’Tis the season of giving thanks. In business, one of the things we’re most thankful for is our clients. Without them, we simply wouldn’t be. So let’s use this time of year to show them how thankful we really are with a gift of appreciation.

By giving a gift to your clients, no matter how big or small, you’re showing them that they are important to you. In doing so, you’re strengthening your relationship, a vital component of a successful business.

A small investment in your clients now could reap major benefits throughout the year, especially if it’s done right. But with access to so many different gift ideas, how do you select what will work best for you and your clients? It’s going to take a little thought and creativity, but that’s what you’re best at, isn’t it?

Here are a few tips to guide you along your way:

Give something useful.

I’m not talking about the kind of gifts your grandparents always gave you, like packages of socks (unless you design socks). I’m talking about stepping away from the traditional logoed pen and putting thought into something that your clients can actually use. For example, a postage stamp with your logo on it will remind them of you every time they send a letter, and they’ll be thankful for the gift every time they’re not spending that postage money.

Where to start: Think about the things you use on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Consider how any products relate to your business and how your customer might be able to use it. If you have a very close relationship with a client, you could even be so bold as to ask what type of gift they might like and use that as a jumping off point.

Personalize it.

Find gifts that are personal to your client, and to your work and your brand. If you give them a calendar, write in some dates that are significant in your working relationship, or give a personalized journal and write a note to them on the first page. The more meaning the gift holds both for you and for them, the more significant and memorable that gift will be.

My favorite that I’ve come across so far is a notepad with images of the work a graphic designer completed that year for a client. This was personalized to the client, as they could use it to show off some of their products, but also a reminder of their working relationship.

Where to start: It’s easiest to get ideas flowing by thinking about one of your favorite clients or projects. How could you do something special for them? What makes your relationship special? Use this as a guide as you go through your client list.

Do something unexpected.

Whether it’s a gift or a card, make it unique. Let your holiday card stand out from the pack. Send a traditional card, but put something in there that might surprise them, like a coupon or gift card (perhaps for an undisclosed amount?). Include a note that sends them on a scavenger hunt, or a scratch off card with a potential to win something.

I once received a $1 scratch off lottery ticket in a thank you card with a handwritten note connecting how what I do is like the playing the lottery. It was unexpected, exciting and thoughtful all at the same time.

Where to start: Write down the first things that come to mind, then create charts or lists that spur from those original ideas. Your first idea has some solidity to it, but it’s probably not unexpected — where you go from that original idea is.

Deliver it with thought.

The delivery method itself can be the medium through which you send your thoughtful message. I like to give chocolates to some of my closest clients this time of year, but instead of mailing the box with a card, I hand deliver it to their place of business. Practically no one hand delivers gifts anymore, but this is a great opportunity for me to show my thanks in person. You could also include small gifts or trinkets within the packaging of their next purchase from you — plus it adds that surprise factor we talked about.

The packaging you use for your gift can have meaning as well. If you’re mailing a card, write a personal note on it or even on the back of the envelope. You could use custom wrapping paper to wrap a gift. If you’re a photographer, tie a photo print from that client to the outside of the gift.

Where to start: Taking into account the first three discussions, think about how you interact with your clients on a regular basis. If you have time to step out of your typical schedule and deliver in a unique way, consider those options. If not, think about how you can make your delivery special using the time and resources you already have or can easily acquire.

Most importantly, make it count.

Throughout the process, continually think back about why it is that you’re giving this gift — to show your appreciation. Whatever you give or however you give your gifts this year, be sure that you stick to your key message of giving thanks. That’s really what will make your gift count.

In her spare time, Catherine is a small business writer for Tiny Prints, where you can customize Christmas cards for your own customers.