by Melanie Spring

Over the holidays, Sisarina was blessed with cupcakes, cookies, wine, chocolates, and other baked goods. Between us we have one who is gluten-intolerant, one who is allergic to sugar, and one who isn't in the office all the time. That leaves me, the leader, to eat all the delicious sugary decadence. By the end of all of it, I started the year with a sugar & alcohol detox.

Why do we feel like we have to reward or thank people with cookies & wine?

As a growing company, we've had to keep our costs down and haven't given much more than a thank you card or a little gift basket of movie tickets or a book to our clients. We're super thankful of our clients and this year we decided to thank some of our recent branding clients with gifts. Their reaction was incredible and showed us that we must be leaders in this kind of thank you gift.

Our job is to brand companies (our tagline is Get Branded.) Most of our clients get new logos, new websites, and new stationery. We went to and ordered custom travel mugs with their new logos on them. One of our clients had a baby while they were getting branded so we gave them a custom baby bib with their logo on it. With reactions from 'this was better than any Christmas gift I got this year' to 'Sisarina is pretty much rocking my world right now.', we realized that we did something really great because it was thoughtful and custom. It wasn't a basket of goodies picked from a catalogue and sent via a courier.

After posting on Twitter about this, I got a lot of great responses about how people wish vendors would stop sending sweets & alcohol and start sending something healthier. Here's what they said:

From the client side, we appreciate the thank-you gifts from vendors, but it would be nice to receive healthier items around the holidays. At our office we received at least a dozen or more cupcakes everyday for a week with multiple boxes coming some days. - Jessica Pointer

For Christmas this year, my brother gifted my parents with a generously sized box of chocolate truffles.  They squealed with delight and tried to pass me some.  They should know better; I don't have much of a sweet tooth.  It would never have occurred to me to gift my parents (who claim to be on a diet - clearly not) with candy, fancy or not.  Why?  Because no one needs that much chocolate.  The funniest part of watching my parents dive head first into a deep box of candy was knowing that my mother sent my brother and his in-laws several baskets of ... GRAPEFRUIT.  We are Floridians, and fresh citrus has always been our go-to gift for all occasions. Why? Because people DO need that much Vitamin C in their lives!  My mother's gift was personal, supported our local farmers (we no longer have our own trees), and didn't add unnecessary calories to an already plump holiday.  We later learned that my brother and sister-in-law ate grapefruit for breakfast, used their new juicer to squeeze out a bottle's worth of goodness, used more juice to make a dressing for their dinner salads, added it to a fruit salsa, and even made cocktails with it.  In addition to being the healthier option, I'd say it's also a bigger bang for your buck, no? - Thirsty Ivy

"I think it's so thoughtful when clients or vendors bring or send us food. I know it means they appreciate us. As someone who can't eat suger, though, I often feel "ungrateful" when I can't do anything but look at the gift we were just given. Looking would be fine if it was designed to just be looked at, but when I know I'm meant to be eating it, I actually feel guilty. I also know that it's hard to send something that a whole office can share that isn't food. I don't ever expect anyone to go out of their way to accommodate my dietary limitations, but when they do, when they are creative and think outside the 'food box', I feel truly appreciated." - Teresa Thomas

At The Spa Room, we're big fans of sending handwritten notes when a thank you is due. We believe that simplicity is important, and that most of our clients can be overwhelmed by material things and don't like having too many sweets around. (At least, that's how we feel, so we imagine our clients must be in the same boat.) Finding a pretty card and sitting down to hand write a note makes the act of thanks feel genuine, and we hope that our clients smile when they check their mail and find something besides bills and grocery store circulars. Its a nice exercise for us, as well--having to stop and focus on finding words to express gratitude makes us really think about what our clients mean to us. - Jessica LaGarde

"instead of giving candy, chocolate or even flowers to our clients as a "thank you" - we prefer to shop locally or from small online shops that we have built a relationship with. we love supporting small businesses {because we are one} & would much rather give a small token of our thanksgiving that can last forever versus a few moments." - Aimee Steckowski

As part of our #bealeader series, how will you be a leader and change the way you thank others? Do you already do this? What do you do and how do people react? Comment here:

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