The holiday season is one of the few times in the year when every professional has a good excuse to connect with all contacts. A simple physical holiday card or gift is a great way to say, “hello,” and stand out in a world that has gone almost completely digital. However, simply purchasing generic holiday cards is a waste of a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your brand in the eyes of your customers, decision makers and business contacts.

Six tips for holiday personal branding

  1. Do donate money to a worthy charity in the name of your contacts. Gift your business contacts with the gift of giving by donating in their name, and sending them a card with information about how the gift will impact the lives of those served. While we all know many amazing charities, consider giving to one that is connected to your industry or in some way connects with your brand. If you are in the building industry, Habitat for Humanity may be a good choice. If your brand encompasses empowering youth, Big Brothers Big Sisters  may be a good option. Think carefully about the organization(s) to support and steer clear (unless related to your brand) of organizations that are highly political in nature or that could be seen as controversial.
  2. Do create customized holiday cards that incorporate your brand. One of my friends, branding speaker Karen McCullough, creates customized cards every year that are not only hilarious, but remind her contacts that she is a speaker with photoshopped images of her doing holiday-related things. Avoid creating a cheesy or overly promotional card.
  3. Do not send branded tchotchkes. Refer to the cheesy/ overly promotional comment above.
  4. Do send customized gifts to top contacts. While many organizations have rules regarding the value of gifts employees may receive, you can find a large selection of engraveable or otherwise customizable gifts under $25.
  5. Do send edible office gifts that underscore your brand. I enjoy sending cookies and treats that have social media icons or mobile phones drawn with icing.
  6. Do be thoughtful. Sending a wine, cheese and meat basket may not be a good idea if you have contacts with religious restrictions regarding those items. Also, bear in mind that some contacts may not have family. Be mindful of gifts and/or the wording that you use in cards.

Bonus: Do remember that this is the season of giving. No matter your budget, be sure to do something to put a smile on your contacts faces and spread a little cheer.

This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog.