It has begun. Groomers on internet forums are asking, "What do you do for your customers for Christmas?" It's a fair question.
Grooming is a service, and some service industries make a habit of giving their customers a little something at Christmas. The place where I buy feed for my livestock has a stack of calendars featuring farm animals on each page to hand out to their patrons. Last year my hair stylist gave me a purse-sized nail file. It's a nice thought, but do groomers need to gift their customers?
When I was a new groomer I gave each customer a clear glass ornament with a snippet of their dogs fur inside, and the pets name painted on the outside. I carefully tied a festive little ribbon so folks could hang the bobble on their tree. One customer said, "Um, Daryl? This is disgusting." It sort of took the wind out of my sails. One year I made dog bone wreathes for each of my customers. It took me hours of effort during an already busy time. Another time I baked dozens and dozens of dog cookies. It was exhausting. I have written pets names in fabric paint on festive bandannas, taken photos of dogs and placed them in small, magnetic frames. I like to bake, and some years I have sent each customer home with a loaf of home made bread.
Debi Hilley buys boxes of Christmas themed dog toys after the holiday and stores them until the next year. She decorates a tree in her lobby with the toys and lets each customer choose a gift for their pet. That's a really nice idea. She also gave me this suggestion, and I've done it several times. I gave each customer in November and December a coupon for discount on any groom in January or February. This kept my winter calendar fairly full, and people seemed pleased to save a few bucks. And, since I was handing them a gift, they often added a tip to their payment, or if they were already tippers, padded their normal a bit. Win, win!
What I have done the past few years is my favorite idea. I donate a decent sum to a local animal shelter. Then I give each customer a printed note card thanking them for their patronage, wishing them a lovely holiday, and telling them that a donation has been made in honor of their well-cared for pet to help animals less fortunate. This has been well received by my customers. It's thoughtful, clutter-free, and helps pets that need support.
All of this being said, I don't think that groomers are required to give gifts to their customers during the holiday. If you enjoy gifting your customers, some of the above ideas might be useful, but I don't think we should feel that a gifting your businesses patrons is mandatory.