Some financial advisors love to give client appreciation gifts for their birthdays, anniversaries an holidays, while others worry that gifts are a waste of money and energy.

Although client appreciation gifts require some planning and don't necessarily result in direct returns, many advisors agree that they can help build stronger relationships with clients.

Research from coaching firm The Oeschli Institute shows that 71% of top advisors give gifts to clients at least once a year.

When giving gifts to clients, here are some things to keep in mind.
First, set a max of $100, per client, per year. Remember to document each gift in a "non-cash compensation" log.

Next, don't give the same gift to everyone. In addition, avoid stereotypes, and don't assume that male clients enjoy golf and that female clients will love a spa service because it may be just the opposite.
There are a number of ways to find out what a client will value. Take a look at their Facebook pages, which may offer clues.

With new clients, advisors should remember to discuss hobbies during client meetings and take note of unique interests. A one-size-fits-all gift has minimal impact, but a gift that shows real thought can make a real difference.

Over the years, we have heard dozens of gift ideas, from sending flowers to widowed clients on Valentine's Day to giving crystal wine glasses as a thank you for a referral.
Here are five great gift ideas that clients are sure to love:

1. Event Tickets

Most affluent clients value "experience gifts" over things, and tickets to an event can be memorable and useful. If the clients are interested in the arts, consider tickets to a community theater production or concert. For sports fans, consider tickets to an upcoming baseball game, tennis match or golf tournament.

 2. Birthday or Anniversary Treats

It seems that everyone sends treats and gifts for the holidays, but birthdays and anniversaries are often forgotten. Rather than send name-brand treats that can be bought anywhere, consider something more unique and local. Do some research on local treats to make the gift more memorable. But with food or beverage gifts, make sure to be aware of any allergies that the client has. If unsure, it is best to avoid items with peanuts or other common food allergens.

 3. Gifts That Keep on Giving

Another great idea is a gift that can be used all year long. Anytime the client uses the gift, he or she will remember the advisor. For clients who enjoy cooking or baking, consider a nice kitchen tool or decorative oil and vinegar bottles. Or, consider a gift for the office such as stationery or a collection of limited-edition stamps.

4. Investing Books

An educational book on investing is never a bad idea for clients. It allows them to become aligned with an advisor's investment philosophy and better understand the fundamentals of investment decisions. When clients have questions about anything they read, they may be inspired to call their advisors and ask questions or take a look at new investing opportunities available to them. This may be a great gift for prospects or disengaged clients. Reading about investment tips may encourage them to re-address their strategies with the advisor.

 5. Personalized Gifts

Personalization is a great way to transform an impersonal gift such as a picture frame or glassware into something special. If clients enjoy traveling, consider a monogrammed passport holder. For oenophiles, consider monogrammed wine glasses or bottle opener. A monogrammed gift is a particularly great idea for advisors to give to clients with whom they aren’t close enough to know their hobbies and interests. Consider a monogrammed throw, serving tray or coffee mug.

 If gift giving is getting stale, advisors should enlist the help of creative staff members to change it up to surprise and delight clients and prospects with something special.

Craig Faulkner is chief executive of FMG Suite, offering a complete inbound marketing solution for financial professionals. Follow him @fmgsuite on Twitter.

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