Whether you’re looking for the perfect client gift or just a way to show some appreciation for the creative in your life, finding a gift that’s meaningful and won’t end up in the trash or in a junk drawer is like finding a needle in a haystack.
No one needs another mug and as much as I love a gift cards, I always misplace them or forget to use them entirely. The best gifts I’ve ever received are things that seamlessly integrate into my everyday life.
Below are 12 products and services I use every single day to power my creative business that would make incredible gifts!
*Everything I’m recommending is a product or service I’m currently using or is sittin’ pretty in my office. This post does contain a few affiliate links which means I get a small kickback for the referral, but it doesn’t cost you a dime. It does help me continue to run this free content machine™ though, so maybe you gain some Karma points. Who knows? Now on with the show…
1) Gift a 1-hour business coaching session
The entrepreneurial road can be a lonely one at times. Without someone to bounce ideas off of, it can be easy to make decisions based on impulse and a need to “keep up” rather than strategic moves that are in alignment with your purpose. Every coach focuses on a different specialty and brings a unique perspective to their coaching practice. A little research might be necessary before gifting a session, but the clarity that comes with coaching has long-term business value.
2) Brand photography mini-session
Gone are the days when business owners could don a blazer and cheese a stiff smile for the camera in an effort to show up for their audience. Whether you’re the face of your brand or not, brand photography can be used on your website, social media posts, blog posts, presentations, courses, advertisements…the list goes on and on. A handful of great images can be used, zoomed in, and cropped a dozen different ways. Paired with compelling copy, brand photography is the best way to communicate what your brand is all about.
Successful entrepreneurs are always learning. There’s a business book genre for everyone, but the boom in online businesses has changed the paradigm for how you run a sustainable business without burnout or 90s-style selling tactics. (“Always Be Selling” is now “Always Be Giving”.) You can check out my Bookshop Bookshelf here for the complete roundup of favorites, but my go-to picks for DIY and experienced creative entrepreneurs alike are:
Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller
4) Art prints as office decor
Check your local shops for unique prints and art you can use to zshush up the wall behind you. As clever as Zoom background are, they’re kind of awkward and distracting. Simple is the name of the game, which is why I’m loving black and white line drawings like this or pretty much any print from the online shop, Freckled Fuschia.
5) Gift certificate to a business tool or service
Every online business owner has felt the pains of needing to add yet another software subscription to their list of monthly expenses, just to be able to create the content necessary to grow their business and serve their clients well. From graphic design to customer relations software, these tools are essential for creative business owners that are DIY-ing most of the marketing tasks for their business. If you’re in the position to help sponsor the creative entrepreneur in your life, ask them which tool is instrumental to their growth and offer to help pay the subscription fee.
My creative business essential tools are:
ConvertKit – Email marketing software
Dubsado – Business management software
GSuite – Google’s workspace for email, documents, calendar, spreadsheets — basically the bare minimum and everything you need to exist as a business.
Wave Apps – Accounting and business management software
Zoom – Video conferencing software
6) 2021 Weekly and Monthly Planner
Most planners are entirely too complicated. That’s why I prefer to use Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner by At-A-Glance. Each day has a column where I can jot down meeting times and notes, and another column is formatted as a checklist so I can write down my to-dos and stay on track. I love the spiral binding so it lays flat on my desk, and the colorful patterns and tabbed sections are simply cheerful.
7) 2021 Dry-Erase Wall Planner
I don’t care how many productivity tools you throw at me, nothing helps me plan out client projects, content schedules, and product launches like this giant Dry Erase Wall Calendar. It’s especially helpful when timelines change or launches get pushed back (#reality) to just reach over and update — no need to open a new tab, get to the sign-on page, realize your password software is disconnected, reconnect, sign in, locate the right workflow, update, save, and then totally forget the changes you made five minutes later. You get my point? Analog, FTW!
8) Neewer Ring Light
Even before the pandemic, I used a ring light to brighten up my office space during Zoom meetings. After chucking two cheap ring lights in the trash I finally wised up and upgraded to the Neewer Ring Light Kit. I no longer look like I work in a dark closet or dungeon which makes me feel a whole lot more professional — even if you can still hear my toddler’s voice in the background.
9) Brydge Vertical Laptop Dock
At any given time I’m flipping through my four different notebooks (yes, I have a problem) as I research and write for my clients. Desk space is a premium, which is why I covet the Brydge Vertical Laptop Dock. The clever design minimizes the amount of real estate needed to store and charge my laptop.
10) Le Pen
Everyone’s got their preferred writing device. These are mine. Le Pens are inky, available in my brand colors, and a dozen per pack means I can lose half of them to various purses and totes and still have plenty to spare. Also, who doesn’t love a pen with a very French attitude?
11) Camelbak Chute Waterbottle
Hear me out on this one. When I’m in a productivity groove, the last thing I’m going to do is leave my desk to refill my glass of water. And I’m someone who can’t stand room-temperature water, so it has to be icy cold in order for me to take a sip. I purchased this Camelback Chute Mag Waterbottle when I was pregnant with my second child and very busy and very thirsty. My ice never melted in this thing and it is my constant office companion to this day.
12) Costa Farms Clean Air Plants
Did you know you can mail-order plants? Carefully packed and shipped to your door, the Costa Farms Clean Air Trio is a great way to breathe some life (literally) into your workspace. These days, indoor plants are carefully curated to be easy to maintain and hard to kill, (i.e. if you forget to water them for a few weeks, they’ll be fine.) I might be speaking from experience.