Our last gift guide comes in collaboration with Deena Zimmerman, one of our Chicago-area REALTORS® and a commercial practitioner. Deena clued us in to not only some great gifts for her clients and colleagues, but to some great ways to personalize holiday gifts and best practices for giving during the season. She’s provided us with some non-tech gift ideas (and of course, some technology too!), and we’re thrilled to have her guest blog for us this week. These gifts are sure to go over great with clients in both commercial and residential settings.

It’s that time of year again when we are wishing our clients and colleagues happy holidays and showering those closest to us with thoughtful gifts and well wishes. I am blessed to have a wonderful referral network, especially awesome Residential Realtors across the country, who have referred me truly wonderful clients, many of whom have become like family to me.

I have a number of clients who are out of state, so I love to buy them “Love from Chicago” themed gifts. For example, this could include a Chicago favorite of mine,  Lou Malnati’s pizza (they have awesome dry ice frozen shipping options) and a tin of Garrett’s popcorn (Chicago mix of course!) along with coffee from various coffee roasting clients I represent in Chicago. This is a great way to show a very personalized “Chicago Touch” while also showcasing the various Tenants I represent locally in Chicago.
I also work with a lot of brokers/developers/landlords on a number of various projects every year, many of whom I have become very tight. I want to make sure I send them a personalized gift as well. I take the time to reach out to their co-workers or assistants to find out what they love. These gifts can vary from spa gift packages at the Peninsula to customized gift baskets with various types of alcohol. I am also a huge fan of sending an Open Table gift certificate so they can take a loved one out for dinner wherever they want-and they can download the certificate on their smart phone, so no need to print! I am currently putting a customized gift together now for one of my largest referral resources who refuses to let me give him a referral fee when he sends clients my way. So I am doing a basket with his favorite spirits/mixers and champagnes that he can keep at the office to share with co-workers and his clients as he does a ton of entertaining.
I also LOVE buying men I work with customized flowers from Flowers For Dreams. It’s fun to get flowers for guys and Flowers for Dreams donates a portion of all proceeds to various charities.
As I first referenced above, I represent a lot of local tenants helping them find space to lease or purchase and love to buy their products as gifts for other clients (some of my clients include those who are in acupuncture, restaurants, bakeries, wine distributors, spas, gyms, etc.) This type of personalization, along with charitable groups like Flowers for Dreams and Ruckus Teen Products, an AMAZING program for Teen Entrepreneurs at Concordia Day School not only makes me feel great supporting these amazing groups, but I also find it really helps me stand out.
For retail tenants I work with who geek out on tech as much as I do, I love to put together gift baskets with the various products I mentioned above and also include fun gadgets like a Nest, a portable Bose speaker (my favorite is the Bose Mini II that also works at the beach!), and a beacon that they can affix to their storefront to monitor daily foot and vehicular traffic to help identify key sales hours during the day.
Finally, I don’t send these gifts until after the holidays. I wait until mid to end of January and use it as more of a message to thank them for 2017 and to say how fired I am to work with them in 2018. I send holiday cards now, and then these gifts later. That really helps to stand out and remind them I am ready to rock out 2018 with them!

Deena Zimmerman is an award-winning broker who has worked in the real estate industry since 2004. Serving as a vice president in the SVN Chicago office, Deena’s focus is on investment sales and tenant representation, specializing in finding high quality sites throughout Chicagoland and surrounding areas for national operators, franchisees, and first-time entrepreneurs.