The holiday season is a perfect time to make everyone who is important to you feel remembered and appreciated.   Everyone includes partners, colleagues, associates, consultants, lenders, service providers…ie., anyone upon whom your rely to help make your clients happy and your business run smoothly. And, of course, everyone includes your clients.

Thoughtful, individualized gift giving is always appreciated but this year, try giving your VIP clients and colleagues (I’m grouping all of your business people under the umbrella of colleagues) experiences rather than stuff. If you make the experience you’re giving fun, your clients and colleagues will better appreciate you the next time they initiate an agent referral or testimonial or transaction.

The point here is to give your clients/colleagues an experience that feels special and selective and fun. Such invitational experiences let people know that you recognize and appreciate them. And such experiences get people out of their daily routines, allow them to be three-dimensional human beings rather than functions (such as agents, lenders, marketers, builders, parents, clients, etc.) and enable them to just have a good time without having to do anything except have a good time..

For example, give your fitness/athletic minded clients and/or colleagues a one-hour personal one-on-one fitness training session. Better yet, invite a small group of your VIP clients for whom you’ve helped buy/sell a home this year.to a personalized small group fitness training session. Make a donation in your client/colleague’s name to a charity that does work consistent with your client’s interests. Set up a behind-the-scenes hour with a magician, a small-garden landscape specialist, tour of the community opera or vintage car show or farmer’s market with the hottest chef in town. Invite folks for an early morning/late afternoon hike with brunch or wine tasting afterwards. Or, how about inviting your clients/colleagues to an afternoon/evening of team bowling?

Chances are that any or all of these experiences mentioned above will cost you about the same or less than the usual holiday fruit basket or bottle of wine or flowers that you may send to each of your clients/colleagues and, chances are that they’ll remember the experience you invited them to more than that bottle of wine. In a referral-based business such as real estate, isn’t being remembered for doing something unusual and fun together better than getting flowers that wilt?

Also, send all your clients/colleagues (VIPs or not) an old-fashioned, snail mail thank-you note just for being who they are.   Make the note personal, individualized. Choose a note card with a beautiful image. Nothing about business in the note.

From a business point of view at this time of year, stay in touch with your clients/colleagues to remind them (with information) to take action quickly because buyers are chasing interest rates and sellers are reacting to the volatile stock market. Emphasize your price negotiation skills because, as you know, particularly at this time of the year, everything is negotiable.