Festive & Green

Sustainable gift-giving hints for your design business.

This holiday season let your creativity shine demonstrating sustainable communication design strategy. There is nothing better than receiving calls from your clients saying how pleased they were to receive your gift. 

Seasonal client gifts are an opportunity for show your skills and reconnect with clients. When giving Christmas gifts, also a legal holiday, aim to deliver by the 11th of December. This will capture most clients before they dash away to family and friends. But don’t be limited to traditional holidays. Find other reasons to celebrate with your clients that align with your company values, perhaps for Movember, International Days—how about Valentine’s Day or Thanksgiving. Whatever holiday you select, its a great opportunity to get noticed!


Rarely is the financial investment as important as creativity in business gift giving. Small studios are just as able to impress a client as large ones. Aiming to make a gift memorable and one that leaves a last impression is the goal.

Your choice of gift of course depends on the holiday. Sustainability calls for thinking ahead, so when designing or choosing gifts, ask yourself first if the item is useful. Design products or look to purchase products that can be reused, are easily recycled or better yet, fully compostable. If the gift can have a second use, even better. 

Food gifts score high and can add a wow factor if packaged creatively. And reduce your gift’s environmental footprint by seeking local, organic products, and/or handmade goods. Make sure to add an ingredient list and expiry date!

There are a few products that you may choose to avoid due to allergies. The most common include sensitivity to: eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soy and wheat. Alcohol can be a tricky gift due to allergies and a letdown for those who do not drink alcohol.

When purchasing materials or products seek out locally produced, certified organic items that are responsibly packaged. There are often local shops that specialize in sustainable and/or local products. Talk to them about a bulk purchase to reduce packaging waste and reduce your costs.

In lieu of gifts, some companies choose to give to a cause instead. Let your clients know that you’ve reduced your corporate gift giving to help others. It’s a great way to reinforce your company’s values without creating unnecessary waste.


Besides being just generally generous and a super designer, gifts can also showcase your work—work you want your clients to know about. If you don’t normally do print work, highlight your creative strengths in print design. Well designed seasonal gifts can open doors and expand the client’s vision of your skills and capacity. Gifts can showcase work that goes well beyond what clients have already seen.


Consider designing your gift in tandem with all staff members to support a healthy internal culture. A good sustainable approach, the experience of working together on a project representing all employees can be good for a studio’s communication dynamics.

Demonstrate your company’s diverse skills particularly those not well known to your clients, then stick to the following rules:

  1. Design and give a gift that demonstrates your collective creativity.
  2. Give gifts that reflects your values and your brand.
  3. Don’t poison anyone or make anyone ill.

This year make an excuse to celebrate and have some fun, sustainably. And please send us your sustainable gift photos so we can see and share how you tackled being festive and green. 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from your National Sustainability Committee!

First published: Nov 2013