The Etiquette Guide to Gifts for Freelancers and Freelance Clients
If you just started working together:
As you might guess, there are no hard-and-fast rules for clients giving gifts to hired freelancers. Probably the best Christmas gift you could give would be to hire the freelancer for another project! But a note of praise for all their hard work — in the form of a holiday card — would be a way to sweeten their holiday, too.
If you've contracted them for a long time:
Another way to think about freelancers — like consultants you’ve hired or virtual assistants — is they are providing a service to you. Much like you’d give a small gift to your hair stylist, you can choose a gift card or small gift to give a freelancer who went above and beyond for a project (and has worked with you through many pay cycles.)
If you're just sending out cards:
Should you do paper or email holiday cards? You’ve probably shared a million emails through the project, and digital holiday cards are faster. But if you’ve worked closely with someone, it’s better to opt for a paper greeting. (Mail out 2- 3 weeks before Christmas so it gets there on time.) If you’re a freelancer sending holiday cards to thank clients, make sure it’s a “professional” or neutral holiday card. You don’t want to mail your boss the family portrait of you and your kids in matching pajamas.
If you're a collaborator:
With freelance work, there’s often more people involved than the one-in-charge. Think about the team of people you’ve worked with. Send a thank you to fellow freelancers who worked with you on a big project, as well as someone who referred you for a job. Either a small gift or a holiday card with a note of thanks will make a good impression.
If you're the freelancer:
For freelancers, the etiquette of gifting is also unclear. Do you send a holiday card with a small gift card as a way of saying thanks, or does that look like you’re desperately trying to get more work from a client? Extravagant gifts are definitely out — but even a small gift is unnecessary. There’s a fine line with giving gifts to someone who’s hired you. Stick to a holiday card with a personal note.
If you're looking for another reason to give:
You can likely take a tax deduction (up to $25 per recipient) for business gifts that are a way of professional networking or thanking a freelance business team member. Even more incentive to give some holiday cheer!
If you're friends or family:
Think about practical gifts that will help your freelancer friend or relative in what they do. It’s tough to make the bacon when you’re self-employed! Beyond gadget gifts and accessories for their home office, find out how they backup their work — you could gift a subscription to a cloud service as a gift that gives peace of mind.