Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gift ideas for your CC friends, professors, and mentors

Christmas is a great time to tell people you care about what they mean to you. Showing your thanks is also the best way to strengthen your network. Because as I always say, real networking is more like friendship.

So take some time now to list a few people you want to thank this year, and consider these gift ideas to help make their day and let them know how much they mean to you. You will be amazed at how much your small gesture will mean to them. 

My favorite gift ideas 

(note: none of these are promotions and are just things I truly love and have personally used)

  • Use their name: Put someone's name on a pen or something they like. PersonalizationMall.com has great options. I love their wooden pen
  • Write it out: Buy a few cards that are blank inside, and just write a few words telling that person what you see in them and what they mean to you. This is probably one of the most impactful gifts you can give. 
  • Think back to past conversations: Think about what that person likes by remembering something he or she might have mentioned in a past conversation, and find a way to surprise him/her by showing that you were listening (e.g. I once got a friend whom I overheard planning a ski trip a beanie based on his favorite sports team.)
  • Notice their space: If you're getting a gift for a professor, visit their office and notice what kinds of things are in it. There may be clues to what they like. 
  • Use pictures: I'm a huge fan of Snapfish and the many photo projects you can do. I've gotten my dad a coffee mug with a picture of us dancing at my wedding, and once made my husband a photo book of our favorite trips over the years. 
  • Be mindful with food: Usually it would be "when in doubt, give food," but after working in an office, I realized this isn't always the best thing. Sometimes people feel overwhelmed with sweets during the holidays and try to give away such gifts. Only give out treats when they are personalized to that person and you know he/she loves a particular item.
  • Small gift cards: Even a gift card for a small amount (e.g. $5) for places like Starbucks or iTunes can be a great surprise and delight to someone as they're opening a holiday card. Just make sure it's something you know he/she would use (e.g. you could see if any of the cafe's on your campus have gift cards). 

From a silver sparkle ring to a stuffed horse, I can name every gift a student has ever given me. More importantly, I can name every student. Small unexpected gestures have a huge impact on people, and being the giver is just as delightful as being the receiver. 

Remember: The more you personalize the gift, the more it will mean to someone; once you try it, you will see it's worth the extra time and effort. 

So make your list, check it twice, and feel free to get creative, doing whatever you know will make each person feel valued and special. They will never forget you for it. 

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