The decision has been made to leave a client gift; what do you give? How much should the gift cost? Should you leave a food item, something seasonal or something else? The answers to these questions will vary from chef to chef and probably from client to client.
For those times when you would like to spend little to nothing on the client gift, consider these suggestions. If your client will be eating your food for dinner on the evening of your cook date, consider setting the table. Look around the house for a unique centerpiece item. Perhaps a pretty bowl with fresh fruits or vegetables (maybe even from the client’s own crisper drawer) would make a beautiful centerpiece. Maybe there is another item that could be temporarily moved from another part of the house to utilize as a focal point on the table (a candle, silk arrangement, a beautiful teapot or other trinket would serve nicely). If you have leftover vegetables, maybe you could whip up a pot of vegetable soup, adding chicken or beef if available. Your client will be delighted to find a big bowl of homemade soup waiting in the refrigerator.
Never underestimate the value of a hand-written thank-you note. Purchase some pretty note paper and keep it with your traveling kitchen items. In this day of e-mail and instant messages, a sincere note expressing your appreciation for their business provides a nice touch and will definitely be something to be remembered.
If you’re willing to spend just a bit of money on the client gift, try adding an extra side dish for the first meal, making a special pot of soup or a creating quick dessert. One of my favorite treats to leave for my clients both with and without children are cake mix cookies. The recipe is simple and by varying cake mix flavors and add-ins the possibilities are nearly endless.
Cake Mix Cookies
1 box cake mix (any flavor)
½ cup canola oil
1-2 cups add-in (your choice of chocolate chips, mini m&m’s, nuts, etc)
Mix first 3 ingredients. Stir in add-in. Drop by teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Bake in pre-heated 350 oven for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
For another gift idea, consider selecting a bottle of wine to pair with the first night’s dinner. Or perhaps you could leave a large salad with a homemade dressing.
If you’re into seasonal items, you can often pick up nice items just after a holiday at a big discount. Simply stash and you’re ready when the holiday arrives next year.
For your clients with children, you may want to pick up small age-appropriate items like stickers, books or coloring books. Many children enjoy repetition, so learning their favorite cookie and leaving them often may be a welcome ‘surprise’.
As you can see, whether you’re planning to spend a little or a lot, there are many ways you can do a little something extra for your clients. Use these ideas as a starting point; I’ll bet you’ll come up with lots more ideas!