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How to Connect With Clients & Others at Thanksgiving

Time to act! Your Canadian clients and customers will celebrate Thanksgiving Day (Jour de l’Action de grâce) on Monday, October 14. Your U.S. contacts will do the same on Thursday, November 28. Be wise and thoughtful, and take this opportunity to remember them before the holiday (c)rush. Consider how below.

Yes, this blog post is for you. We all need to express our thanks.

Things to do to show that you appreciate the people who make your work life better:

  • Send an email, text, card, or note.
  • Call.
  • Make a date for lunch.
  • Send a gift.
  • Say THANK YOU.

Say Thank You in Many Languages


Send an Email, Text, Card, or Note

However you normally communicate with your client or coworker, take it a notch higher if you can. If you normally email and can send a tangible card in time, do it. If you usually text or message online, send a fancier email.

Tell your client or associate that you appreciate them. (I’m using the singular they/them.) What do you appreciate? The friendship, camaraderie, referrals, contracts, conversations, suggestions, insights, orders, kindness, hard work, skills, creativity, patience, etc. Be specific.


You will notice the specific details in the message below. The details take the thank-you from generic to sincere. You can use a similar format, filling in the details from your situation.

Dear Renee,

Happy Thanksgiving season! As I focus on gratitude, I think of you. You have been a valuable mentor, friend, and collaborator.

If it weren’t for your guidance on my presentation at the fall symposium, I never would have experienced so much success and the consistently positive feedback. I even owe you for the style advice! (I love that red shirt you talked me into.)

I am grateful for the wise, generous person you are. Thank you!


In John’s message below, the specific details warm up the message.

Cynthia, thank you for being my favorite customer. Throughout the years, you have been a reliable, straightforward partner in providing training for your employees. It has been a delight to work with you to provide programs that create real learning.

One of the things I most appreciate about you is your tact. You have given me the most useful, clear, yet gentle feedback I have ever received. I have learned a lot from you and your quiet-power approach, and I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!


The example below is less detailed, but it gets across the message of gratitude.

Hey Claude,

When Thanksgiving comes around, I think of the people I appreciate. You are at the top of my list. I appreciate the opportunity to do business with you. That’s because of your positive attitude and willingness to try new ideas (even when they seem weird) to get the job done. I also appreciate that you listen.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with you, Claude. Happy Thanksgiving!


If you send a card that already includes a Thanksgiving message, you need only to include a few words, like these:

  • I am grateful for your business and your friendship.
  • Thank you for your collaborative spirit and creative ideas!
  • I appreciate all you have done to make our project succeed. Thank you.
  • You make my job worth doing–and doable. Thanks for everything!
  • Mr. Data, thank you for all the numbers you provide with a smile.
  • Your mentoring led directly to this new position. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
  • Clients like you make it a joy to be in this business. Thank you.
  • You have my sincere gratitude for all you do to make us successful.
  • Thank you so much for guiding me through this tough year. I am very grateful.
  • Your referrals have made a huge difference. Thank you for thinking of me.



These days so much business is done on a screen that making a call can be a special gesture. And receiving a call that just says thank you–not asking for anything–can be a treat. 

When I receive a call from an organization saying thank you for a contribution, I am always surprised and delighted when the whole call focuses on the thank-you–not on any ask.

Think about what you want to say in the call. If you’re not sure, look at the examples above. The important thing is to express your thanks. If the individual doesn’t answer the phone–and most people won’t–just leave a sincere message. 


Make a Date for Lunch

If you are geographically fortunate and can get together with your client, coworker, customer, employee, or others, make a date. Call, text, or email before Thanksgiving to get a thank-you lunch date on the calendar (your treat). Note that in the United States people often take the days before Thanksgiving off work, so calling or emailing the week before Thanksgiving is a good idea.

Lunch is a fitting thank-you gesture. Some companies do not allow employees to accept gifts from external associates, but a lunch that is not too expensive is acceptable. Lunch gives you an opportunity to talk and build a stronger relationship with your contact. You never know where a face-to-face conversation will take you.


Send a Gift 

A gift can be tricky because–as mentioned above–some organizations prohibit employees from accepting valuable gifts from people outside the organization. But there are gifts that fall below or near the gift-giving ceiling, which may be as low as $25. Here are just a few inexpensive gift ideas that can be special IF they fit the recipient:

  • Gourmet popcorn, nuts, or cheese
  • Chocolates or other special candy
  • New business book or bestseller
  • Book on something of interest to the client: Greek food, city gardening, story-telling, etc.
  • Fancy portable charger
  • Gift card
  • Plant or a bouquet of flowers (if there’s no possibility of a romantic interpretation)
  • Board game
  • Mind-bending puzzle
  • Writing journal
  • Movie tickets

What do you recommend as impressive (but not expensive) gifts for business associates?


Say Thank You 

As part of your Thanksgiving message–whether it is an email, a greeting card, a phone call, or a gift–say thank you. Say it sincerely. Say it clearly in simple words, and do not ask for anything in return.

If you need more help with examples or ideas for your thank-yous at Thanksgiving or anytime, consider my other blog posts on this topic:

Giving Thanks to Customers, Employees, and Others

How to Write Mighty Thank-Yous

How to Write the Interview Thank-You Note

Thank you for reading this blog. I am grateful for your interest and enthusiasm. It has kept me going since 2005!

If you have advice about business thank-yous, please share it in a comment.


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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

4 comments on “How to Connect With Clients & Others at Thanksgiving”

  • Hi Lynn,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, with your blog you have made me grow not only as a business writer, but also as a person! I like that you never miss a chance to remind us the importance of saying “thank you”, so here’s my THANK YOU for you! I really am grateful for everything I’ve learnt here.

    We don’t have a Thanksgiving day here where I live, but these tips could be useful on Christmas, Birthdays, Mother/Fathersday etc.

  • Thank you for your post, Lynn. As usual, I’ve gained knowledge to help me be more effective as a businessperson.

    You rock! Please keep posting your practical wisdom!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  • Thank you for your thoughtfulness, Allison! You have been commenting for a couple of years, and I appreciate your joining in the conversation. It’s always good to hear from you.


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