists such as The Makery or The Patchwork Market. In thanking customers for supporting their local photographer, we're also passing that support onto other artists in our community. We hope you all have a restful, grateful Thanksgiving!”
Beth Mann, Photographer in Durham, NC | Early Bird Photo |

Creative Ways to Show Gratitude Outside of Traditional "Gifting":

There are so many ways to show gratitude to those that help you or work with you beyond a client gift. Here are some great outside-the-box ways to give and show love to those that make a difference to your business or career!

- Encourage and support your business friends online
“When it comes to my friends who have businesses, I like to share their businesses with other friends who I think may benefit from their services, liking their social media posts, and commenting to encourage them! Being online can sometimes be isolating, so I always love to connect in this way.”
Sarah Potts, Virtual Assistant | Joyfully Organized |

- Year-round, make it a point to message or text people (clients, co-workers, friends or family) and give them a heartfelt compliment
“… I usually say things like “Thanks for your encouraging posts!” Or “Love what you’re doing! Keep it up!””
Dori Staehle, Founder and CEO | Rock the Next Stage |

- Sponsor or Host an Event that’s relevant to your business audience or community
“Since 2014 every year at the North Carolina Writers' Network (NCWN)'s Fall Conference I sponsor the opening night reception. By doing so, I ensure that all of my fellow writers, faculty, and guests have yummy hors d'oeuvres to accompany their libations before the conference begins with our keynote speaker. Being a NCWN sponsor is my way of giving back to an organization that have given me so much over the years. Since I joined in 2003 and became a regional representative in 2009 and a board member in 2013, the Network has helped professionalize me as a writer, has given me so many opportunities to speak and network, and has connected me to lifelong friends. 
In past years, I have also hosted client-appreciation parties to show my appreciation to my clients and friends who have trusted me with their writing, editing and book publishing advice. It's so much fun to give back!”
Alice Osborn, Writer and Editor | Write From the Inside Out! |
- Instead of a “client gift,” make a donation to a related-cause in your client or collaborator’s name
“As female entrepreneurs here at Doobry, we think it’s incredibly important to foster the next generation of women leaders — and we actively seek out other women-owned-and-operated businesses as clients and collaborators.  For Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we decided to sponsor a United Nations Girl Up leader in all of their names, as a way to say thank you for all of their partnership and trust over the past year! We tagged our donation on social media as well, so the celebration of these great women could be shared.”
Marielle Henault, Founding Partner | Doobry |

Thank you!

I really enjoyed writing this week's story. Initially, I thought I'd tackle the subject myself, but then the people in the Greatest Story community really inspired me.

I'm grateful to have gotten so many wonderful and unique responses from just a few of the small business owners that make up the readership for these articles. It's a nice thing to be able to feature them, as well as their incredible businesses - another creative twist on showing gratitude by the way! I hope you'll check each of them out and learn more about their stories. And don't forget: this Saturday, 11/26 is also Small Business Saturday!

Thank you for reading this too and for your support. You may not realize it, but every time you share this on your social media, or write a note back to me, it makes a tremendous difference and gives so much encouragement. I am truly grateful for that kind of support - so thank you. Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving this week!

Before I go, I'll ask - what's one thing you're going to do to show gratitude this season? And to who? I'd love to know! Leave a comment and let me hear it - cause you're going to make it happen.